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Principles and Practices of Biblical Parenting

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Principles and Practices of Biblical Parenting

– Raising Godly Children –

Paul and Linda Bucknell

Sesssion #5

Child Training & Routines

Wall falling

Once there was a world famous king. He had everything he could ever have asked for. He had power; he even had peace. On top of all that he was a profound philosopher known for his writings and wise sayings. People took tours from around the world just to see how great his kingdom was. There was just one problem. Although he excelled in just about everything, there was one area he didn't master. The downfall of his kingdom came within the next generation just because he didn't exercise self-control in that one area.

Self-control is all important. If a person lacks self-control in only one area of his life it can bring his marriage or family down. Whether it is gambling, immorality, anger or stealing, any of these areas that are out of control will control him. Destruction follows. King Solomon's willingness to disobey God in the one area of sensuality caused the kingdom to be torn in two. Two verses in scripture remind us of that of self-control is essential.

A city that is broken into and without walls
is a man who has no control over his spirit. (Proverbs 25:28)

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. (Proverbs 16:32)

The heart of the issue is "Who is leading whom?" Either we will train our children to be self-controlled or we will train them to be demanding and self-centered. We can ask a different set of questions to help us see this more clearly. Is the child setting the schedule and demanding things go his own way? Or is the parent, (appointed by God) leading the child, setting the daily routine? Do you as a parent require that your child conform to your desires? Or do you allow him to rule your time with his desires?

In order to effectively develop self-control in our children, we need to set up good routines and develop a flexible schedule. We must take the time and initiative to train them to comply with the routine. The repetition of routines goes a long way toward building up confidence, experience and acceptance of what needs to be done in life. The very patterns that they are familiar with will become the same patterns that they will naturally adopt for their own, as they get older.

In the last chapter we looked at several important general principles for how to train our children. In this chapter we will look specific training steps, illustrated by example. We will also develop routines and schedules and show how they all support and reinforce one another.

A. Effective Training

Self-control or self-discipline is developed by lots of repetitive training. The most important area to tackle first is the child's response to his parent's word or instruction. When the parent speaks, the child should obey. If we start when our babies are but tiny little infants, they will know no other alternative. This resolves much of the parents and child's frustration. In any case, the training takes time and repetition.

Many parents fight against the idea that a child must always obey his parents. Or somehow they do not understand it is an obedience issue. Perhaps they think that they love the child by tolerating his bad behavior. They think that somehow this pressure will hurt the child. In fact, the opposite is true. Let's assume that almost all parents will instruct their child in some things. Most parents are unsuccessful in training because they are inconsistent; they don't always carry through to compel their child to obey each instruction or command that they give.

They tell them to do something, "Come here" but allow the child to run the other way sometimes, even thinking it is 'cute'. Disobedience is never cute. Every time the parents are inconsistent, they send a mixed message to their child. Inconsistency in making them obey communicates that obedience is not that important. So the child disobeys more. This in turn causes more disobedience, more chastisement and a longer time to train the child. The caring parent can avoid this by being absolutely consistent. Be true to your word. Mean what you say and say what you men. It might help the parent to view this 'half-baked' child training as disobedience training.

The earlier a parent starts training the child, the better. We should think about training as something that is always going on. From our child's earliest days, we will always be training them one way or another. If we establish our routines early on, then we can have a relatively peaceful and quiet home, a home where parents have wonderful relationships with their child.

Wrong training early in life greatly influences behavioral problems later on. We will trace pattern of early baby cries through to the toddler stage.

From Crying to Complaining

All would agree that a baby should be loved and cared for. The wise mother learns early on that some cries are for legitimate needs while others are used to control and manipulate. At only a few weeks old, the baby will already assert his or her will by crying. Making loud noises with tears is the only ability the baby really has control of. The tendency to control the environment through crying, in order to please their own desires, is the first expression of a child's sinful nature.

My wife says that a baby has several kinds of cries: a hungry cry, a distressed (hurting) cry, a dirty diaper cry, a stunned cry and then the "I want my own way" cry.

