Q&A: Training Toddlers Who Like to Argue, Trampolines, Nap times, and Affirming Children

q + a Nov 21, 2022


Tips for having your toddler sit quietly throughout the church service (19 months)? 

We feel like we finally just got here with our youngest, and it is amazing to sit through a full service with all four kiddos without having to go out once! It is so worth the time it took to get here, and worshiping together is one of the most precious parts of our week! Elisha holds our youngest once they are past the nursing stage and into toddlerhood. (They seem to sense he is not as pliable as Mommy. :) This made a big difference for us, and it has become a special time for the youngest to have quality time with Elisha. 

We practice 3-4 times a week during our family reading before bed. Elisha holds Lawrence, and the three big kids snuggle me while we take turns reading. It took a few evenings, but now our youngest LOVES reading and sitting on Daddy's lap and rubbing his whiskers.

In Service, while we sing together the baby just cuddles Daddy, then when the message starts, he gets his little bag of cheerios with raisins and snacks on them one at a time through the service. When his snack is done, he has a board book or boogie board, and that gets him through the rest! 

For us, the key has been making sitting still a ritual in our home. When everyone knows the expectations, it's much easier to be successful in church and anywhere else that sitting still is important. 

With having a trampoline, do the pros far outweigh the cons? 

I don't know of any cons, haha.

But you're asking the girl that grew up with two (and at one point three) trampolines my entire life. In fact, at one point my parent's put a trampoline in our living room.

The kiddos play for hours on them, they learn great balance, coordination, and how to control their bodies in the air. I find it makes children incredibly capable and they seem less likely to get hurt growing up because they have learned to use their bodies well. 

*one reason we don't use the nets. I like them to become spatially aware of edges. AND they loving jumping off things (the play house, stairs, fence, etc.) onto the trampoline. 

I guess a con could be falls or head bonks. But those happen every day in a house of four kiddos. If it happens on the trampoline, I don't hear them complain about it.

How do you affirm your children without making them self-absorbed?

We love affirming them for things they have control over rather than things they don't. ("Wonderful! You are such a hard worker!" Instead of "you're so smart." Or "I love when you smile so sweet!" Instead of, "You're so beautiful.) 

Giving them ways to serve and take the focus off of themselves is helpful, and developing capabilities that make them feel good at their core whether they are praised or not. 

Honestly though, Elisha and I always just lean on the side of affirmation. I don't try to hold myself back from praising our children for who they are and who they are becoming. 

I trust the character we are cultivating, and the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts toward humility and a love of others.

Are your older children still tired by 7pm even when they nap/have quiet time? If mine even naps for 30 minutes he is up until midnight!

Yes! Our 5 year old rarely sleeps during nap time now, and usually listens to story tapes or plays with Lego for 1.5 hours. But on the weekends he naps, and still goes right down at 7pm (Okay, maybe after 30 minutes of brother-to-brother wrestling).

I think a lot of this has to do with intentionally making them tired with LIVING! Outside play and creativity for hours each day (sledding, building forts, building fires, snow ball fights, trampoline, friends, pulling little siblings around the yard, wrestling . . . lots of wrestling). And working brains until they long to just lay there and dream, haha. Regular school, but lots of poetry and recitations, learning the fiddle, learning hymns, logic, knitting, reading lots of books with new ideas. 

No screens. None. Zip. Nada.

I cannot speak for everyone's children, and I'm sure some just need less sleep, but the little ones in this house play and work so hard, they sleep hard too.

How to train/discipline when toddlers like to argue with everything you say? 

Something we like to remind ourselves of is that toddler arguing is nothing like middle-school arguing. And middle-school arguing is nothing like arguing with a teenager. 

Establishing respect and loving boundaries will never be easier than it is right now.

We are far from perfect parents, but when we lay aside our to-do lists and expect first time obedience with a happy heart every time, in 2-3 days, you only have to maintain the line you drew in the sand. 

For us, making eye contact, meaning what we say, and following through every single time leads to happily obedient kids who understand they say, "Yes, Mommy," obey, and then can come back and ask, "Why?" If they would like an explanation. 

This creates a home where we LOVE hanging out with our children! It doesn't take much consistency and intentionality to turn a negative cycle of arguing and fatigue, into one of delight.

If you are looking to create more systems that simplify your home, check out Katie's Free Masterclass to learn her top three tips for creating a peacefully productive home!

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