How To Teach Your Children Self Control

Emily is finishing up our BFBN week with more great tips for Self Control!

We live in a "give me what I want and give it to me NOW" sort of culture. We expect instant results. Instant gratification. We don't want to wait for anything and feel entitled to everything our hearts desire. 

I don't know about you, but one of my goals as a parent is to raise children who are the polar opposite of this current cultural trend. I want my children to be patient. To work hard for what they want in life. To respect others and themselves. 

Self-control is a crucial skill. It is not something we are born with the ability to do. We have to work at it and it takes a conscious effort, even as an adult. Self-control is actually something I'm personally striving to do better with in my own life. Having the self-control to say "no" to that snack I'm craving. The self-control to put down the phone and stop scrolling. The self-control to set aside the time each day to study God's Word. So many of our personal goals relate back to the ability to have self-control in a given situation. Why not train our children from an early age to have this important personal skill? 

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{How We Do} Temper Tantrums: The Happy Heart Rug

One of my favorite things about Babywise is that this system was created with a lifetime in mind. It's principles are those that carry over to each new life stage. It's not just about getting a baby to sleep through the night. There are "-wise" books all the way through "Teen Wise".

Today, the Babywise Friendly Blog Network is addressing topics from the "-Wise" series OTHER THAN sleep and scheduling topics. The topic I chose to address is everyone's favorite part of parenting toddlers: temper tantrums.



Woooooooo Buddy, you can believe the these passionate Wiley scouts can throw some fits. These babies of ours are independent, passionate, and opinionated and it just so happens that their opinions don't always line up with Mommy and Daddy's ideas.

The book "Toddler Wise" specifically addresses Temper Tantrums in the "Toddler Topic Pool" chapter. It states that "how [a child] controls and expresses his emotions is far more important than the fact he merely controls or expresses himself...... A temper tantrum is a coping mechanism occurring because an individual has not learned how to correctly manage disappointment." This is so important to us because we believe that part of raising adults is teaching our kids that they are responsible for their own emotions and they have a choice and control over how they handle them.

One of the suggestions the author makes for how to handle tantrums is isolation and this is typically how we handle it with the big emotions in our home. With our kids, we have seen tantrums start to really appear around the 15-18 month mark. When they are that little up through probably age 3, we address this by using what we call the "happy heart rug". This is a $3 rug that I purchased at IKEA (unfortunately they don't sell this rug anymore, but here's one that I think would do the job! affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2uGzMHg ).

We use the term "happy heart" a lot in our house. Because we do want to teach our kids that they can CHOOSE to have a happy heart. Specifically in regards to obedience. We teach them to obey "Right away, all the way, with a happy heart". Most tantrums happen in this obedience cycle. You ask your child to do something that they don't want to do so they throw a fit.

So what it looks like for us is this: I ask toddler to do something. They don't want to so they throw a massive fit. I will pick up the child and take them to the rug. (after a while, I can just tell them to go to the rug). I require they stay on the rug until they calm down. In the beginning this requires training of standing right there and ensuring they stay on it.  If they get off, I move them back on it. Once they have calmed down I say this: "Mommy wants you to honor her when you respond to her by saying "Yes ma'am" with a happy heart. Can you practice and say "yes ma'am'?" After they say "yes ma'am" I let them down. At 15 months they don't understand my words, and that's ok. Because I am still having them practice the right response with me. In time they will understand more of the meaning behind the words.

Once our kids are older, probably around 3, when the concept is pretty instilled in them (because our older kids still need help controlling their emotions sometimes!) we start sending them to their rooms and asking them to stay in there until they are ready to talk about it calmly with a happy heart.

Other suggestions the Toddlerwise book suggests for how to handle tantrums:

- Look for patterns (i.e. time of day, tired, hungry?) and try to prevent them

- Try not to talk a child out of tantrum because attention just feeds the tantrum. (This is why isolation works so well because it doesn't give into the attention seeking nature of the tantrum)./

-Physically hold the child with your arms around them until they relax and calm down. (Some of my friends refer to this as a time-in)

- Do not add a question at the end of your instructions. Stat your instructions and say "Let's go get in the car. I'd like to hear a 'Yes ma'am'".  Don't say "Let's go get in the car, ok?" It's not an option for them to say no, so do speak to them and give them the opportunity to weigh in with their opinion in these situations.

- Teach delayed gratification. This is so so hard in our day and times. But "immediate gratification training only heightens a child's anxiety when the pattern is not maintained".


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Self Control is a Base Virtue

Love hearing what Cole has to say about teaching self control as she continues our "-Wise" Series. I know you're going to love it! Be sure and check back tomorrow as Emily closes us out!


If there is one character trait that I think is most worth focusing on with little children (at least of the ages mine are), I believe it self-control. Self-control is the ability to manage and restrict the expression of one's emotions and desires, and it is most definitely NOT an attribute we are born possessing. It must be taught and practiced over and over, day in and day out.

But teaching self-control to our children is of the utmost importance because it is what On Becoming Preschoolwisecalls a base virtue. That is, it is the foundation upon which most other virtues are built. Patience, for example, cannot exist without a honed capacity for self-control because human nature is to desire instant gratification.  One cannot show unrelenting goodness, invariable morality, or consistently respectful speech without possessing dominion over their emotions and impulses. Even when looking at things like factors of learning, good students require the self-control to sit still and listen. The wisest decisions often necessitate the self-control to pause, delay judgement, and avoid rash actions.

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How To Give Instruction To Your Toddler

Katrina is addressing the topic of giving instruction to Toddlers. This post is such a helpful reminder for me, especially with the stage we are at with Archer right now. Enjoy below!



