Quick List of Parenting Remedies We Used

1. When children are just generally getting into trouble every time you aren’t in the room with them (or even when you are): Tomato staking. IT’s not easy, but it really does work. That is when you keep the children in the same room with you all the time and nip problems in the bud, explaining how to handle them better, correcting asap as needed. If somebody has to leave the room, they leave alone, with a time limit for return. When I did this, I was not very accommodating about what they wanted to do- they had to follow me and find things to do wherever I needed to work. Incidentally, I did this with our middle two constantly, over 20 years ago, before somebody else developed the term for it. They hated it, but I have seen them use it with their nephews, nieces, and the Little Boys. It worked.

2. Fighting with their siblings: Appreciate your sibling- this is a disciplinary consequence my husband instituted that I thought was nuts, but it worked very well for ours. When they were fighting he would tell them they didn’t appreciate their sibling enough to have one, so they could no longer have a sibling and had to act like the other one did not exist, no exchanging of looks, no talking, no playing together. I don’t remember doing this more than a couple hours. Usually they were begging to have their sister back in a matter of minutes.

3. Tattling: I always ask, “Why are you telling me this?” because sometimes kids are just dorks with communication and I really need to know urgently, and sometimes what they are really meaning is ‘can I do that, too?” But sometimes they do it for attention, for the specific purpose of getting somebody else in trouble, etc. So my next question is, “When I call your sister in here, what will she tell me happened? And then I did call in the sibling to hear their version. This can be tedious, but it had two or three benefits- as I walked them through this it helped them learn something about seeing something from another point of view. It helped them learn to prioritize important details (tell me the baby hit her head BEFORE you describe to me the life history of the wall where she hit her head), and sometimes it bored them to tears and frustrated them so much they resolved never to tattle again, and that’s okay, too. Also, if I caught somebody lying for the purpose of getting somebody else in trouble that warranted more severe punishment than otherwise.

We did not begin with this approach. We used to only allow children to come tell us for safety reasons, but my children turned out to be absolutely wretched judges of when somebody was going to be hurt or something damaged.

4. Screaming, using mean words- I had them lick a soap bar or take a spoonful of vinegar along with a short reminder that this bitterness is what harsh words and unnecessary screaming are like. At least, my goal was a short reminder. I was often far too long winded, and this is a big mistake.

5. Sharing- I did not require sharing- if somebody owns a toy, it’s theirs to do what they want with. I did not allow hoarding, either, though, and this is where tomato staking comes in.

If it’s a group toy, I might have used a timer, but in retrospect, I think I would have fewer group toys.

6. In the Bible, putting off bad traits and sin is always accompanied by replacing them with good things. I would fill their time with productive things to do as much as possible.

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  1. Lynn
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Thank you. A good read.

    Sound common sense. Of course that is oft lacking, these days.

  2. Posted March 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Wow, why didn’t I know all this before all our children were raised. My sister says “Parenting is the only job where once you know how to do it, the job is over.” Thanks for sharing. I’ll pass this along to our children for their future reference.

  3. Heather
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    “tell me the baby hit her head BEFORE you describe to me the life history of the wall where she hit her head”
    This is funny to me, because my kids do that. I’ve had kids launch into a long story about what they were doing outside, which eventually ends with, “And then she fell and got hurt and she needs your help!”.

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