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Child Training and Habit Forming By: Sarah

Craig hugging Sarah.

Craig hugging Sarah.

Child training is an ongoing process from the birth to adulthood of our children. The real beginning of it all starts with the simple, yet profoundly important concept of loving our children. Children are not a burden to be laboriously propelled through childhood and then dumped off, to our relief, at adulthood to fend for themselves. Children are a blessing from the Lord, and if we accept them as such, they become the joy of our lives. The love which we lavish upon them in turn creates in their own hearts a love for those they see us loving; their siblings. Even here, they will imitate the actions of those whom they find most dear, their mother and father. So our love for them begins the all important process of training our children in “the way in which they should walk”.

Sarah

Sarah

Child training is really the process of forming habits in our children’s lives. If we want our children to have certain habits we must start from the first to train them in those habits. It will be easier both for you and for the child if you uphold the same standards from birth. What is cute in that little toddler or precious in that tiny, lovable baby may not be so charming in a year or two. It is essential to start evaluating behavior and choosing what is acceptable and what is not from the start and hold to those decisions. It is much easier to do this at the start than to try to set new standards later on.

Not only do we begin forming appropriate character and behavior patterns in our little children but also we begin to teach them as soon as possible to care for their own personal needs. From an early age they learn to take responsibility for themselves and not to expect of others what they themselves can provide. Child training is a great responsibility, but also a great opportunity to raise up a generation of God-fearing young people.

Loving Babies by Mom

Joanna welcomes Ammi.

Joanna welcomes Ammi.

Children love children. It is simply natural for them to delight in God’s blessing of a family with another child. Our age-segregated society does much to divide families and turn the hearts of siblings away from one another. It is unnatural for siblings to consider one another a burden to be endured. By bringing families home, we are reuniting brothers as God always intended. Siblings should be one another’s best friends, closest confidants and most ardent admirers. Train them young to love, protect and enjoy one another. The fruit will bless you.

Zechariah enjoys Joanna.

Zechariah enjoys Joanna.

Loving Babies by Sarah

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord…How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Psalms 127:3-5

There are a number of clear memories I have from when I was really young, some of the most exciting (and memorable) of which are those of meeting my new brothers and sisters for the very first time. What excitement there was as Dad brought us all in to see the new addition to the family. The love Dad and Mom had for us and for the new baby inspired love in our own hearts for one another. They made sure to incorporated each one of us, no matter how young, into the care of our new baby; helping to change diapers, bathe, dress, entertain, hold and put them to sleep. Of

Jeremiah loves his Hannah.

Jeremiah loves his Hannah.

course, sometimes we complained and found the baby burdensome, but the pleasant moments and adorable smiles are what stay with us, far out-weighing all else. Looking down on a peacefully sleeping baby, delighting in the first attempts at talking, enjoying their smiley, carefree nature, helping little feet learn to walk, receiving the joyous greeting of an adoring little one, singing the baby to sleep as you pace up and down in the increasing twilight, all are memories that bring a smile even now and a longing to have a baby in the home again. Watching the interaction between the baby and others in the family, young and old, is a joy to behold. Something about a baby brings out both the tenderness and playfulness even of the most staid and serious. Their innocence and utter confidence touch the heart. As they grow; exploring and discovering new things, new ideas; their lively chatter and naïve conclusions lighten the seriousness of life! Every member of the family, no matter how young or old, finds the time to stop and enjoy the baby, helping them where it’s needed, watching them learn on their own, loving and being loved.

Zechariah entertains Ammi.

Zechariah entertains Ammi.

Basic Principles for Forming Character by Mom

As a Christian, I believe there are no amoral areas of life. Therefore good character is a spiritual quality. Since spiritual truth is spiritually discerned, the Word of God is our most potent tool of character development. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7 If you sow the good seed in your children’s lives, you will reap its fruit. So how do we sow this good seed in our children’s lives?

Mom loves on Zechariah.

Mom loves on Zechariah.

First, we read to them from God’s Word. They will learn the holiness of God, the demands of His law, the consequences of sin and the provision for justification and salvation in His Son. All these truths can reach and affect their young hearts on the spiritual level. This is the foundation for all growth (source of all character) in the Spirit.

At the same time, second, we, as their parents, show them character by our lives. Much of what they become they will learn by default as they live with us. Both good character and poor character are learned at my knee, for what the parents are, the children will become. Consistency of parental example is therefore the gold standard of character training. To the extent that we as parents are what we want our children to become, all goes fairly well. We teach largely by default. The real issue then arises when we want our children to be something we are not.

