“How many times do I have to tell you not to run through the house?” I asked.
“Sixty-seven,” came the reply as she scurried down the hall and into her room.
I felt relieved. Only sixty-seven more times and then she would obey. I made up my mind right then to sit down with her that very evening and tell her “Do not run through the house!” sixty-seven times. Wow! Tomorrow would be a good day. . . no more running in the house. The magic number would have been reached, and peace would reign in our home. No more running, no more screaming after the little speedster, no more calling back over her shoulder—just sixty-seven more times.
I hope you are amused; but seriously, throw out the “how many times. . .?” question. Train your children, don’t talk them to death. Many parents use words and then more words and then louder words and then harsher words until our words are either meaningless or abusive.
TELL THEM ONCE. Then be ready to back up your words with action. Your actions give meaning to your words. Ecclesiastes 8: 11 states, “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.” To state this positively: Quick actions by parents build a right response in a child. Failure to act multiplies wrong responses.
Here is how “telling them once” should look. You either call him to you, or you go to him. Get close. This gets his attention with his eyes, ears, and body focused on you. Keep your instruction short and clear. (Remember tip #2, Don’t say, “OK?”). Ask him to repeat what you told him, then check up on him to make sure it is done. This is training, not telling. Be ready with an appropriate action. If he obeyed, acknowledge it. “Great job.” Give a hug. Reward him. Do something positive. If he did not obey, point it out. Show your disapproval with your face. Then do something. Choose an appropriate consequence and follow through. Make sure he gets this message: Mom’s words matter.
Train yourself first! If you train yourself to do these things, you will be training your children to live with character.
Tips we’ve netted: Age-old wisdom says “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” This means that positive rewards are more effective than negative consequences. David Walsh gives three steps to being encouraging: 1) identify the positive behavior, 2) label it as good, and 3) express appreciation.
Quote: “Catch them doing right!”