“Mama picked me up, and we swirled and swirled ‘coz she was so happy I remembered to make my bed without being told.” “Jonathan’s Journal”

So you have the morning routine chart in place. You have timed your preschooler to see that he really can complete the tasks that you have assigned him in the time that you have allotted him. You have walked him through the steps over and over—and you know that he can do this.* However, little Johnny does not cooperate—and you are pretty sure that he does not deserve to be “swirled and swirled”!

First of all, it has been important to us in our child training that we understand (or at least try to understand!) the difference between foolishness (willfulness) and childishness (underdeveloped character). The differences between these two types of behaviors in children are crucial in disciplining properly—including knowing what to do when little Johnny simply will not complete his morning routine chart.

In our child training, Ray and I have tried to determine whether a behavior was rebellion against us (as in outright disobedience or disrespect) or childishness (as in forgetfulness, procrastination, sloppiness, etc.):

1. Foolishness

   a. Rebellion

   b. Disobedience

   c. Disrespect

2. Childishness

   a. Undeveloped or underdeveloped character

   b. Forgetfulness, procrastination, irresponsibility, etc.

   c. May turn into “foolishness” if left unattended

We do this because disobedience requires biblical discipline whereas childishness requires the second aspect of child training we have used: reality discipline (or consequences).

                            Which Behavior Is This?

Discerning between disobedience and childishness can be so difficult! Even after twenty-seven years of parenting, Ray and I still continuously ask each other which behavior a child is displaying. Difficult or not, we must do it. The Bible says that we are not to exasperate our children. Two sure ways to exasperate them are to punish incorrectly, as in anger, etc., and to punish something as disobedience, when we should be training through consequences. All parents are faced with this. A child dawdles when we call him to come get ready for bed, and we wonder whether this is just childishness or if it is real disobedience. When our son leaves the dog out of the kennel for the third night in a row, and the pooch potties on the new carpet, we ask ourselves if our little guy is disobeying or forgetting.

In a nutshell (and I will spend at least one post on this in a day or two), if a child is disobedient, disrespectful, or rebellious, we have a heart issue—and a serious discipline problem that needs handled in a serious manner—and quickly. If a child is forgetful, slow, unreliable, etc. (especially a younger child), it is usually childishness—and we can “train” that undeveloped or underdeveloped childishness out of a child through consequences and reality discipline.

Stay with us as we examine this more closely—and decide what we should do with little Johnny who repeatedly does not complete his morning routine.

*More info on developing the morning routine for younger children can be found in an earlier post at http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/01/day-nineteen-develop-morning-routines.html

**Info on developing the morning routine for older children can be found in an earlier post as well as at http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/01/day-twenty-establish-and-follow-up-on.html

Note: The information in this week’s blog posts about childishness versus willfulness was taken in part from Chapter 9: “I Want an Oompa Loompa Now, Daddy!” from our book, The Well-Trained Heart.


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