If the parent is not careful to discern these cries, the child is able to learn to manipulate his or her parents. The baby, for example, likes the warmth of his mother. If he cries, then he is rewarded by being picked up and held close to his warm, soft Mom - maybe he will even get an extra snack!

Of course, it is not wrong to be snuggled up next to his mother. This picture is recognized the world over as one of the most tender scenes. But when the baby insists on getting up through the night, the mother will not get her rest. The mother sometimes hands the baby over to the father. They both start losing sleep. In order to avoid confrontation or out of just plain ignorance, some parents resort to having their child sleep with them. This leads to other problems. When problems are avoided instead of being resolved, greater troubles are created.

New parents especially need to be aware of this tendency. As he gets older, his baby cries turn first into whining and then into complaining. If allowed to go on, they become demands and rants. Excessive unmet demands are called temper tantrums. Notice what bad habits form when a child's voice is not properly trained.


Cry Development


With a regular 'feed, awake and sleep' routine, the parent is more easily able to discern the precious baby's cries and appropriately respond to them. What should we do, then, when the baby is fine, not sick, not hungry, no dirty diaper, etc. but still cries? We need to allow the baby to cry. By allowing the baby to cry, the baby learns that his desires are not the most important matter in the world. Other people are more important than the baby's demand. They can learn to wait or even suspend such desires. What are the results?

  • The child gets a wonderful lesson on self-control.
  • The baby learns to fall asleep on his own.
  • Tired mom and dad get their needed rest.

As we deal with older children, we should recognize that crying, complaining and whining are plants from the same seed of discontent and demand, the seed of self-centeredness. Their demands for attention should not be rewarded. They should never get what they demand. If the child fusses when asking, they should never get that item; otherwise, we are training them that whining gets results and they will use whining more.

A child says, "I want to watch that certain program." Parent responds, "Not today." The child protests, "But I want to watch it!!!" The parent calmly reminds the child, "You know that anytime you shout at daddy or mommy, you will not get what you want. If you ask again, then you will not be able to watch it tomorrow either."

The child needs to respect his parents by honoring the parents' schedule and purposes. Of course, the schedule should be made with the child's needs in mind. We must help the child obey God by honoring his parents. Consistency by the parents will make it easy for them (and us too). Don't make exceptions. Every exception exponentially increases the difficulty in training the child.


Parents are always training their children! Whenever we do not deliberately train our child, bad and frustrating habits always occur. It is like a neglected garden where little weeds become large plants that choke out the good plants.

I passed by the field of the sluggard, And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense; And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles, Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. (Proverbs 24:30-34)

If the parent does not train the child, then the child effectively trains the parent to meet his every wish and desire!

Pause for Reflection: Does your child whine or complain? First examine your own life for a complaining spirit. Plead with God that He would give you joy in your heart instead! Then think: "How am I rewarding my child by giving him what he wants when he makes complaints or demands." "Do I reward his whining, crying or screaming?"

B. Expectations for Our Children

What can we expect from our toddlers? Let us mention a few things. You can expand your own list.

Plays happily by himself

Our young children should know how to contentedly play by themselves. This doesn't happen automatically. They have to be trained that way. So many people have come up to us and said that your children are naturally quiet. They think it is just the way we are. They don't understand all the hard work to get them to be that way! Application: Does your child exhibit the self-control necessary to play contentedly by himself?

Sits quietly in the high chair

When you put your child in the high chair to eat, do they cry and fuss until you have to take them out and hold them? Or even worse you don't even try to put them in the chair any more. You are avoiding the scene that occurred when you put him in the chair in the past.

Application: Does your child sit calmly in his high chair?

Doesn't persistently demand to get out

Our children should be content wherever we put them. Yes, they do go through certain testing times, but on the whole, they learn to be satisfied with wherever their parents put them, whether it be the playpen, potty, room or car seat. There might be an initial fuss, but it should diminish in less than two minutes.

Application: When we put our children in the playpen or some contained area, do they fuss and fuss until you take them out?

How do you get them there?

Inside: Doesn't touch 'valuables'

Children must learn early in life to respect the property of others. We should not need to child proof our homes by removing our valuables. They know their child does not have the necessary self-control to keep from pulling over the plant or breaking the beautiful vase. They can be trained not to touch certain things.

