What do I do when my 18 month old is over-exercising his self-will?

It is important to break his will and not his spirit before he is two.   He is becoming more autonomous, self governing, so whenever it is appropriate, give him choices . . . I think this would keep his spirit from being broken and will help him begin to feel that he has the ability to make wise choices.

I have always liked this quote to remind me that positive reinforcement is important:  “Be hearty in your approbation, and lavish in your praise.” Charles Schwab.   Catch him making the right choice with his behavior and heartily praise him for it.

Here are some words of advice from Susanna Wesley from Susanna, Mother of the Wesleys (Abingdon Classics):

“When turned a year old they were taught to fear the rod and to cry softly, by which means they escaped abundance of correction which they might otherwise had had, and that most odious noise of the crying of children was rarely heard in the house . . .”

“They were so constantly used to eat and drink what was given them that when, any of them was ill there was no difficulty in making them take  the most unpleasant medicine . . .”

“In order to form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer their will and bring them to an obedient temper.  To inform the understanding is a work of time, and must with children proceed by slow degrees, as they are able to bear it; but the subjecting the will is a thing which must be done at once, and the sooner the better, for by neglecting timely correction they will contract a stubbornness and obstinacy which are hardly ever after conquered, and never without using such severity as would be as painful to me as to the child.  In the esteem of the world they pass for kind and indulgent whom I call cruel parents who permit their children to get habits which they know must be afterwards broken.”

“And when the will of a child is totally subdued, and it is brought to revere and stand in awe of the parents then a great many childish follies and inadvertences may be passed by.  Some should be overlooked and taken no notice of, and others mildly reproved; but no willful transgression ought ever to be forgiven children without chastisement less or more, as the nature and circumstances of the case may require.  I insist on the conquering of the will of children betimes, because this is the only strong and rational foundation of a religious education, without which both precept and example will be ineffectual.  But when this is thoroughly done, then a child is capable of being governed by the reason and piety of its parents, till its own understanding comes to maturity, and the principles of religion have taken root in the mind.”

“I cannot yet dismiss the subject.  As self-will is the root of all sin and misery, so whatever cherished this in children ensures their after wretchedness and irreligion: whatever checks and mortifies it, promotes their future happiness and piety.  This is still more evident if we farther consider that religion is nothing else than doing the will of God and not our own; that the one grand impediment to our temporal and eternal happiness being this self-will, no indulgence of it can be trivial, no denial unprofitable.  Heaven or hell depends on this alone, so that the parent who studies to subdue it in his child works together with God in the renewing and saving a soul.  The parent who indulges it does the Devil’s work; makes religion impracticable , salvation unattainable, and does all that in him lies to damn his child body and soul forever.”

“Our children were taught as soon as they could speak the Lord’s prayer, which they were made to say at rising and bedtime constantly . . . They were soon taught to be still at family prayers, and to ask a blessing immediately after, which they used to do by signs, before they could kneel or speak..

“They were quickly made to understand they might have nothing they cried for and instructed to speak handsomely for what they wanted . . .”

In due season you will reap the rewards of your labor. Galatians 6:9  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.


Seven Basic Stages of Life

Hear these stages explained in a sermon by Dr. Billy Daws Fathering and Family

Seven Basic Stages of Life

1.  Foundation Stage  –  (birth through 6)

Focus on Discipline

A. Attentiveness
B. Obedience
C. Contentment
D. Neatness
E. Reverence
F. Forgiveness
G. Gratefulness
H. Faithfulness
I. Truthfulness
J. Security
K. Meekness
L. Cautiousness

Mother primarily works with child during this stage. Father’s responsibility is to keep mother happy.

2.  Training Stage (6-12)

Focus on Information

A. Patience
B. Dependability
C. Determination
D. Punctuality
E. Discernment
F. Loyalty
G. Compassion
H. Alertness
I. Thriftiness
J. Responsibility
K. Virtue
L. Tolerance
M. Fairness
N. Joyfulness

Father has the important role in this stage.  Begin Life Notebook

3.  Skill Stage (12-20)

Focus on Self-Control

A. Wisdom
B. Self-Control
C. Discretion
D. Diligence
E. Endurance
F. Deference
G. Sincerity
H. Generosity
I. Humility
J. Enthusiasm
K. Initiative
L. Love
M. Creativity
N. Decisiveness
O. Sensitivity

4.  Apprenticeship Stage  (age 20-30)

Focus on Serving

A. Thoroughness
B. Responsibility
C. Flexibility
D. Availability
E. Hospitality
F. Gentleness
G. Boldness
H. Persuasiveness

5.  Ministry Stage  (age 30-50)

Focus on Ministry

6.  Counsel Stage (age 50 to End of Life)

Focus on Guidance

7.  Heritage Stage (Left to Others after Death)

Focus on Written and Living Epistles


Remember your Fathers

Ephes. 6:2-3
“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise.  And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, “you will live a long life, full of blessing.”

No matter what our age, this commandment applies to us.  Appreciate your Dad this week; make him feel special.  If your Dad is no longer living on earth, remember him in love  as you tell your children about their grandfather.  My Dad has been in heaven for 18 years now, so I will ask God this Father’s Day to tell him how much I love him and appreciate the heritage he gave me and my children.

My Dad was such a friendly man; he never met a stranger and would greet anyone he passed on the street with a friendly ‘Hello, how are you?’ People don’t do that much anymore – we walk past one another and don’t even acknowledge anyone is there – but not my dad – I think of him every time this happens.

He was an entrepreneur, always trying something new. He liked to say that he was a ‘jack of all trades and a master of none’.  But that’s not true – he mastered being a dad above anything else!!!  I could talk to him about anything. He was always kind and patient.

He loved his family.  He would tell anyone that would listen about his children and grandchildren.  And he had such a tender heart for his pets.  He even taught our dog to stand up and pray 🙂

He became a Christian when I was 12 and immediately delved into the scriptures and became the men’s Bible teacher in our church for a while.  I have so many fond memories of him, but one is particularly special – we had just gotten some good news from my Mom’s doctor and as we left the hospital, walking arm in arm, we sang, “Let’s Just Praise the Lord”!!  One day we will do that again!

I wish every child could have the childhood I had.  Thank you God for my Daddy, Marion Eugene Head.

I’m thankful my children have had that kind of childhood.  Check out the excellent audio sermon series this month about Fathering and Family by the wonderful father of my children at http://www.dudleybaptist.org/


Help – my preschooler hit me!

This is definitely something you want to nip in the bud!

Here are a few things you might try:

Talk to your child about the fact that God gave us hands to love, help, pray, etc.

Sing “Be Careful What You Do Little Hands.”

Share 2 Timothy 2:24 – “Be gentle to all”.  Make up a song using the verse and naming who or what we should be gentle with:  be gentle to your friends, your pets, your books, etc.

Demonstrate a gentle touch.

Find pictures of children hugging or touching an animal gently.

Pray with your child, asking God to help him be gentle to all.

You might try putting him in his crib to isolate him.  Tell him he can come out when he learns to control his hands and be gentle.

Read Under Loving Command (Children Fun or Frenzie) for some really helpful discipline pointers.

Don’t give up! Be consistent and pray.  You will see the fruit of your labor – the fruit of gentleness which is one of the 9 fruit of the spirit!