It may be of surprise to many, but the Babywise theory by Gary Ezzo, is actually so much more than schedules and sleep recommendations. Not only that, the Babywise series has recommendations that extend into the teenage years! I haven't personally read the the older books, but I've read Babywise, Babywise II, PreToddlerwise, Toddlerwise, Preschoolwise, and Childwise. I am always amazed to see all that is packed into these books. From discipline to potty training, mealtime recommendations to family dynamics- the books really cover so much! 

I always find it interesting to see how well our parenting style really fits in with many aspects of these books. We'll come up with something to incorporate into our parenting, and then I'll re-read one of these books for more ideas, only to find that many of our favorite ideas are also recommendations in these books. I then read the section again, and find even more ways to expand on the idea that we've been incorporating already. Just goes to show that Babywise is a great fit for my family!

One of our favorite techniques with our daughter, is something we use when asking her to do something or giving instructions. 

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5 Ways To Teach Children Kindness

Continuing on in our week in the "-Wise" series, Caitlyn is addressing teaching children Kindness and I love it so much! This article has so many great ideas and I think you will find it really helpful! Read below and enjoy!

Why We Teach Children Kindness

The book On Becoming Childwise has 15 principles, and I am focusing today on Principle #4: Instill morality into a child and his behavior will fall into place.  

Let's dig right in!

Chapter Four of On Becoming Childwise says "We know you want to instill honesty, empathy, compassion, kindness, gentleness, respect, honor, and self-control in your children.  This is not a wish list from never-never land.  It is a reasonable goal for your children.  But they are not born with these virtues.  They're cultivated.  It is the duty of the parents to put character into their children and not sit back and hope good character emerges naturally.  It won't."

Well then.  That's a lot of pressure, right?  It makes absolute sense.  We have to teach our children how to hold a spoon and wipe their bottoms (we have only successfully mastered one of these in our household), so OF COURSE, we need to teach them how to be kind.  It is a learned behavior.  So how do we teach it?


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Intentional Parenting: How Our Beliefs and Goals Shape Our Parenting Decisions

Continuing on in for BFBN Week, and our topics of anything except sleep and schedule related, Kimberly is talking about intentional parenting and parenting Goals! Enjoy the post below.


What are your parenting goals?

By that I don't mean Make it to dinner time  or Find the missing sippy cup. Think long term, way beyond when your children are tiny and still under your direct care.  What do you want for them?  I think most parents want their kids to be good people.  They want them to be nice, successful, happy.  Can we get more specific than that?  Do you want to raise someone who is trying to change the world?  Someone who seeks out others to include instead of exclude?  Maybe someone who is smart with money and lives within their means?  These are things to think about.

What are your parenting beliefs?

No, I'm not talking about no dessert before you finish your carrots.  Do you think kids should be seen but not heard?  Should we be teaching our kids to get in touch with their feelings or do we worry there are too many 'special snowflakes' around for that?  Are you dead set against spanking?  How do you feel about cry it out?

You might be thinking, Wait, aren't my goals and beliefs the same?  They do have a lot in common.  It makes sense that your goals are aligned with your beliefs and vice versa.  But that doesn't always mean they are the same thing.  You might believe that children should defer to adults and not speak up in some situations, but have the goal of raising a child who stands up for themselves.  When you think about it that way it might seem obvious that this goal and belief are going to be hard to work on simultaneously.  Well, yes.  It might not be impossible to get the two achieved, as speaking up has different levels of appropriateness in different situations.  But overall it can create conflicting messages for our children.


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How To Solve The "Wise In Their Own Eyes" Problem

Continuing the week with Babywise Friendly Blog Network,  Natasha is specifically addressing the topic of "Wise in their own eyes".  This is such an interesting principle that is addressed in preschoolwise. It requires awareness and wisdom on the part of the parents to see the  maturity and decision making ability in their children. Read Natasha's post below:


In chapter 4 of On Becoming Preschool Wise, Ezzo and Bucknam warn "against creating the false impression in the mind of a child that she is able to do anything, say anything, and go anywhere without parents guidance or approval."  Such a child "is a child who has been granted too many freedoms of self-governance too early."  When children are given too many choices or given too much freedom to make decisions, it can lead to a problem referred to as wise in their own eyes.  "Children who are wise in their own eyes will tend to go places they should not go and say things they should not say."

The three most common ways children become wise in their own eyes during the preschool years are: (1) parents grant too many decision-making freedoms; (2) parents grant too many physical freedoms; and (3) parents grant too many verbal freedoms.

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How To Correct Your PreTeen

This week, my friends in the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are addressing topics in the "-Wise" series that are not sleep or scheduling related. I love this idea because there is so much great stuff in the books other than just sleep and schedule-relating topics.

Valerie is kicking things off addressing a topic in "Pre-teen wise" about "How To Correct Your Pre-teen".  Read her article below and check back throughout the week to see everyone's posts!



As soon as your child enters the age for a preteen, the way you correct or discipline that child starts to shift a bit. You both can feel things changing, but neither of you are quite sure how that should be, much less how it will be. A child in the middle years age-range certainly knows a lot more about how to behave than a two year old. Just because your preteen knows more than she did when she was younger does not mean she knows everything. She will still do things she shouldn't and will still need to be corrected. A middle-years child very much still needs to be taught, encouraged, and disciplined to learn how to grow into a wise, moral, and responsible person.

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July's Book Stack



Kristin Schell

Kathleen Grissom

Maria Goff

James Patterson

Chipper Jones


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