Application: Have you removed things from your living room because you did not want your child to break them?

Outside: Remains where told

When we send our child outside, we need to know that he will do what we will tell him. We have a front porch, a walk by our house in our yard, a sidewalk and then the street. Depending upon the age, we train our child to obey us to stay within those certain boundaries.

Application: Do you find that you need to accompany your child everywhere to keep him or her safe?

StudyLet me give you an example. When my little Rebekah was about 15 months she came to play in my office/study. She sees lots of interesting things going on in the hallway: Siblings playing, lots of coming and going etc. She wants to go chase after them but she stays in the study playing. She will stay by the door and watch but will not go beyond the boundary into the hallway. I let her open and close the door. I don't need to keep it shut to keep her in. We don't use a gate either. I can still get work done because she has built in rules (self-control) that govern her. I don't need to be her police force keeping an eye on her. How does it work?

Two simple things are functioning when a child has self-control.

(1) She is content to play by herself.

Playing in garden safelyShe is willing to be by herself and amuse herself. We have a supply of toys in the study for her use. She likes the mundane little container or a pencil and a piece of paper. Experienced parents know this! But she will play with these things for a long time. Not only 5 minutes but until it is dinner time. She has been playing for an hour in my study while I write this article on self-control. She plays around with the different toys and books in my study. I don't have to entertain her. She entertains herself.

(2) She governs herself according to the rules.

She constrains herself to go by the rules. She is only 15 months old, but she will not go through that door unless I give permission or someone comes to get her. She knows the rules. What are the rules? The most important one is not to go out the doorway, but there are many others. I need to clarify some of them.

Sometimes she will come by and touch my computer mouse or something on my desk. I have not set rules for some of these things. If it is there temporarily, I just move it out of reach. But if it is one of my many books or keyboard, I instruct her, "No, no." Sometimes to emphasize it I need only to clap my hands two times. She does often pout and cry for about 15 seconds but then goes and play with other things. You might think she is a super-passive child. This would be a very wrong conclusion!

She is our child and we think she is special as all parents would think of their own sweet child. Our point is rather that your child can do these things just as well. Ours are not worse or better just trained. Every child can be trained. Let us look at the specific steps for how to establish these built-in controls in all of our children.

C. Specific Steps for Training

Let us start with a certain scenario. Upon reaching the toddler stage, a child is mobile and instantly introduced to new fields of exploration. Our situations are different in some ways, but they are very similar. For example, we have a living room woodstove that heats the house and runs very hot 24 hours a day on cold days. This is not a simple fireplace that is constructed in the wall. It protrudes out into the living room by about four feet including the hearth.

What would you do? Your child is just starting to crawl. You foresee the danger. Some people would put up gates to divide their living room. We would need a fifteen-foot gate! Others might stop using the woodstove altogether. This would be safe but not to our liking. After all, how long will it be before the child learns not to touch the woodstove? Other ideas are ineffective. A child only needs to pull over a vase or touch a woodstove once to make a lot of damage. Let's tell you how to resolve this problem that eventually confronts every family. The woodstove is only one example. Substitute your own precious thing for the woodstove.

Linda was clever. The woodstove is a dangerous thing to small hands. The boundary had to be broader for safety's sake. We hardly wanted her to face such dire consequences during training. Training includes correcting failure. We needed a more neutral boundary.

She chose to have our baby stay off the small rug in front of the hearth. She pointed out the curve of the rug to our child and then instructed her not to go on the rug or even touch. She pointed and said, "No." She had a tiny stick and would tap her on her hand if she even touched the rug. She then would remove the baby's hand from the rug. Do notice that she needed to stay with the child for the first couple days of training. You know what would happen once Mom turned her head, don't you? The child would look at that rug and crawl back over toward it. At that point Linda would repeat the command "No, don't touch." Sometimes Rebekah would stop and crawl away. Sometimes she got a sting on her hand for touching. But once Mom responds consistently, the child soon learns that it always a bad idea to touch that rug. After that, she didn't touch the rug. Our stove was red hot, but she would not go near the rug. Those were her crawling days.

