Trivium Pursuit

Skype call from a mother in Norway

First, ElanefromNorway’s email to me:

I am writing you just to describe my problem with my son 2 years old. A…..was a very quiet child, but as he grew up, he started throwing a tantrum (now he is better with the tantrum), but the worst is that he doesn’t obey.We must repeat thousands of times the orders, and I know that we (my husband and I) are doing something wrong but I don’t know exactly what. Here are some examples:

1. He is playing at the park and he goes away and I ask him to keep close to me. He looks at me but doesn’t pay attention to my order. I say again, come here A…..!, two, three times, and finally I have to go get him because he never comes. I get angry, and finally I told him off for disobedience.
2. At home, more or less the same thing. For instance, “A….., come here to take a bath, or don’t take the knife, it is dangerous, don’t throw the toys.” I always have to repeat several times the things I want him to do, and finally to get up and to force him to do it, or to do it with him.

Can you help me please.

Transcript of our Skype conversation:

Laurie, how are you? I am ElanefromNorway. I received your email, thanks so much for answering it. Do you understand my question?

Yes, I understood it. You have a 2-year-old boy?

Yes.

Your only child?

Right.

Who watches the baby while you work?

Now my husband because I work part-time, but next Monday he will start the kindergarten, the 3rd year.

I need to ask a few questions, is that OK?

Nooooo problem.

Is it a discipline problem you are having?

Yes. I think that’s what it is.

Are you planning to homeschool him?

We cannot — we need to work both my husband and me. I just homeschool when we arrive in the evening at 5 o’clock.

Are you believers — Christians?

Yes, we are.

Do you follow the Bible?

We try.

What is your present method of disciplining the baby? Do you just use your voice?

When he doesn’t obey I normally repeat several times the same order and then I finally go to take his hand and force to do it. For instance, go to bath, take his hand to cross the road. But almost always he doesn’t reply at the first time.

Do you use the little switch?

Little switch???

Spank. Perhaps you don’t believe in that?

Yes, sometimes I think that is necessary, but by now it doesn’t work.

Ok, I just needed to find out how you believe.

I do it (spank), but then he continue the same.

The Bible, it seems to me, is pretty clear that we are to use the little switch in disciplining children when they are small. It looks like to me that you have trained the baby to ignore you. He knows he doesn’t need to respond the first time you speak because nothing happens the first or second time you speak.

That was not my intention.

The ideal situation is that the first time you speak, he listens, and obeys. You must train him to listen to your every word. One word and he obeys. Don’t allow yourself to speak more than once.

I understand.

Train yourself to speak only once and in the meantime you are training him to listen closely to you.

Aha.

You are the queen, Daddy is the king, and he is the little servant in training.

Ok.

You are a kind and benevolent queen and king, always ruling with kindness and gentleness but with firmness and goodness. But the little “servant” :) must learn to listen to your every word and obey.

I understand.

You are training him now to listen carefully to his earthly father and obey, so that when he is older he will be able to listen to his heavenly father and obey.

Ok.

You will explain that to the boy. He must listen carefully to you and Daddy and then obey promptly so that he will learn to listen then to his heavenly father. And you are going to help him learn to listen and obey.

Right, I understand.

You explain to him that when you speak the first time, he must obey. If he doesn’t obey the first time at your first word then you use the little switch. Never speak twice or raise your voice in impatience or anger. Here is where you must train yourself. Speak once, clearly.

I always raise my voice…. :(

Make sure you have his attention first.

OK.

I suggest speaking the child’s name first to get his attention. Like this — John. And he answers, yes. And then you say what you want to say.

So normally we have to try to stay at the same spot? Sometime I am in the bathroom and he is in the living room and I want him to come to me, but if I call him he doesn’t answer me.

Let’s say you are in the bathroom and he is in the living room. He is so young that you need to go to him and get his attention and then speak.

OK.

He is only 2.

Yes.

But only say it once, and expect him to obey. Let’s say you are all in the living room and you want him to pick up the toys. You wouldn’t say, A….., pick up all the toys. That would be too overwhelming to a 2-year-old. You would say, A…., I want you to pick up all the blocks now. Since he is only two, you will want to help him.

OK.

If he ignores you then you bring out the switch and use it, explaining that he didn’t listen to you and that he needs to listen to you when you speak. You are doing two things: 1) training yourself to speak little, but patiently and kindly; and 2) training him to listen to you carefully and to obey promptly.

OK.

But the little switch must be used consistently.

OK. What if we are in the street for instance — he doesn’t want to give me his hand to cross the road?

Don’t use the switch in public. Ever. If he doesn’t want to give his hand to you, then you take it and force obedience in public. Always gently, but firmly.

OK.

Then work on obedience when you are at home, but you wouldn’t discipline him when he gets home for his disobedience in public because that is too much time in between. He won’t understand because he’s too small.

I understand.

Here is something else. Did you know that little children pattern their behavior after whoever they are around the most? When your baby enters school he will be around lots of babies his own age and he will begin to pattern his behavior after them and he will start to bond to his peers. You didn’t ask me my opinion on this, but the Lord is telling me to give it anyway :)

Ja,jaaaa no problem. I thank you for it.

The bonds that you now have with him — the strong bond of love between you and him and between him and Daddy will start to weaken when he is in school. And strong bonds will develop between him and his friends. That happens no matter where a child goes to school — public or private.

I know it, and I would like to homeschool him, but for now, I have to work. I am trying just to work half time, at least.

The Lord will show you what to do.

But it is difficult.

Yes, working and taking care of a house at the same time must be very difficult.

I will pray for it.

You know what? I have to go now. My typing arm is getting numb.

OK, Laurie. Thanks soooooo much for your advice.

Call me again. OK?

Ja,jaaaaaaa.

4 Responses to “Skype call from a mother in Norway”

  1. Perla Sarmiento de Adams Says:

    I read in a books ( Christian Authors) that with children also help trained them to answer “Yes Mom” or “Yes Dad” when you ask them for somthing.

    Bye for now

  2. Karen W Says:

    I very much appreciate the instruction to train ourselves to speak once, gently and firmly. It is so easy to think only of training the child.

  3. Anna Says:

    What a wonderful mom to seek Christian advice when the child is two, instead of waiting until he is older. Also, I believe God led her to a good counselor! Thank you for sharing, Laurie.

  4. Catherine Says:

    I so appreciate this conversation. I had forgotten about not raising my voice…..I have noticed the distress over a grouchy Mommy clouds the regret over disobedience. Thank you Laurie, and Norway Mommy.

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