April 6, 2011

A Great Child Training Book

I have noticed in my short parenting career that children (well, at least my children) seem to go through cycles. My children will behave like mostly perfect angels for an entire week or two, and then suddenly, they become little terrors, and unfortunately, that cycle seems to last longer than the angelic one. To my dismay, I have also noticed that these cycles are due mostly to my lack of consistency. I am outright jealous of those parents who have the ability to be black and white in their judgments of children's behavior. I am not one of those. I always see the possible exception or even place blame on myself for the behavior of my children. In training my children, I've had to do a lot of training myself, and I still have a long way to go.

Our family has been experiencing one of the terror cycles over the last month that has been due to a busy schedule, lack of routine, and utimately lack of consistent training. While reading a magazine, I saw an advertisement for a book on child training focusing on Biblical character traits. I ordered it, and it arrived just before I left for Wisconsin. Despite all the busyness of my short trip, I finished the entire book before I got back! The book - ESP (Explain, Show, Practice) Character Training by Kim S. Doebler. I really enjoyed learning about her approach to chararacter training. The entire basis of the book is that when you observe your child doing something wrong, you then explain, show and practice the right behavior over and over. By doing this, you are able to train or teach your children more and discipline or punish less. She focused on 9 different character traits: obedience, honesty, respect, orderliness, contentment, patience, diligence, self-control and wisdom. She began each chapter with a definition of the trait and a Scripture verse for the family to memorize. Then comes the part I love. She devoted an entire chapter to specific things you can do, games you can play, phrases you can use to train your children in these character traits. I have read many books on character training, but this is by far, the most practical one. For example, under the character trait of obedience, she gave these practical ideas:

Play "Mommy says" like Simon Says.

Practice calling your children and having them answer immediately.

Play a listening game: Tell your child to pat his head while you are rubbing your belly. Tell him to touch his toes while you pat your head. Have him obey what he hears not what he sees.

Role play: anytime your child disobeys at home or in public or maybe you just know there is an unusual or new situation coming up, practice that situation over and over again at home until he knows what he is to do the next time.

She had many more ideas, but these were some of the bigger ones. Of course, in child training, the main ingredient is consistency. In order to have this consistency in her home, Kim would have a 30 to 45 minute Bible/training session each day with her children. She would teach or review the character trait and Bible verse they were working on. She would read a Bible story to go along with that trait, and then they would spend the rest of the time child training by playing some of the games such as those listed above or by role playing specific situations that needed work.

We have begun doing this at our house this week, and I must say, I'm already noticing a big difference. If nothing else, it has made all of us (including the kiddos) focus on a character trait. The kids love practicing it throughout the day as well. For example, our focus right now is obedience. During the day on Monday, I set the timer for 15 minutes. When it rang, I would randomly pick one of the kids and tell them to go do something. It may have been to go stand in the bathtub or to sit under the table or to stand on a chair or to go to the back porch. They loved this and saw it as a game when I saw it as an opportunity to train my children to obey quickly and immediately no matter how strange the command. (I had to set the timer because I kept forgetting to stop and practice with them. It worked great!)

To some, this may seem a bit overboard, and I will admit, that some parts of the book can seem extreme. However, if you are serious about child training and looking for a practical tool to use, I would highly recommend this book. You can find more information about Kim Doebler, her family and her book at her website

If you take the time to review her website or order her book, let me know what you think. If you have your own child training tips, I would love to hear those as well!

1 comment:

  1. Christy, I loved this!! I think I might order this book. Eli is going through some crazy times and is downright defiant so I hope this helps us.