What about when she walks? What happened? In the same way she carefully avoids the hearthrug and the whole woodstove area. She applied the same lesson on self-control to when she was walking.

Since she was trained from early on, she knew what 'No' meant. Words were not enough, however to counter her desires. We just need to connect the most gentle swat from a tiny switch (branch) on her hand with the word, "No.' And of course we would remove her hand to where it should be.

She would fuss and cry not because it hurt but because she was prevented from carrying out her will. In this way, the word 'no' was associated with the slight discomfort of the switch. After doing this in a number of settings, we would no longer need to use the switch but simply say 'no.' She would still have the same "I don't like this!" kind of cry, but would humble herself, and do what she was suppose to do.

Let's summarize these points with a chart. We are asking, "What should you do when your young child starts crawling and then walking?" We will list five steps of training.

1) Anticipate: What potential problems will you face?

We need to be proactive rather than reactive. Proactive allows us to calmly strategize and plan. Reactive usually implies shouting, yelling or even screaming. "No, don't do that!!!" "Didn't I tell you before!!"

Once the child can crawl, evaluate the whole room. What will be off limits? Notice those things that might be dangerous or could easily break. The parent needs to decide and then make rules for those areas. The child will need to be instructed for each rule. With the switch in hand, clearly state "No" and show them what they are not to touch. Once the pattern of training is done several times, it is easier to train in other situations.

This proactive search will be repeatedly used as we visit friends, stores or church. Children will learn at home and apply it elsewhere. When we take the child to a new place or they are mobile, we need to remind them that the boundaries are similar to the boundaries at home.

2) Decide: What boundaries need to be set to accomplish what we desire?

In the above scenario, we chose to make the rug off limits rather than just the hearth. The older children know that the rug is okay if one is careful. That is fine with us. This is where we first trained her when she became mobile. We knew she would test us.

If there is a vase on a tall table, we should make the table off limits, perhaps even the area. We just need to make sure the child can understand what is wrong and right. In my study, the boundary is quite obvious-different carpet in the study and hall. We can use masking tape or even lay a rod on the carpet at the boundary. If we are going to make boundaries, then we are also deciding to enforce them`. Inconsistency says that the boundary is only a boundary some of the time.

3) Train: What is the best way to drill these guidelines into them?

Although we have specifically stated these steps already, let us summarize them. We need to rehearse them until we no longer say to ourselves, "I don't know what to do!"

4) Repeat: What things keep you from being consistent?

We need to consistently train our child. If we do keep them doing the right thing ninety percent of the time, it is not enough. The child will then in the future struggle much more with the parent because they know they can get their own way ten percent of the time. So the heightened struggle occurs one hundred percent of the time.

5) Enforce: How can we make resistance counterproductive?

Never give what they fuss for. In fact, make it counterproductive. This means that they actually lose out from whining, rebelling or just having an attitude about some rule. We often just tell the child that they cannot do what they are wrongly asking for not only today but also the next day.

General training Principles

Have good routine and schedule
Have a good routine. In this way the child and parent will learn what is normal. The parent can then see more quickly when something is wrong. We will discuss this more later in the session.

Start very early in life
By the time a baby is staying awake a little longer, give him time to be by himself not entertained or held by grandma. This goes for sleeping too. Don't bring the baby into bed with you except for fun. This also applies to his wake time. If there is nothing needed, allow the baby to cry a bit. Sometimes they are overtired and need to cry it out a bit.

The earlier we start, the easier it will be for the child and ourselves. A tap with a little switch or branch will train the child. Their wills will be trained earlier on so that they will more quickly obey. The parent does not need to be frustrated and feel like giving up.

Join in family activities (e.g. pray)

Have the baby and young child join in a daily prayer time with the family if he is awake. One of us usually holds the baby in our lap and holds his hands in prayer. If the child is not yet sitting by himself, we simply hold the baby or have him nearby. Even our two year old attends the main session of our home school! And yes, of course we have moderated expectations.

