Living Stones Academy

Educating by atmosphere, discipline, and life

Laying Down the Rails: obeying and being still

on June 25, 2013

I suppose since I’m an infrequent blogger I’m going to have to go back and explain this some time. For the moment I’ll just say to check out the books in the Laying Down the Rails series from Simply Charlotte Mason. To sum up, it expounds on Charlotte Mason’s own teachings about habits, and about as parents being deliberate in our training, rather than either extreme of permissive or reactive.

Ok, on to latest application of this.

Yesterday was one of those days that started off simple. 8 am appointment for the baby, her one year well-baby check-up. My toddler had had pinworms (confirmed), and I was concerned that my baby did too. The doctor said most likely, then said, “So they gave the whole family the medicine of course?” Well of course not. I had thought it strange but when my husband asked the doctor that saw our son–actually, nurse practitioner–she said no, only if they all show symptoms. Well, suffice it to say that was wrong. So while I waited to get my baby immunized, the nurse came back and told me that the clinic didn’t have any of the necessary meds and we’d have to go to Balboa Naval Hospital. As locations in San Diego go, it’s not far–15 minutes by freeway and side streets–but it’s still not an easy trip with 5 kids, nor was it in the plan. (And anyone that knows the hospital layout will understand my reluctance to do that trip, even alone, really not a fan of the place). In addition, I’d already made arrangements to pick up items for sale by local moms after my first appointment. Long story short, we (me and 5 children ages 1-8) left the house at 7:30 and didn’t return home until after 2pm. Then I left again for another appointment, once my husband returned home, at 3pm. I was home by 3:45.

What does this have to do with child training? How do YOU think 5 children behave in a doctor’s office or hospital pharmacy? 😛

At the clinic it wasn’t too bad, since I had 3 Kindles to pass around. But even then I was chasing someone or stopping someone or telling them to sit down, get away from the door, don’t touch that, etc. By the time we finished lunch and went to the pharmacy, one Kindle was nearly dead so I decided not to bring any of them into the pharmacy. Why, I don’t know. At any rate, in the hour we were at the pharmacy, I would tell them to sit down nicely in the chair and not get up. Uh huh, they got up, or slouched, or kicked, or attacked each other. Steven (my toddler) actually bit the baby’s finger in play at one point. Or they bumped into people with walkers and wheelchairs. Or I told them to sit on the floor against the wall legs folded so they didn’t trip people in the hallway (the pharmacy is under renovation–of course it is–and the pick up window is a small room down a long hall, too small for them all to stand in their with me). They would sit there, until I turned my back. Within less than 5 seconds (and I timed it) they would be kicking, picking each other’s noses (I’m not making this up), lying down legs sticking out . . . .it just went on. I was so frustrated and done when we left that I made the rash pronouncement that everyone would get in pajamas once we got home and spend the rest of the day confined to their beds, only allowed out for dinnertime.

Thankfully, I took the time driving home to cool down and pray. I realized that punishment wouldn’t train, but only cause ME more anxiety (imagine trying to keep 4 kids in beds at 2 in the afternoon all the way to bedtime . . . not my smartest idea), and it would never teach them what they should do. Because that’s what we’re learning through all of our reading and growing and praying. It’s not enough to teach them what NOT to do. We have to teach them what TO do. That’s the idea behind Doorpost’s Put On . . . chart, and it applies to all areas of habit training as well.

Instead I apologized to them for my rashness. I then explained there would be training when we got home and that it would last a long time. (They are familiar with what training is now) I told them the training would earn them tickets (another blog for another time . . . ), and that we would repeat the training all week.

The training goes like this:

Child A sits on the living room floor (when my husband was home with them during my 2nd appointment, he had them sit on the couch), with no one else in the room but a parent. Child A must sit as told, quietly, for a given amount of time, while Parent watches (for the toddler it was only 2-3 minutes, for the older kids 4-5). Once that time is completed, Child is given a few seconds of wiggle time, then told to sit again for same amount of time, but this time is expected to obey while Parent is out of the room or otherwise not watching. Child A is dismissed, and Child B comes in to do the same exercise.

Once all four (obviously baby was exempt from this) have done their individual time, they do it in pairs, because it’s a lot harder to sit still with someone near you who wants to play. So Child A and Child B are put through the same exercise together, then Child C and Child D.

Once that is completed, all four children have to sit together for the same exercise.

Will this be successful? I have no idea. But it seemed to make more of an impression than simply sending them to bed. We’ll repeat this exercise for the next 4 days, then test them out somewhere. Wish us luck!

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