Toddler Training: Part 1

(This is Part 1 of a 2 Part Series. Part 2 can be found HERE)

How To Train Your Dragon is one of my kid’s favorite movies. I cannot tell you how many times we’ve watched it. My son, Kai, has collected every single dragon figure there is. Often times I find the rooms of my house laid out into a battle scene with dragons in the windows, under the pillows, on my desk, in the sheets of my bed, on the tables, and on the floor.

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Have you seen this movie?! It’s actually a super fun one to watch!

In the opening scene of the movie the dragons have taken over and are attacking the village, killing anyone in their way in order to steal food. The people in the village are afraid, in a panic, and have no choice but to fight back. They are running, yelling, and screaming.

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Everyone is angry.
No one is listening and everyone is losing their minds as the village is plundered.

Oh my goodness, doesn’t this sound like motherhood at times?

Sometimes it feels as though my home has been taken over by little terrorists. It feels like our family is under attack, we fear we have lost not only our sanity, but our lives and goodness gracious where did all of the food go???

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When my kids are continually disobedient, in need of constant attention, do not listen, do not follow through with directions, it is easy to get frustrated, to react, to draw lines, take up my battle stance and fight back. At times I can feel like I’ve lost my mind and I run, yell, get angry, and count down the minutes until dad relief walks in from work…

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In the movie the main character, Hiccup, is different than everyone else in his village. Rather than run from the dragons or stay to kill the dragons, he shows kindness and grace to the most evil, deathly dragon of all. He first builds a strong friendship and then…

…he trains him.

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What comes of it is a beautiful relationship where instead of fighting WITH one another they now fight FOR one another.

So it is with parenting.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

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Maybe you’re reading this and are a little bit confused. And I’m fairly certain that for some this thought of training your child might sound foreign or odd at first…so before you let your thoughts go wild, let me first go through a list of things that training is not.

 Training is NOT:

  • Training is not treating your child like a pet.
  • Training is not beating your child into submission.
  • Training is not discipline.
  • Training is not education.
  • Training is not positive affirmation using treats and candy or manipulation.
  • Training is not a method to produce godly children.

Here are a few things that training IS:

  • Training is thoroughly explaining what is expected.
  • Training is a way to teach, through a great deal of practice and repetition, a child to respond to what is expected.
  • Training is firm, yet also lighthearted and meant to be FUN! (See “Milk And Honey” for some thoughts on keeping it sweet)
  • Training is taking away the guess work and is necessary so that your child knows exactly what is required of him/her.
  • Training comes LONG BEFORE discipline.dragon play

**Put simply: Training is the seed. Water it, and keep watering it, and the outcome is a garden of obedient, helpful, responsive children.

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Being a mom isn’t easy.

But I have found (and I confess, most of it the hard way) that much of the stress I feel as a mom is able to be remedied and alleviated when I focus first on loving and building a relationship with my kids, and then make a conscious intentional effort to TRAIN my children.

I once heard someone say that it is foolish for parents to think that we have been given children that do not need to be parented. That has stuck with me for years now.

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Children need our direction, they need to be taught the big picture of how life works, but they also need to be shown the small things like how the “putting-away-of-toys” or ‘how-to-walk-from-the-front-door-to-the-car” or ‘how-to-sit-in-your-seat” works too. From the big things to the tiny things, they need to be taught. I often catch myself being surprised when my children don’t know how to do something or are confused by what I’m talking about. Yet it is me that needs to be reminded that I have to keep teaching at the forefront of my mind. Every single day there is a constant never ending need for instruction.

Training is very different than discipline, though.

After training has been completed, then discipline is an option. I often tell my kids during discipline, “As your mom, I’ve done my job of telling you exactly what I require of you. I have taught you, we have practiced, and you know full well what you were expected to do. The error came when you failed to do what you knew was right.”

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My children know that I will never discipline them for a mistake or an accident. But they also know that if I’ve taken the time to train for a particular action, then that means there is no longer the option of saying they “didn’t know.”

Are you curious about the “how”? That’s coming soon! If this resonates with you, then be looking for the next post. For the sake of brevity I’ve decided to divide this into two posts. In the next one I’ll share some ideas and steps to take in how to train your  ‘lil dragon!  🙂

Click HERE for Part 2…

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3 Replies to “Toddler Training: Part 1”

  1. This is VERY helpful. What a great way to approach their behavior AND mine…. with patient training before discipline. Looking forward to part 2!

    1. Thank you so much Micki. There should be a “share” button at the top of the article and I’m pretty sure you click on which venue you want to share it on and it’ll do it all for you. Let me know if that doesn’t work for some reason. -M

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