Train what not to touch/do or go

As the baby grows, there are things that he should not bite, hold or touch. We do our best not to tempt the child, but sometimes a rule is in order. When the child is doing some inappropriate action, we usually highlight the action (point to it) and gently say, "No, no." As we take it away, the child knows what is happening.

The child learns that there are things they desire but can't have. There are places they would like to go, but are not allowed to. They learn this important lesson of life. This is where patience is developed.

"No, no" This sets up a special verbal clue as to what they cannot do. They will associate the tap of the rod with our words, which they hear. Eventually, they will quickly respond just to our verbal clue.

Slight tap. The slight tap refers to taking a little straight branch off the tree, making it smooth and gently tapping him. If he is reaching for things that he is not suppose to touch, we tap his hand. If he goes where he shouldn't, we tap his foot. If he sits where he shouldn't (like on his brother's hand), then we tap his bottom.

Make him return it. If a child takes something, they should know they are responsible to put it back. If we teach them early on, this can be like a game. "Where does it go?" the parent teasingly asks the child. The child puts the book back and the parent praises the child's right response.

Other consequences. The parents must make sure that negative consequence for doing the wrong thing outweighs the pleasure of getting what he wants. If the child learn that it will not be profitable, then they will give it up. The more consistent parents are in their training, the quicker their children will learn these things.

Let's give a few real life examples.

Getting in a High Chair

A little girl gave her Mom trouble about getting in her high chair for supper. She fussed and squirmed when Mom tried to sit her down. She wanted to sit in a big chair. It would have been easier to allow her to sit in the big chair, but there would be a lost opportunity for training. That would be the end of the highchair. Mom got her little stick (a switch is a small young branch). When the young daughter saw it, she quietly sat down as if nothing unusual had happened. Mom did not use it on her. Once she saw the stick, she without doubt knew Mom was serious and gave up her 'testy' spirit.

Putting on a Nice Hat

Once we tried to put a fancy coat and hat, that someone had given us, on our daughter. We wanted to put it on her. Our child thought it best to wear her jacket instead. She fussed but was willing for us to help her put the coat on. Her siblings were saying how nice the coat and hat looked, but it didn't make any difference for the hat. She would not accept it. She pulled it off (this happened on the way out the door to church).

In my heart I knew that if we gave in here to her wishes, we would have problems from here on. We went to get the switch, and she quickly complied not only to wearing the hat but also leaving it on. Even more importantly is that her testy rebellious spirit instantly changed into a compliant and cheerful spirit.


Rules and limits are demonstrations of love. If we don't teach our children self-control, then we are creating a child who will constantly run into conflict with authority. There will be times when the child goes through stages of challenging the rules. This often happens when they become aware of other ways of doing things like when they become conscious of their own wills (two-year olds) or see a friend get away with something.

Those who have not properly trained their children often end up calling them troublesome toddlers. (We don't allow name calling in our home). Although it might seem that we have failed, the opposite is true. Just carefully affirm your rules. Discipline him (more on this at a later time). Endure a bit more crying and fussing, and the child will return to the former compliant attitude. He will apologize, and of course we will forgive. All is restored. We have blended truth with grace. The child is happy again!

Pause for Reflection: We are humbled by how much we have failed our Lord and most of our children by not having trained our children from the beginning when it doesn't hurt so much. "Please God, forgive us. But now help us be consistent that so that we can minimize 'extra' grief to our children. Amen."

The earlier we start, the easier it is for everyone involved.

D. Setting up Childhood Routines

A routine is a group of regularly performed specific activities.

Children need to be trained to do each of these behaviors.

Self-control is cultivated by having a good routine from the very earliest baby days. Routine sets the stage for good habits to be formed and is the context in which self-control can flourish. If there is no routine, the baby or child will not know what to expect. He will then see this as an opportunity to get his way and indulge his desires. Having a routine is essential to training.

What do we mean by routine? Routines occur when we carry out activities in a same and timely manner. For instance, from the very first time you sit him/her in the high chair, you always say, "Time to eat. Let's get in your chair." This is instruction. Then cheerfully sit him down and always buckle him in even if he fusses, squirms or you think he doesn't like it. Do it anyways.

If you always do the same thing in the same order, he will know no difference and will accept this as the way we do things.

