Jeneric Jeneralities ~ by JenIG
December 8th, 2006
Is Your Kid A Monster?

I had some neat emails that came in about an article I wrote, called How To Make A Monster In Three Easy Steps, which was recently posted on Crosswalk (originally posted in the Fall 06 issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine).  Here is one of the emails(printed with permission):


Hey Jenefer, I got this email [article] in my inbox from Crosswalk Parenting and thought it was fantastic.  Read some entries on your blog and LOVE what you have to say.  My question is, do you have any practical ideas or tips as to how to avoid making a monster?  Simple stuff I can try to implement with my kids?  Or do you have any books you can recommend that go into more detail?  Thank you so much for your help.  I also love your recent post about Christmas.  Made many things a little clearer in my mind.  I can finally release some guilt!  Thank you!!

Crystal Malek

Mom of 3 (11 months, 29 months, and 49 months….hoping for more) in Corpus Christi, Texas


It got me thinking about my own general parenting philosophy.  So here is a list. Not necessarily posted in order by ‘most important’.


  1. Be a dedicated Christian who knows God and loves God and start your ‘good behaviour training’ by age six months.  By six to eight months, kids are already incredibly smart.  They can totally learn sign language to communicate – I am not kidding – like ‘all done’, ‘bye bye’, ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘please’, and ‘thank you’.  They are more than able to learn what can and cannot be touched, bitten or stepped on.  Truly, this is a perfect age to start molding your kid into a non-monster.  You are able to teach them how to be content and how to cry quietly (I learned that from reading a book about the life of Susanna Wesley – she had about 70 kids and realized really quickly that a house full of screamers could turn a perfectly normal brain into a lump of creamed spinach), they are also old enough to learn that throwing fits never ever ever ever never ever without a doubt never ever works.  Monstrous behaviour should be quickly associated with unpleasant end results.  If you reward kids with bad behaviour (crying, fits, kicking, screaming, pouty sad little faces, etc) you will pay for it – and so will they when they are older.  


  1. Pray your head off.  I’m not kidding.  God is much bigger than bad parenting skills.  Honestly… everybody always says, PRAY, but I wonder how many people take that seriously.  Pray constantly.  Pray for your kids, pray with your kids, let them see you praying earnestly for them and for yourself.  I’m always praying, “Lord, help me to be a better example, please help me to be nice and a good mom to these kids”.  When they know that I realize that I’m far from perfect, it makes them trust me more and love me more.  Kids cannot stand a phoney.


  1. Be sweet, pleasant, fun and kind.  Do not be a hypocrite.  If you are a whiney, self absorbed, manipulating, screaming/yelling, cry baby, your kids will not only hate you, they will have the secondary curse of inheriting this monstrous behaviour. Never scream or yell.  There is never a reason to do it.  I think Woodrow Wilson said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”.  Brilliant.  


  1. Never apologize for spanking your kid.  That gives the assumption that YOU did something wrong.  You can feel badly for your kid (who likes a spanking?) but they CHOSE the spanking by their bad behaviour.  Apologizing, or acting like you’re all torn up inside, for a spanking that they well deserve sends the wrong message and will cause them to become manipulators.  Never spank your kids when you’re angry.  It will do more harm than good.  Spanking is a tool that is very helpful and should be used… but if your kid does not want to hug you afterwards, or even worse, if you do not want to hug your kid then the whole thing was counterproductive.  Remember, you are after their HEARTS, not just after their actions.  If you don’t have their hearts then nothing else matters.


  1. Delight in your children.  Do they see your face light up when they come in the room? Or are they a bother?  Your relationship with them will determine 95% of their behaviour.  Do they love you? Do they like you?  Are you fun to be around, or will they get out of your house and away from you as fast as humanly possible?


