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Baby Boot Camp

“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Ecclesiastes 9:11
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As we were raising our children, it would surprise me that people would like our pleasant-to-be-around little ones, but would dismiss the means by which they became so pleasant-to-be-around.

To have peace there must be order. Mothers have a very special opportunity to create order out of chaos. By the time we had 3 children under the age of 5, I realized a great need: immediate obedience. I was inspired by the Patch the Pirate song, “The Army of the Lord,” to create a distinct time of training, which I lovingly called, Baby Boot Camp.
Having been recently saved, to “discipline the soul with godly self-control” was a delightful concept and made so much sense to me as I was dealing with not only the formation of the children’s character, but seeking to strengthen my own character as well.

Disciplined children don’t just happen any more than growing close to God just happens. Both take diligent daily attention and a healthy heaping of consistency, but the rewards are well worth the effort in time and eternity.

Listed below are the earliest lessons of Baby Boot Camp. Remember to enjoy this time of training with your little ones. Laugh with them as they learn the proper execution of the commands, smile at them when you know they understand, and then keep them accountable ever thereafter. Also, a key to success is: Short lessons go a long way.

For children around one year old

“No.”

A. “No touch.” This command seeks to alert them to potential danger. Also, trains them in the knowledge that just because they want it doesn’t mean they should have it, and just because it is in front of you doesn’t mean it is for you.

B. “No whining.” This is for the older infant. Babies have needs and those needs must be diligently tended to. It will take some time, but as the child gets closer to 12 months old the parents will be able to discern a cry or whine of necessity and one of mere discontent.

C. “No hitting.” Never allow the child to hit you. Instruct with firmness that this action is not allowed by holding the little hand firmly while saying, “No hit.” Retain clear and direct eye contact with the child so that they may understand that a definite line has been crossed.

First words

Training in articulation begins! The more you speak to a child and read to a child the greater will be their understanding and facility of the language. What a delightful position to have as one who instructs another in the beautiful art of speech!

Speak clearly, listen attentively. Clearly articulating their thoughts and training them to always speak the truth shows them how very important are the words they speak.

For children ages 1-3

On command:

A. Walk
B. Run
C. Stop
D. Sit
E. March
F. “Duck” (drop to floor)

How to train? Show them the exact action you are looking for when you give each command. Use the “Red light Green light” game to help in “immediate obedience” training. Cause them to understand the command through instruction and play, always being gentle yet firm. Once you are sure they understand, at random times and without warning, interrupt their play and command them in these actions seeking immediate obedience and follow through with an effective punishment for disobedience. Your word is law and must be obeyed, at any time and in any place.

This is good training for them and for you. For them because they must learn to hear your voice despite distraction and to quickly obey; for you because it will teach you not to tease and frustrate with “warnings” and trivial prattle. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Fold a washcloth and a small towel.

How to train? Start with a square cloth and show them precisely how to fold in half and then in half again. Praise them for a job well done and show them how nice it is to see a little stack of well-folded washcloths. Why does this matter? Because neatness counts and order is a characteristic of God.

Teaching the child to handle things gently and to put things in order, especially things that then go hidden in a drawer or on a shelf, shows them that taking care of the unseen is as important as tending to the seen. Both mother and child benefit from this lesson. As you fold together you may want to quote, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might,” in a sing-song manner.

Sit still for 3 minutes.

How to train: Find a small stool or chair that is the child’s size. Place it in the center of a well-lit and comfortable room. Find a timer and begin with a 30 second goal. Don’t make a big fuss about the task, just tell her that this is what she is going to do until the timer rings. Show her precisely what you expect: sit straight and still with hands folded. She is not to fidget, whine, or complain for 30 seconds. Have her do one round and then praise her and send her back to the play from which she was cheerfully interrupted.

Next time, perhaps later that day, do it again. Slowly increase the increments of time in the chair by 15-30 seconds over the course of several days until you reach 3 minutes of cheerful obedience sitting quietly on her chair.

As she approaches the 3-minute mark you could begin to stretch the time while rewarding her with a short piece of beautiful music, or a character-building children’s song to listen to while she obeys your command of “Sit still.”

Once her time is done ask her about the music: what she thought of the sounds she heard, what she thought about while listening to it, and what is lesson she thinks the music was trying to teach?

Hold eye contact when speaking.

How to train: Maintain eye contact with your child when you speak to them! When your child is trying to communicate directly to you, encourage eye contact by saying, “Look into mommy’s eyes” as often as necessary. You may also, ever so gently, touch their chin with your fingers and show them how to look up into your eyes as you smile and try to figure out what they are saying. Help your child in their youngest years to properly pronounce and enunciate their words. If something is worth saying, it is worth saying clearly.

Say please and thank you.

How to train: Always demonstrate politeness to them and to their daddy. When you speak with the clerk at the store or with a friend always speak respectfully. To say please and thank you when requesting something of your spouse is normal. Speaking kindly and respectfully to your child is also normal. Your child learns more from observation than by lecture. Train them in politeness by being polite.

In conclusion,

By nature, the demands of small children and the constant training they require is exhausting. Baby Boot Camp helps to make immediate obedience a habit in their life which makes both your life and their life more simple, more calm and definitely more enjoyable.
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Comments 2

  1. Excellent advice! I remember doing “baby boot camp” too with my kids. A great reminder!

  2. Thank you for the practical advice. I know when my one year-old is whining and not just crying. Do you have any advice on how to train him to not wine? Is ignoring the whining the best method?
    I’m hoping to start baby boot camp soon!

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