God has routines in nature too. We see the sun, night, stars and moon all perform their duties. They change at times but the process is the same. During the winter the sun goes down earlier. The sun, however, still goes down. The shadows creep in. People and animals go to sleep. The process just starts earlier. Seasons include a variety of events. One comes, the other goes.

There will be times when the child will balk. Don't ever give him what he wants. If he fusses, Routine chartbalks, cries or whines, still do what the routine demands. If he knows you will always be consistent, he will get past his fussing. Don't change the routine. He is trying to get his own way against yours. Parents must decide what is right. Once we make an exception, we have just made things much more difficult. Be consistent.

There are a myriad of things that ought to be included in a child's routine.

Routine is established with the child's needs in mind. Routines change as a baby/child grows. Always introduce the next routine with pleasant words and tone of voice. A tired child will be glad for a nap if it is associated with pleasant words and calm routine.

If you have neglected a certain routine, and the baby/child has been dictating what you do in regards to feeding time, sleep time, play time, etc., you need to take back the authority you gave away. Decide what you want with his needs in mind and take steps of getting into a routine. Here are some areas that need routine:

Potty training is perfected by routine.

Good eating habits

Proper sleeping habits

Obedience is assisted by routines

The above chart highlights the many routines that are necessary to help the child know what his role is. If routines are initiated when the baby is tiny, they don't know any differently and the absence of struggle is noticeable. They accept "This is the way we do it in our family".

Breakdown of Routines

We need to remember that every routine is made up of a number of individual components.

Note the 'Rise and Shine' or waking routine.

Wake up (How does one wake up? Self, alarm, be called?)

Get up (How much time to actually get out of bed?)

Make Bed (Making the bed to Mom's satisfaction).

Dress (Putting on the right clothes the right way).

Put away clothes (Putting away bed clothes and dirty laundry).

Hygiene (Toilet (mini-routine), brush teeth, hair, wash).

Each of the routines can be broken into their specific tasks. A routine will go smoothly when the child is trained in each specific set of tasks. Our children, for example, get upset if they don't brush their teeth. Sometimes the training process takes a while. Brushing the teeth routine includes: going to the bathroom when told, reaching the brush, getting a small cup of water, wetting the brush a bit, putting a tiny bit of toothpaste on the brush, putting the tube back covered, brushing correctly, spitting out the toothpaste, taking a little drink of water, rinsing off the toothbrush, putting the toothbrush away in its proper place, putting cup back and leave the room for what is next.

The parent shows the child by explaining things and encouraging the child's ability to do it. The parent will do it for the child for a while until the child seems to be able to do it on his own. The child then takes over while being supervised. Self-control is fully implemented when the child does the specific task, and later the whole routine without any parental observation.

Points of Frustration

When you feel frustrated, you probably have either discovered a task within a routine that is not being rightly done or a missing routine. Training is required. For example, what happens to coats, boots and hats when your child arrives home? If you find yourself upset about where they end up, then you need to train them more effectively.

It would be helpful to review the whole routine (coming home routine) and each task that you want completed. This will help you more clearly see what tasks are needed and the overall purpose of the 'coming home' routine.

Remember, a parental attitude of joy and patience along with firmness is important to gaining a child's co-operation. No one wants to be around a grouch, including your child.

Routines are tools not masters

It is easy to see our routines as our end goal to happy parenting. This approach will cause difficulty. God has placed the parents in charge rather than some set of routines. Routines serve parents and children. God set parents in charge because they have the wisdom to discern God's goals and make the necessary adjustments.

We have discovered good routines enable parents to have more flexibility when needed. This Friday we have an evening Thanksgiving service. Because our children go to bed at regular times, does this mean we should not go to the service? Not at all. We might add a nap to their day or plan to let them sleep a little later the next day, but it is important to be with God's people celebrating God's goodness. That is more important. So we adjust to God's schedule. There will be times that it is impossible for them to attend (because of sickness, conflict, etc.), but it should not be because we want to strictly keep some routine.

We need to allow God's will to govern our lives. We make adjustments and the children see that we make the Lord's way a priority. They learn that they also should make Him a priority.