  1. Real training will be done during ‘non conflict’ times.  When you’re in the car, or snuggled on the couch together, or tucking them in, or teaching during the day… THIS is the time you will win their hearts and instruct them in righteousness.  This is the time to give them the ‘why’ behind the questions.  When they are little they should learn how to obey right away without question.  As they are older, they will learn when and how to ask the ‘why’.  Here’s a quick example.  When Coie was five she went swimming in her Gramma’s pool.  She was bobbing and paddling around with her little life jacket on.  Geoff and I were at the edge of the pool when all of a sudden we noticed a water snake that had slipped into the pool and was heading towards her.  I’m sure it was harmless, but it was scary looking!  Her dad said, very calmly, “Coie, come here, swim towards me and take my hand”.  Without asking why, she paddled over to him and he pulled her out.  It was a monumental teaching moment that was never forgotten.  We turned her around and pointed at the snake in the water, which was now right where she had been swimming, and told her, “you are a very wise girl to come quickly when we call.  If you would have been a brat and turned around to swim away, you would have been face to face with that thing”.  We practice Immediate Obedience all of the time.  I’ll tell Ryann, “Hey Ryann, stand up and put one hand on your head”.  And she does it – all my kids think it is funny.  They know I want them to learn Immediate Obedience and they know why.  If they fail to immediately act out one of my commands I tell them, “you totally flunked.  I was testing you.”  These little silly lessons help reinforce a core belief.  Practice makes perfect.



  1. Teach your little kids to practice sitting still by having them sit in a chair for a set amount of time.  Give them a book or a toy.  This is great practice for church or doctor office visits.  If they throw their toy down, they don’t get it back.  If your kids refuse to sit in the chair then stick them in their beds.  Stay sweet and gentle during any sort of training exercise otherwise the whole thing is worse than worthless. It’s counterproductive. 



  1. Treat your spouse with kindness, love, gentleness, compassion, and with a ready spirit to help (I’m bad at that last one).  Your kids will treat you (and someday their spouse) exactly how you treat their dad (even if he doesn’t deserve to be treated nice — lucky for me, mine does!).  What’s more, they will judge you by how you treat their dad and if they ever hear you make excuses about why you treat him badly, they will lose respect for you. 



  1. Do not allow them to be sulky, pouty, sullen.  Tell them to be pleasant.  If they don't, have them go to their rooms and come out when they are cheery.  My one year olds were able to learn the command, “Be pleasant”.  They would give these sort of strained smiles with their eyebrows up, and within seconds they would lose their bad attitude.  If they could not or would not be pleasant they would spend a goodly amount of time in their boring crib.  They soon learned that it payed to ‘be pleasant’ and to let bad attitudes go.


Ok, so there you have it.  This is a very loose list and I cannot imagine it really being beneficial because there is so much more to anti-monster inoculations.  But anyhow, I was asked for a simple list, and this is what I  came up with at 3:14 am.



PS Thanks to all of you who left a comment on the ‘Christmas Post’.  Those were highly interesting to read.

December 8th, 2006 - Posted in Uncategorized | | 21 Comments

21 Responses to ' Is Your Kid A Monster? '

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    on December 8th, 2006 at 6:00 am

    Untitled Comment

    Some wise advice here. Thanks for sharing!

  2. FaithfulGrace said,

    on December 8th, 2006 at 7:42 am

    Great tips..

    I’ve wanted to come over and give you kuddos for the Crosswalk article.

    It was forwarded to my homeschool support groups email loop. Would it be ok to copy and paste this to them?

    I always enjoy reading your stuff, and your daughter’s blog too.

    In gratitude,


  3. jayfromcleveland said,

    on December 8th, 2006 at 9:16 am

    Untitled Comment

    Mrs. Ig, so what happened to #3?

    Having been quite monstrous as a child myself, I’m astounded that God has mercifully spared me from having kids like myself. The Debstiss has always been so cute and patient with our kids, yet very firm and consistent. I’m happy to report that our kids are very obedient, compliant and trustworthy. They seem to genuinely care about pleasing us, and there’s a lot of love in the house.

    You always see the little monsters in restaurants, pitching a fit, sassing the parents and maybe even throwing around their food. There’s always some dad, totally oblivious to the kid, with a brainless yuppie mom, talking to the kid in a sing-song voice, saying stuff like, “Now be nice little Justin or else you’ll get a time-out,” trying hard to not expose the little sweetheart to any negative engrams! I don’t who I feel worse for — the kid, whose fate on deth row is sealed, or the clueless parents who wonder why Dr. Spock and their New Age philosophy isn’t working.

  4. drewsfamilytx said,

    on December 8th, 2006 at 9:17 am

    Untitled Comment

    I will definitely have to try out the testing for immediate obedience! We’ve done this a few times, but not consistent or often enough for it to actually stick.

    Thanks for the ideas! I know it’s going a bit out on a limb to post these kinds of things…but *I* for one appreciate it!


    Marshie– the boring bed has been a great lifesaver for me as well…especially when I get really upset about something and need a few moments alone to get control of myself. Go…to…your…bed. Now that is one command that the kids rush to obey!

