Consequences when teaching habits?

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  • Tammy

    We bought the full set of Laying Down the Rails last spring at our state’s annual homeschool conference, but I have yet to begin any of them! I want to, but am hesitant. We have planned to start with the habit of obedience. My question is — what do we do when they refuse to participate/put effort in…. basically, when they disobey and don’t care. Do we use consequences? What did Charlotte Mason recommend? What do you do in your home?

    Jennifer DeJong

    Very curious about this also…


    I have one child who is unusually strong-willed. Combined with growing up near indulgent grandparents who taught him that if he throws a big enough tantrum he will get whatever he wanted, and would give him things I said no to when my back was turned  (more than once I walked in to the room to hear”Don’t let mom know!”) he was quite maddening to try to train for years! Still is on some days, but he has improved significantly. I tried spankings (I was told if he just got a hard enough spanking it would set him straight. There is no spanking hard enough for that kid!), time out (Yeah right), taking things away, everything I could think of. Nothing was really working. I had to do a lot of crying and praying.

    Then I thought about why he might be so disobedient… and I realized that when he was obedient there wasn’t much fun. When he disobeyed, yeah, he got a spanking but he also got to do what he wanted. I had to loosen up a bit and say yes to some things more, within reason. Even if I am saying no to something, I don’t phrase it as “No you can’t blah blah…” For example I want my kids eating healthy foods. Instead of saying “No, we’re not going to get ice cream”, I say “Let’s make some ice cream!” We make it with bananas and a little bit of soy milk then freeze. Kids are happy, mom is happy. Instead of telling my kids to clean up their mess in the living room and leaving it at “Get this mess picked up NOW!”, I say “Let’s make some room so when Daddy gets home we can play a game!” We have a new baby so sometimes it’s phrased as “Uh oh! There’s a bunch of stuff Baby can choke on. Let’s clean up the floor so she can roll around.”

    He loves to cook, so I will have him help with dinner or lunch several times a week. He’s learning obedience (by following directions), helping his family, and having fun at the same time.

    By doing these things, he has become much more obedient in other areas. He doesn’t want to clean and would easily end up on the Hoarders show if I didn’t have him clean his room, but he will do it without a fuss, unlike before. He used to absolutely refuse to do anything I asked him to. Now he does most of what I ask him to do and is a great helper at the store instead of whining about getting treats the entire time. He is now starting to see that good things happen when he obeys: everyone is happier and healthier, and we get to do fun things. 🙂

    Renee Gould

    I am with ‘totheskydear’.  I really don’t think there is a ‘one size fits all’ to discipline.  I also bought the Laying Down the Rails books and did implement it.  I think we definitely saw results when we stuck to consistency with working on one habit together.  Believe it or not, six weeks is a long time to be consistent as a parent.  It is also difficult to come up with discipline that works. Personally, I got frustrated with how to make things stick and coming up with creative discipline that really worked.  I too, tried spanking, the corner, picking up poop, running…and something was just ‘missing’.  If I had to put my finger on it, I would say the Holy Spirit prodded me that I wasn’t doing the right thing.  I was trying to ‘quickly’ resolve things instead of fixing a core issues.  What is this core issue, you ask.:-)

    Well, hands down, if I could give any other family advice about what to read regarding disciplining children (and I felt these books were right in align with Charlotte Mason’s writings and teachings), It would be:

    Scott Turansky’s: Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in you and your kids.

    Clay Clarkson’s: Heartfelt Discipline

    I received these recommendations from women on this site; just reading other posts about different child issues.  They have been a lifesaver for me and truly a blessing.  I think all of us moms get overwhelmed with ‘how’ to accomplish the balance btw good habits and how truly difficult it can be to attain them in a family consistently.

    Scott Turansky’s book falls in line with ‘totheskydear’ was saying.  It starts with the parents and it is all about ‘Honoring’ one another with our words, actions and overall discipline.  It was a huge eye opener for me and I am still trying to implement it within our family unit along with creating good habits.  They really do go hand in hand.  I have found that negative reinforcement does not go the distance with my kids.  My thoughts are, it probably doesn’t with most.  This is where Heartfelt Discipline comes in…that the Holy Spirit will help us customize a discipline for our kids.  That quick fixes are not really what God is all about.  It takes relationship and true interaction to create the success we want as moms.

    Try doing this the list of things we moms do in a day; seems daunting.  These books really, really helped me.  It is hard work, but the rewards are visible and you really see them work.  Then all the sudden they seem easy and/or simple.  Both are full of scripture to support the philosophy…

    I think opening the book of habits and just trying implement without core skills in discipline (that are supported by scripture) is really difficult.

    That is my experience and two cents!:-)



    sheila aguilo

    I have the same question!

    Renee, I ordered that book you mentioned: Scott Turansky’s: Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in you and your kids.

    How did you combined both? I did read Laying Down the rails, and will start the curriculum, but I have many questions. Did you did work with  both books in the same time? What do you recommend? (the Turansky’s book is on the way yet).

    Thanks in advance!

    Renee Gould


    I wish I was that organized.  ha!:-) I did not purchase these together as a lesson plan.  It was something that unfolded through struggle and trying to find a better way to discipline and help habits stick.

    With that said, I personally would read Scott Turansky’s book prior to habit training.  It is more foundational to habits and discipline.

    Maybe read it this summer (I don’t know your school schedule; so apologize if this won’t work) and start practicing some of the concepts.  Then start habit training this fall?  Obviously, after reading this book you will see some areas you can work on habit training just by the philosophy  behind the book.  It won’t be like you have to ‘put on hold’ habit training; but maybe the formalness/lesson part of it.

    If you want to implement together, I would read both and formulate a study plan.  (That seems difficult to me; but I am sure it could be done.:-)

    Hope this helps.   I guess I feel like Laying Down the Rails helps you put together lessons for habits.  The two books I reference are more ‘background’ work that needs to be done prior to implementing habits.  That is how I see it..  They are more foundational in helping habits be successful and have staying power.



    Renee Gould

    PS…I am so glad you purchased the book! Please let me know your thoughts and if it helped!:-)

    Jodi Hansen


    Which Clay Clarkson book do you recommend … or doesn’t it matter?

    1) Heartfelt Discipline: The Gentle Art of Training and Guiding Your Child published in 2003; or

    2) Heartfelt Discipline: Following God’s Path of Life to the Heart of Your Child published in 2014 (this one says it is the 3rd edition)

    It seems the books are similar, but they are not identical.  I’m wondering if there is a preference?

    Thank you for your time!

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