E. Children's Daily Schedule

A mother can easily get overwhelmed with the many things to do during a day. Having a good schedule greatly clarifies her goals and helps her keep attentive when interruptions occur.

A daily schedule includes a combination of routines. We might have nine regular routines such as getting up, eating lunch, etc. throughout each day and several irregular ones depending on what day of the week it is. We might want to include going shopping or visiting a friend. The schedule helps put things in order so that parent and child know where they are headed. This schedule is an example of one we use for our home-school children. It is not exact. As children get older, their school days extend well into the afternoon. Our older children keep their own schedules. At times we need to make sure we are working with each other such as in giving rides or having family devotions. They, however, have their own routine.

7:30 Rise & shine: Wake Up (Get up, make bed, dress, put away clothes, hygiene)
8:00 Family devotions at breakfast table: Devotions (Assemble, pray, sing, scripture)
8-9 Breakfast (Eat, do assigned jobs)
9-12 School (joint and separate)
Noon Lunch (arrive, eat, do assigned jobs)
1:00 Nap routine
2:00 Computer time
2:30-5 Friends/library/play
5:00 Pick up designated areas/PBS Tv or video
5:30 Set table (assigned)
6:00 Supper (arrive, eat, do assigned jobs)
7:20 Bed routine (Dress, hygiene, pick up)
7:45 Family Devotions (Assemble, sing, scripture, pray)
8:15 Rebekah to bed
8:30 Benjamin, Kathryn, Isaac to bed
8:45 Daniel to bed
9:15 Allison to bed

Build in flexibility. We remind our children that just because we regularly do a certain activity it does not mean that we will always do it this way. Children will try to insist on the authority of the schedule rather than the parent. We need to make clear that the parents are always in charge and can change things if they so desire.

Job Routines

My wife keeps a small whiteboard in the kitchen entrance where daily jobs are added on to the above schedule. This is the 'Who does what board.' This way she does not need to hear the famous, "But I didn't hear you" excuse. She doesn't have to tell anyone. We simply train them to read the board.

The above is the semi-fixed school day schedule. There are many other things not mentioned in it. Dad and Mom also have schedules. Parents do not rotate around the child's schedule, but the child around the parents. This helps simplify life. Of course, as the children grow older they will have more activities, and these can seem to dominate things. We have purposed to keep life simple.

Sports and entertainment

Some parents feel compelled to give their child every opportunity that comes around. Soon sports, classes and entertainment-activities (seeing movies, parties) have almost suffocated family life. The family ends up never being together except to escort the child to the next activity. Our suggestion is to purposely build a home-based family.

Our children can get their exercise riding a bike around the neighborhood. A sports team is too demanding. As a pastor I am humbled at the many parents who involve themselves and their children in regular sports activities on the Lord's Day. "Yea, my son has a match. I can't make it to church."

I wonder if they know that they are training their child in a secular mindset. It is more important to please the coach than to worship God? The father needs to decide what is appropriate for his family. He is accountable to the Lord Almighty. May God help us make wise decisions rather than follow the pathway of the world.


God has given us the tools we need to train our children to do the right thing even when we are not around. We do not need to accompany our children everywhere. (It's a good thing with eight children!) By training, routines and schedules they pretty much operate as we wish without much fuss. Like a technician, we identify the routine and the different elements that we want accomplished, we spot the problem, add training and the routine is up and running. This enables our children to accomplish what we see is best.

This kind of training, along with time scheduling, provides us with plenty of time to do what we need to do at work and at home. We also allocate time to be with our children and just enjoy them. Dad might take them to the park. Mom might bake a special desert. We focus on developing a relationship with them rather than 'always' criticizing them for things they are not doing right.

Parenting Principles

  • Parents are always training their children, either for good or bad.
  • We should expect crawlers and toddlers to do what we tell them.
  • Well thought-out routines are a prerequisite to training.
  • Training consists of instructing and enforcing specific behaviors and attitudes.
  • A routine is a set of repeated tasks that the parent has trained the child to perform.
  • Parents need to keep schedules flexible to accomplish God's will.'

Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted: (C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988

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