  5. Anonymous said,

    on December 8th, 2006 at 11:36 am

    Untitled Comment

    great, wonderful advice! you are brave to post it-common sense parenting seems to be very out of fashion now. I have 4 kids, and have never had one of them throw a fit. The closest was twice-my oldest threw herself down on the ground to begin one, but we picked her up and firmly told her to stop, she did and I sang and prayed with her-she had an ear infection so we understood her strange behavior. And my youngest had thrown herself down once-and was commanded to get back up and go sit on her bed, and she did. magic!

    I don’t go around bragging that..I figure the parents parenting by popular methods today wouldn’t believe me.

    you are brave to post this…but it is much needed, I wish I could send the link to a few friends.


  6. JenIG said,

    on December 8th, 2006 at 11:50 am

    Untitled Comment

    Hi Linda, yes, please feel free use whatever you’d like.


  7. C. Malek said,

    on December 8th, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you

    Thanks for responding to my email! Great advice. I know that the most important thing I can do as a mother is get as close to God as possible and pray without ceasing. It’s amazing how things start to unravel if I haven’t read my Bible in a few days, or spent much time in prayer. If I constantly ask Him to make me the mother my children need, I know He’ll come through. He always does. Thank you again for your wonderful insight.

    Crystal Malek

  8. Jocelyndixon said,

    on December 8th, 2006 at 8:27 pm

    Untitled Comment

    Well, since I don’t have a child, no, it’s not a monster… ask me that in a few years!! LOL

    I hope you will to! God bless!

    Mára mesta,

    Edhël ó Loriën

    Read my latest post here: The Eldar Days

    Daughter of JacqueDixon, and sister of SuperAngel, Tigerlily the Hobbit and Young Man in Training

  9. iluvmy3chickiesandtheirdaddy2 said,

    on December 8th, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    Hi Jen….

    that was FANTASTIC advice. And at 3:14 a.m, that brain of yours was working extra extra overtime!!!!

    Love, Dawn

  10. amada said,

    on December 8th, 2006 at 10:58 pm


    That is a really great list… although I think one of the monster makers is not getting enough sleep… 3:14am? Girl, you are amazing if you aren’t a monster in the morning after staying up that late!!

    Hey, I just wanted to say hi and that I read your post about Christmas, and I agree.

    Also, you come see my contest, as if you have nothing better to do….



  11. JacqueDixonSoulRestES said,

    on December 9th, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    Love Them, Jen…

    I loved your timely article, and I love these…

    GREAT list. What an encouragement!

    Be Blessed!

    Mom to SuperAngel, Myrtle, Tigerlily and Young Man in Training

  12. annointed said,

    on December 9th, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    Timing is everything…

    We are in the throws of trying to keep our daughter from falling over the cliff into “unpleasant” behavior” – it is mostly an attitude issue – she has had to carry an even larger burden than most 10 yr olds, being my main caretaker while I am recovering from my accident…(hubby is on the road alot right now) it has begun to wear on her (and me) and is showing itself through her unwelcome sighing, snipping, and an attitude that she is being “put out”.

    Not at all the young lady we have trained to serve with a loving heart…

    The story and comments with regards to “immediete obededience” were very timely for me to hear – I was feeling discouraged, like I had begun to sound like a broken record… “just say “ok mom” – UGH!!!!

    I shared your story and the conversation with my DD a few moments ago it turned on a lightbulb for her…

    The understanding that we have trained her to have immediete obedience in a safe zone, so that if she is ever in a danger zone the automaticity of obedience will kick in and possible save her from harm.

    Thank You!!


  13. jayfromcleveland said,

    on December 9th, 2006 at 3:30 pm

    Untitled Comment

    Mrs. Ig, party? Did someone say party? Can’t tell you if we’re going because we haven’t been invited anywhere in Feb!!! However, even if we were invited, it’s hard to say whether we could make it, since our dance card for Feb is already filling up (mostly with scout stuff). We dont do too many road trips, esp with babies. Also, I’ll hopefully have a book product in press at that point, which means I might either be insanely busy or else it’ll be the calm before the storm. Never been in the situation before so I dont know which (though my guess would be the former.) But thanks for asking. -j

  14. DMalament said,

    on December 9th, 2006 at 6:26 pm

    How to create a non-monster…

    Great list, Jen. BTW, I think it was Teddy Roosevelt who said “Walk softly, and carry a big stick.”

