Child Training Takes Practice

Jesus and the People - by Tabitha Jeub

Jesus and the People, by Tabitha Jeub

Educators call it “role playing,” soldiers call it “war games,” the Bible calls it “training.” We call it “practicing” because that’s exactly what it is.

“Training,” it seems, is a complicated word today. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6), a most popular parenting verse. Once understood, the idea of “training” makes an incredible amount of sense.

Here’s what training isn’t. It isn’t punishment. A trainer may use a stick to whip its horse into the behavior it desires, but children are different. Using punishment to attain desired behavior is rarely productive. It produces indecisive kids, not confident ones.

Training is more like practicing. More like a boxer, a soldier, or a professional athlete. Training is not punishment, just as practice is not discipline. They are much different, and when this difference is understood, parenting becomes pretty simple.

Example: Junior has the tendency to throw tantrums at the supermarket when Mom says no to candy requests. (We’ve all witnessed situations like this, haven’t we?) A parent who relies on punishment will wait till the supermarket encounter to “correct” the behavior. Some may whack the child in front of everyone. Some parents may give into the child’s demands, coupled with a, “fine, here you go, you brat!” The parent who pleads or threatens or reasons or lies with the child (“Mommy can’t afford it,” we hear often, as they run $100+ groceries through) — they’re doing it wrong too.

None of these more common scenarios hits at the core problem: the child’s behavior. None of these solutions takes aim at “training” the child.

We can’t tell you how many parents have expressed their dismay with situations like this. Kids “flip out” at certain times, and the parents consistently try to handle the child when they’re “flipping out.” The kids misbehave, punishment ensues, the kids misbehave, punishment ensues. We assume the kids will catch on, but they don’t. At dinnertime, in church, at school, wherever. We ask this simple question, “Have you ever practiced the behavior you are expecting?”

This “practicing” is well worth the time. Following the supermarket example, practice the situation at home. Set up a little concession stand at home and show Junior that the candy bar is off limits. “Here we are at the supermarket, and I’ll put one of these in the cart. If you ask for anything else, I will put it back.” Practice it a few times so that Junior knows exactly what to expect.

In our book Love in the House, we explain in detail how we “practice” for church. We attend a church where families sit together. Most churches don’t dare to allow such a fiasco, and we wonder if it’s because we have a generation of parents who don’t practice proper behavior at home. Before we leave, we’ll line up on the couch and practice sitting still and quiet. Just 10 minutes in the morning, and all the kids (even the two-year-olds) get it. Proper behavior is showcased. It’s modeled for the other children. And when we go, the children all expect proper behavior.

And we have a most pleasant time together.
And we think how nice it would be to love another child.

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Janetkiessling

    AMEN………………..and there is a whole lot of it going on here…….from both children & mommy & daddy………:D! Thank you Jesus!!!

  • Anonymous

    We tend to ascribe to the principles in books like “Hints on Child Training” and “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” – whereby there is some physical correction but the emphasis is on the teaching element of the teaching/training combo. But yes, it is different than punishment! Different heart attitude and different goal :)

    • Hank444

      You may feel it is different, but I wonder what children feel. As a child, I could see no difference, nor do I now. “Heart attitude” doesn’t really compute with a six-year old.

  • Erika Shupe

    Love this – it sounds so simple.  I admit, I haven’t tried it yet, though.  I have a hard time seeing how it works.  May seem silly, but I can’t envision how it’ll help us. It seems like we’re praising the good moments of behavior whenever I see them, and we explain good behavior all the time, we give the reasoning and sometimes scripture behind good behavior (not in a convincing-you-to-obey concept, but to bring wisdom after compliance)…and yet we still don’t have it.  *sigh*  Practicing seems like such a waste of more energy – however it’s the one thing we haven’t tried yet.  *chuckle*  We’ll have to try it I guess…

    • Chris Jeub

      You touch on a common hesitation: time. Eventually Wendy and I realized that NOT taking the time resulted in a frustrated waste of time. Let us know how your work pays off!

  • Erika Shupe

    We’d like to put a “button” to link to your blog on our blog, but I don’t see one?  Would it be okay with you if we linked to you, and if so have you thought about creating a button?  =)

    • Chris Jeub

      Go ahead and link away! As for a code for an image or button, good idea, but we don’t have that set up yet.

      • Erika Shupe

        Bob can make one pretty easily and then send it to you for your approval before we put it on our blog, if that would be okay?  =)  He’d use your header of your blog and your pictures, etc.  He’s done it before for other blogs and they loved it.  Yes?

        • Chris Jeub

          Go for it!

  • Elizabeth

    I love kids’ art. I like this drawing. Something I do with my kids’ art is scan it, then make cards. This work of art would make cute cards.