A sweet friend of mine asked a few years back for any common-momma experience on how to grow a child in the way he should go when he was wanting to bend the wrong way. This was the answer to that question. I was just reviewing some of the finer points with some of the minors in my life...so here you go..... PRAYER, PRAYER, Prayer, and did I mention Prayer!!!!??!?!?!?! Get your microderm abrasion and exfoliating equipment out because your knees are gonna get some callouses. Encourage your little one to join you in praying for right choice. God is our Might Ally and the Holy Spirit is our Super-Life Coach. God's words can be used right from the page to help pray the right desires in us and our children. Please know, that I do not think I have done this thing called parenting right nor am I anywhere close to being done with it (my momma assures me there is no being done). As I see some of my friends, who are still parenting their adult children who have children themselves, begin a time of parenting their parents I think I understand her comment. Isn't is wonderful that the Sovereign LORD of All Creation, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent and more would choose to reveal Himself to us a Father. How tender His love for us is; but it is a firm love, too. Okay, back to your question. For what this is worth, coming from this goofball, here are some of my experiences/observations and anecdotes. Continue at your own risk. When I asked my own children if I should offer our experiences on this subject two of them said, " UUUUHHHHH, sure ? ". When pressed, my second-born male said, "Restrictions, taking away privileges, time out. Definitely not the Spanking Spoon. Definitely not that. Anything; but that." Methinks he protesteth too much. In addition to prayer (prayer is always the first, best position both offensively and defensively) I would mention the Vulcan nerve pinch. Really. I think Dr. Dobson calls it something else; but when my boys began to jump the fence at Tantrum-City, that little technique worked very well. A modest amount of discomfort to help their minds to get off of the thing (the trouble) that is possessing them. The "hold" does not damage their little bodies or leave marks, it does not twist something into an unnatural state, (like all those poor children whose ears are permanently disfigured and flapping due to parents well-meaning and desperate interactions), it does not hurt after you quit applying the modicum of pressure needed. When my children were spiraling down into the despair of a fit, I found this maneuver to be a very easy and unobtrusive way to grab their attention. Another thing, perhaps in addition to or instead of - each case works itself out one way or another, is to take the child's arms and wrap them gently around his/her body and hug them from behind while keeping the arms secured (tenderly, but with enough of a hold to keep from being struck - we are much stronger than these precious ones, so we do need to take care of the strength applied). One last thing that I can recall, is to give the little one a designated "hittable" - something they can beat the stuffing out of; a pillow or stuffed critter or something which does not resemble anyone. Perhaps this would be a good time to introduce baseball and a net to your darling. Give the energy a place to go and the ball can be thrown as hard as he/she can. The net will take it and the physical activity helps express the child's feelings in a safe way by expending energy in a positive manner. Also, this is skill-building and will help the child to have a sense of accomplishment. Who knows, maybe you will end up with a very talented baseball player. I would begin talks about the wrong use of steroids now, too. If you don't have a portable hittable, then take a notebook along to record the homework. Make sure you note the situation and ask how many times he/she would like to strike the hittable for this circumstance. I bet by the time you get home, the hits won't be very hard or sincere. The notebook serves as a way for them to express themselves and helps them hold it until later. Make sure to throw away the paper with the record on it with your child; closure helps. In conjunction with the authorized hittable item, I have been known to let my precious, little, God-bestowed darling get hit back. I did not make this a habit; but when the ugly was just too frequent, I would instruct the sibling to hit back (while I stood there). I kept this for a extreme measures, since I did not want to communicate that this was an okay reaction. Most times, I had to really encourage the other to hit - since they had been so recently wounded they seemed to be a bit reticent to apply ugly back. Sometimes, it is beneficial to look for patterns. Does the child have difficulty with a particular person, situation, time-frame or other element? It is okay to remove your child from situations which he is not mature enough to handle; but do practice how to conduct oneself in difficult situations. It has been my experience that bad situations and prickly people do not go away, they usually have friends in many other places. Perhaps your wee one reacts adversely after a particular food, drink or candy. I am always testy after someone gives me sweet tea. Encourage the little one to use words before the actions, "I feel so awful that I want to spew this tea across the room" helps me. But of course, the tea is dribbling down my chin by that time and I have nothing left to spit. Anyway, enough about me. Rewards work well, too. Document on the calendar when your sweet one has gone one day or two or a week without the errant behavior. Make a deal with him/her to have a treat or sticker or something special for the good choices. We have used stars on a poster board for daily measures, bigger stickers for week long behavior and glittery stickers for 10-14 day measurements. Calling a grandparent or other tender friend to brag on their accomplishments is helpful, too. Try to pick one that will pray for/with your sweetheart, too. Accountability is worthwhile at a young age. Please know before I continue with the Weapon of Mass-Temper Destruction, I never wanted to be a spanking mom. (I was spanked growing-up (probably not nearly as frequently as I deserved) and it was useful to discourage my undesirable behavior - I am not nor have I ever been pictured in the post-office.) But since I did not get any perfect children (that story has been told in the New Testament) and I am definitely not a perfect anything but a mess - well, maybe I even don't do that 100 % - I leaned on the teaching which worked from my childhood. So, with that typed, I guess I should confess my aforementioned, lastest and bestest secret weapon. The Spanking Spoon - a humble, wooden spoon from the kitchen. My children were very aware of the tool we carried around with us from a very young age - so much so, that for awhile, it was referred to as the 'Panking 'Poon - blended consonants were not yet in our vocabulary. We did apply at home and consistently. PLEASE NOTE I AM NOT ADVOCATING A BEATING OR ABUSE. Do not apply if you are angry, rather chew on the narrow end until you can maintain. Then just a bit of stinging swat on the God-given, well-padded bottom hurts the feelings and the bottom sufficiently that usually the threat/presence of the spoon is enough in a short time to come. Explain what and why you are doing this with the spoon. Do not guerrilla spoon the child. The result of the proper use of the SPOON was that there was a respect for the spoon in public and private settings. It's amazing the reactions you get when you point out the "spanking spoons" available in everyday life. One of my first and favorite examples to my darlings was to show them the large, wooden pizza server from our local Italian eatery. My children have never acted up there - even to this day. What is fun is when they start to point the 'spanking spoons' out to each other. For a fun time, take a trip to a kitchen supply store. Silence has never been so hysterical. One thing we (my man and I) made sure to do with as many discipline issues that we could was to supply "The Lecture" as the punctuation of the event. This is usually long enough for the children to lose whatever fight they had in them. But in the talking time we would point out what God has to say about disobedience, dishonoring parents, tempers, anger, slander, malice, etc. One of the Bible stories our children all received was where Moses lost the privilege to enter the Promised Land because of the rock hitting. Psalms and Proverbs are excellent for encouragement, wisdom and words for praying. Balaam and his donkey (regarding the hitting) is funny with very good principles. This was always the sweetest time, the opportunity to lovingly and quietly plant God's word in the hearts of our babies in very real, relevant and applicable ways. We would close the "session" in prayer and hugs. Many times the whole "lecture" was during a hug. I am praying for wisdom, creativity and teachable hearts for your family on this. I will also pray for your little man to have an extra measure of self-control and for his relationship with his soon-coming sibling. That was a long two years in our home; but that is another email entirely. Be encouraged, you are not alone and this season passes on to another. Oh, by the way, sometimes this era ushers in an era of sassy-ness. I have a great recipe for "Bad-Mouth Potion" that still holds a place of honor in our family. Let me know if you are interested. My children assure me that your son would not want to know about that, either.