Dad & Caleb play TicTacToe.

Dad & Caleb play TicTacToe.

Yet another aspect of example we must address here is the character of friends and siblings. Due to the foolish nature of the hearts of children, limited contact with other children is best during these formative years, and what contact is had should be guided and well hedged in with activities. Children should not be left on their own for long periods of time. Well scheduled hours eliminate much trouble.

Third, a consistent schedule is also a good hedge to character development. No matter how young your family, you should have at least a basic schedule of daily absolutes to give structure to your lives and around which

Hannah helps Caleb hold a chick.

Hannah helps Caleb hold a chick.

you can flex to meet needs. For us that basic structure of absolutes includes 1) early rising, 2) personal Bible time 3) family Bible time 4) breakfast and 5) chores. These absolutes do not vary much ever. They are the foundation of our lives.

Finally, fourth, although the seed is sown, the example is good and the schedule is consistent, we still need to train them in expected behavior and attitudes. There is no substitute for training. Discipline has a place in their lives, and it is used here for direct disobedience, but what we are really discussing here is training. They must be shown what you want them to do and how you want them to respond.

Caleb

Caleb

From The Ground Up

by Hannah

Training starts when we are very young. Since all of life is built on the foundation that is laid in these formative years we believe in laying those foundation stones from as early an age as possible, being careful to begin cultivating the habits that we want the children to have as they grow older. Obedience and cheerfulness are some of the very first lessons with sitting still and being quiet during family Bible time taking priority while the children are still tiny. Sharing toys with one another and speaking softly are two more important lessons that we begin working on right away. Both make the children more pleasant to be around, help the house run more smoothly and cultivate good habits.

Joanna feeds Ammi.

Joanna feeds Ammi.

We have observed over the years that we program individuals to act in certain ways simply by how we treat them. Treat a child, of any age, like a baby, and he will act like a baby, treat him like a little child and he will act like a little child, treat him like a big kid and he will act like a big kid, give him a few years and treat him like a responsible adult and he will act like a responsible adult (all of this within reasonable measure, a four year old cannot act like an adult, however, a twelve year old treated like an adult can mature at phenomenal rates and start acting like an adult in very short order). For all of us the day arrived when our babyhood drew to an end and we entered the realm of small children.

Julia brushes her own teeth.

Julia brushes her own teeth.

It happens around age 1 1/2 when the present baby discovers that he is about to turn into a big brother. The new baby has, in our case, quite gracefully bumped the last baby up into the next stage of his growth where he begins receiving tasks of his own and a measure of responsibility, small though it is. As a little child he will now begin cultivating the different eye-hand coordination skills, taking over more and more of the things that we used to do for him.

Responsibility is added slowly as the child is able to handle it. Dressing himself and putting his own cloths and toys away are some of the very first tasks which we teach him. At various times we have done bedroom inspections before breakfast to prompt the little ones to keep their things picked up and put away. We teach him to put his shoes on the rack and bring his coat to us after a walk so that we can hang it up for him. Personal hygiene, like washing his hands, brushing his teeth, combing his own hair and bringing his dirty laundry down to be washed come

Caleb puts away his clothes.

Caleb puts away his clothes.

with time. Making his own bed is often difficult for little people but as he helps a bigger sibling make his bed each morning he will slowly become more skilled at the process and in time will be able to take it over for himself. While he is still so little he doesn’t often do a very good job at any of these, but the whole purpose it to begin building good habits and cultivating skills while he is still young and to ingrain into his actions cleanliness and the desire to do his own work and help Mommy with her work, too. At first you will find that it is easier to do the work yourself rather than teaching your little one to do it, but as with so many other things, taking the hard road now results in a much easier road later when the children have learned to do their own work and are taking over more and more of your responsibilities, freeing you to move on to other things.

In Conclusion

Hannah helps Sarah, Joanna, & Julia make bread.

Hannah helps Sarah, Joanna, & Julia make bread.

What we allow and encourage in our young children forms character and lifestyle habits that will characterize their entire lives. By setting life's standards for them while they are little, according to our own beliefs, we prepare them to meet the coming opportunities and trials of life with greater ease and self control. The basic requirements and disciplines we enforce now build a groundwork from which will rise an orderly and motivated life as time progresses. We have the opportunity to start our children out on a good footing. "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." Heb.12:11


Copyright © 2006 The Stover Family - all rights reserved.


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