    And thanks for visiting my blog. I have cut down the pine forest!


  15. JenIG said,

    on December 9th, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    Untitled Comment

    thanks Diana! you’re right, it tweren’t woodrow. kate kessler emailed ,me earlier about my misquote, but i’ve been too lazy to go in and edit it.


  16. homeschoolhighlites said,

    on December 9th, 2006 at 8:24 pm

    That's a great list…

    I especially like #2 (I call it my “secret weapon”). And I have a one year old who needs some work with #10 ,so, thanks for the reminder! I think I’ve been letting him get away with being pouty just because he’s “the cute little baby”. Hmm,

    “Be Pleasant” just may be my new motto.

  17. Rebeca said,

    on December 9th, 2006 at 11:09 pm

    Untitled Comment

    Thanks for this. We are struggling with some real monsterishness right now.


  18. Buckeyeblog said,

    on December 12th, 2006 at 11:59 am

    Excellent answers, my dear!

    There were so many great answers (10 acutally) that I'll comment on each one…

    #1~RIGHT ON!! When the girls would whine/beg/pitch a fit, they leanred that it made me NOT give in to what they wanted. I've even had this conversation with salesmen who wouldn't kindly hang up so I wouldn't have to hang up on them!

    #2~You said is all – PRAY so that they KNOW it!

    #4~(What happened to #3?) "Speak softly and carry a big stick" may have been Teddy Roosevelt, one of my heroes. Me: be TONS of fun but don't be a push-over.

    #5~Kids are spanked b/c of THEIR CHOICES.

    #6~Home SHOULD be their favorite place to be.

    #7~When we tell our girls to do something and they ask, "Why?" we automatically say, "What's the first reason?" To which they automatically answer, "Because you said so." Plain and simple, end of arguement. We also suscribe to "life lessons are better caught than taught." Your example of immediate obedience w/o question was great. As homeschoolers, the looming threat of the truant officer sticks somewhere in the back of my head. That's been a prompt for immediate obedience: if someone is at the door and I tell you to go upstairs, don't stop to ask 'why' or go look out the front window — GO!

    #8~We rarely used our church nursery. We wanted the girls to learn early on that "certain places require certian behaviors."

    #9~Perfectly said! Plus, we LOVE to "embarrass" the girls (at home) by being mushy and lovey in front of them. When they roll their eyes and tease us, we say, "You should be glad that we are still so much in love after 22 years of marriage! MANY AREN'T!"

    #10~In house house where Daddy and the dog are the only males, we call that "reigning in the hormones!" HAHAHAHAHAHA!!

    Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

  19. Jenny said,

    on December 14th, 2006 at 6:28 pm

    Re: How to Make a Monster in Three Easy Steps – questions

    Hi Jenefer,

    Read your article. I meant to email you but I couldn't find an email address on your blog. Would you email me your answers: – also feel free to post the reply on your blog.

    I know of a lovely couple – friendly, generous and warm. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for their little one. He's about 3 years old.

    Oh the tantrums he'd throw when his favourite TV program is being interupted (being asked to take a bath or stop watching so he could have his meal).

    Tears would come immediately with lots of shouting and screaming at his parents. You have to literally drag the screaming child away from the TV.

    And sharing things is another problem. I noticed that EVERYTHING is HIS. Let me illustrate – a group of children about the same age plays together and were each given a pencil / pen. He'd snatched others and screamed that it is his. Not getting his way, he will just hit out at the child that holds that object.

    Now there is no way to turn the clock back but surely there is a solution to this. How can he be trained?

    I dread that my own little one (coming soon) will end up this way.

    How early an age do you discipline a child – light spanking on the bottom? You said that 6 months and the baby is smart enough – so is 6 months the general guideline?

    Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!


  20. dawilli said,

    on December 14th, 2006 at 6:48 pm

    Great Post!

    Absolutely fabulous list, I could never write that coherently at 3:14 am…

    I always appreciate well thought out advice like this from any (trusted) source I can get it from. If only I could internalize it all to the point where it would automatically pour out of my life. So much of the time I feel like such a lousy parent… but knowing is half the battle, right? If I didn't feel bad about it I wouldn't be striving to do better… and so, by the grace of God, I'll keep trying, and my children will be blessed for it.

    Thank you for this,

    enjoying them,


  21. Anonymous said,

    on December 14th, 2006 at 8:35 pm

    Untitled Comment

    Thank you Jen for putting those things down.

    They were like a little refresher course for me.


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