Must we repeat ourselves?
Sometimes it would be a mistake.
Other times it is our highest privilege.
Please enjoy this song, and come back for ideas on improving our skills as teachers and as learners.
Toilet training in less than a day
My wife, our young son and I were just starting to cross a city street in West Virginia. From nowhere, a car came racing around the corner, heading dangerously close to our path. The other two were looking elsewhere, and we were not holding hands, so all I could do was yell, “STOP!”
Only a couple weeks earlier, our young son and I had an impromptu training session on learning to obey instructions the first time they are given.
He and I were playing in our front yard. I had called him to come to me, and he did not.
He had ignored my voice.
I knew that if I simply repeated my instruction for him to come to me, I would actually be training him it is okay to ignore my voice. YIKES!
I also knew I could not let that stand, and that the time to correct his inattention was right then.
Since my voice had not reached his brain, I needed to get his attention through touch. I immediately ran the ten feet to his position, knelt down to his level, placed my hands on his shoulders, looked him straight in the eyes, and THEN calmly said, “I told you to come to me, and you did not. You did not do that right.”
At that moment I had his complete attention and could do a little training. The mood was matter-of-fact, as if we were learning how to play a new game.
“Let’s practice doing that right.”
I told him to stay right there, and I backed up a few feet. “Come here.” He came to me. I smiled and said, “You did that right. Stay right there.”
I backed up a few more feet. “Come here.” He came to me again. I smiled and said, “You did it right. Good job.”
I backed up a few more feet. “Come here.” For the third time, he came running to me. I gave him a big hug and said, “PERFECT! You did it just right!” He grinned broadly, hugged me back, and we returned to what we had been doing.
Time invested? Less than a minute.
I had been taught this approach by a book called “Toilet Training In Less Than A Day”, in a section on “How to Train Your Child to Obey”. Here’s a summary:
- When a toddler ignores your verbal instruction, YOU immediately move close enough to be able to physically guide him through your instructions. Most of the time, you will make gentle physical contact — for example, a hand on his shoulder — to get his attention.
- Look him straight in the eye and say something like, “I told you to ________ and you did not do it right. Let’s practice doing it right.”
- Give him a clear instruction, using simple and few words, and, if necessary, manually help him carry it out.
- Tell him, “You did that right. Let’s do it again.”
- Repeat so he does it right three times. Each time tell him “You did that right.”
- Reaffirm your love — hugs, words, whatever is appropriate.
Fast forward to our West Virginia city street crossing. The car came racing around the corner. I yelled “STOP!”
Our son stopped. He stopped first time I said to. He did just like he had been trained not many days before.
I still wince, knowing it could have gone very differently.
I remember the incident as an example of God’s GRACE, MERCY and LOVE to cover my mistake of exposing him to this danger. And I remember the incident as an example of the privilege we have been given to train our children how to do their duty to listen, remember and obey instructions they have been taught.
“How many times must I tell you!?!”
How many times does the parent need to tell the toddler what to do? Answer: during training, as many times as it takes for the toddler to demonstrate that he’s learned the skill. Will there be some repetition? Almost certainly, if the training is to be successful. The important thing is: do not quit training until they get it right. When is the best time to train? BEFORE THE NEED. Our habit should be to train at the earliest available opportunity — or sooner ?.
It is good for us to be aware of our own state of training. How many times do we expect God to tell us something before we take Him seriously? The more we see how much He loves us, and how able and willing He is to care for us, the more we will seek to know His good and acceptable and perfect will so we can carry it out with delight and thanksgiving. That is our duty, but much more, it is our great JOY to recognize, respect and obey God’s voice and authority in our lives, our families, and our culture. We receive His word with gladness when He speaks to us through scripture and through the voices of His ministers and through the spirit He gave us at the new birth.
♫♪ Tell It Again ♫♪
Of course our song is about reaching out to people who are hearing the good news of salvation for the first time. We gladly tell it again to those who have never heard.
But it is also our great joy and privilege to tell it again to our brothers and sisters (and our own children) who are still in training, especially when they need love and encouragement. How many times has someone done just that for us? I have many people to thank. Praise the Lord!
God bless you lots!
LYRICS: Tell It Again
Tell it again for someone needs it, tell it again.
Tell it again till someone heeds it, tell it again.
There’s no other story to bring men to glory,
So tell it and tell it, and tell it again.
Sing it again for someone needs it, sing it again.
Sing it again till someone heeds it, sing it again.
There’s no other story to bring men to glory,
So sing it and sing it, and sing it again.
How many times do you think a kid should be told something before being expected to act? Please jot a note in the “Leave a reply” spot below.
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