5 Effective Alternatives to Scolding: Training

Leaving the House Routine

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I know all seven of you who have been following this series were wondering if I gave up on these effective alternatives to scolding. 🙂

Never fear–I’m back today with what is probably my favorite.  It is by no means a quick fix and often requires much of me (hello, parenting) but I’ve found it to be quite effective.

Ready for Effective Alternative #3?

3.  Effective Alternatives to Scolding: Training

What exactly do I mean by training?

Well, here’s the thing I realized one day after Yet Another Scolding Session in the car as we pulled out of the driveway, barely on time again–all of us panting and feeling less than friendly toward each other.

Clearly, this method of leaving the house was not working.

It’s been said (by Albert Einstein, I believe) that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Let’s just say that I can attest to the validity of this statement!

My Light Bulb Moment

Around this same time, I had a light bulb moment while listening to a very wise and experienced teacher–who admittedly has no progeny of her own but has years and years of experience teaching the children of others.

She gave the example of asking a few young students to clean a table.  When she came to inspect it, this is what she said to them:

“Ahh, I can see that I’ve never properly taught you to clean a table.”

How great is that!?  Instead of scolding them for failing to meet the standard, she wisely recognized that the standard had never been properly set before them.

They needed to be trained.

Establishing Routines

This realization has transformed the way I react to many–(but not all!)–of my children’s transgressions, especially those revolving around routines and habits.  If over and over I continue to feel frustrated by a certain habit or lack of routine, I am learning to take a few deep breaths and begin to train.

For example, we now have a Leaving the House Routine.  I spent a bit of time devising a list of my top five expectations for the boys prior to leaving the house.

The standard has been fully explained and demonstrated, even posted by the back door. We drill it over and over.

Our Leaving the House Routine

  1. Bathroom–everyone must try, unless we’re making a short trip and they’ve used the bathroom in the past 30 minutes or so.
  2. Water Bottles–respective bottles must be located and Older Brother supervises their filling.  Each boy is responsible to carry his own bottle to the car.
  3. Shoes–shoe choices must be cleared with Mom.  Older Brother assists Little Brother in putting on his shoes.
  4. Jacket / Hat–both boys are now able to put on their own coats.  Depending on the weather, they must select and put on an appropriate hat.
  5. Bring Along–this refers to anything specific they may need for our particular outing that day: Bible (for church), reusable grocery bags (Older Brother’s responsibility), library books to return, etc.
Water bottles, Shoes and Hats
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Water bottles, shoes (with velcro!) and visors.

The boys now know what’s expected of them, and they’ve been thoroughly trained to meet the expectations.

While this routine is not always executed to perfection and it has not eliminated all of our issues with Leaving the House, I will say that it’s vastly improved the whole affair.

More Routines

We’re applying this same concept to other areas of our days and lives:

  • Morning chores
  • Preparing for meals (see picture below)
  • Cleaning up after meals (see picture below)
  • Arriving home
  • Daily homeschool lessons
  • Laundry: folding, distributing, putting away
  • Cleaning up the playroom
  • Tidying bedrooms
  • Bedtime routines
  • And more!

Training children to form routines and habits is hard.  It would be much easier to leave them to their own devices and simply explode at them when they miss the mark of Mom’s Expectations.  But I’m banking on the fact that investing my time in their training will pay greater dividends in the end.

And along the way, consistent training has resulted in less scolding.  It’s a win-win!

What are you training in your home?

Read more from this series:

Photo Credit: light bulb, classroom tables.


Leaving the House Routine
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Kathleen Henderson

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>


  1. Allie on 03/20/2014 at 8:33 pm

    Love your insight on training kids … I need to work on it more with a routine!! I did find a solution to getting dishes done without the fuss … everyone is responsible for their own dishes, cups and silverware each day. In the morning I unload the dishwasher and place the dirty dishes sign out that says “Please scrub and load your own dishes.” All of my kids have been told that the sink is off limits to dishes. At night I run the dishwasher. Our kitchen sink has now been dish free for 1 month. It’s so much easier to get kids to do small easy jobs!

    • Kathleen on 03/21/2014 at 12:03 pm

      What a great idea! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. cami on 09/11/2014 at 10:38 pm

    Thanks. I think i realized the other week that I shouldn’t expect the floor to be cleaned properly if I didn’t show them properly. This was a great reminder and great routine ideas. The water bottle filling is such a time sucker when a family is running late! I liked that one. thanks again! 🙂

    • Kathleen on 09/12/2014 at 1:05 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Cami. 🙂

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