Making Children Mind…Final Tips and Summary

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Here are a few final tips I liked from Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman.

  • Child Gets Out Of Bed: If and when your child gets out of bed for whatever reason, send him back to his room by himself. He will tuck himself back in (page 144). I liked this thought and have used it ever since I read it. We used to walk Brayden back up to his room when he got out of bed. Now we just send him back to bed. Many times, he gets out of bed for a legitimate reason (like using the bathroom). He still goes back to bed on his own. This way, getting out of bed loses some of the perceived (and received) social benefit for the child. Why get tucked in only once each night when it can be several times?
  • Freedom to Fail: Leman states many times you need to give your child freedom to fail (155). This means you let your child make mistakes. Don’t hover. We learn from mistakes. And not only that, we make mistakes our entire lives. If your child spends the first 18 or so years of his life with you making sure he either doesn’t have the opportunity to make mistakes (like forgetting to turn in a paper or study for a test) or doesn’t experience the consequences from those mistakes, then he will experience a harsh reality check when you are no longer around to protect him. Let him make the mistakes while the stakes are low. He will learn from them and learn how to deal with them.
  • Don’t Nag: Don’t fall into the trap of reminding your child over and over again to do something (pages 158-159). Create consequences for failure to follow through. Leman uses the example of a pet. Say you are constantly nagging your child to feed the dog. Instead of constantly nagging, tell the child if he can’t take care of the dog, you will have to give the dog to a family who will take care of him. And then the trick is you must follow through.
  • Choosing Clothes: Leman says that allowing your child to choose his own clothes is a great way to teach about making choices. I agree with this and have often said it myself. Leman’s idea for allowing your child to choose clothes is to have play clothes grouped together, school clothes grouped together, church clothes grouped together, etc. You then allow your child to choose a shirt from the appropriate grouping (page 75). This is something you would do for an older child. You can modify this for younger children as appropriate. And remember to watch freedoms and the choice addiction.

I enjoyed this book. I find Leman’s writing style to be easy to read quickly. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and his writing is funny. I definitely think this book is worth the read. If you own a similar book like Parenting with Love and Logic, you might not find it worth owning. But you will find it worth reading.


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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Michelle Plymire
    August 6, 2009 / 10:20 PM

    I love the idea of making children go back to bed on their own if they get up after being tucked in, but how do you get there? My 3 year old frequently does this and refuses to go back to bed without assistance. She is strong willed and would likely consider anything other than going back to bed a reward rather than a consequence.

  2. Mrs. Gongaware
    February 19, 2010 / 8:07 AM

    ha ha this book is all about self-regulation!!! go figure! what an awesome idea! not controlling everything for your child….ok, so children not going back to bed – if the child is to learn to be self-regulated, then there must be a real reason for why they are getting up out of bed1. bed time too early2. not tired enough3. worried about eventsor doesn't want to miss something exciting that may be happening in the homethose i consider real reasons, if the child is getting up out of bed for attention – then it goes back to the first reason – not tired, cause when you are exhausted, you could care less who talked to you that day, right…and i guess for number 4 reason: maybe the child really DOES need some positive attention, but they only get negative as you command them to return to bed, and negative attention is better than no attentionalso, if your child gets out of bed – instead of getting up to walk them back, or commanding them to go back alone – here's an idea – get one of those plastic door knob covers so young children can't open their door in the first place, then they won't have anywhere to go, if you know your child won't destroy the house – then let them go out of the bedroom, but close YOUR door so they can't get in – then, let them sleep in the hallway! or wherever, what's the problem? why do they have to stay in their bed?if your child will get into trouble, like if you have lots of stairs, or things you don't want them to break while they are awake – then you should have never put them to sleep before they were tired! wait till they want to go to sleep, and it that doesn't work – then maybe they didn't get enough stimulation or movement that day… so do something WITH them throughout the day to make them tired, or otherwise – don't complain about it people!if your 3 year old is strong-willed, by escorting her to her bedroom you are entering into a power struggle, which adults can never ever win! so as suggested before, let her sleep in the hallway or the couch or wherever, eventually she will get bored of wondering through the house alone…just make sure there's nothing in your house that will hurt her seriously (if she gets hurt mildly – that's her own fault for touching things she shouldn't) and find out the REAL reason she gets out of bed, if it happens to be because she likes power struggles – then don't get into them with her! and they will stop!

  3. Plowmanators
    March 7, 2010 / 6:19 AM

    I have to disagree with some of the things you said here.One is the plastic doorknob…that works for certain ages, but not for others. I think it can be good for helping them learn that they stay in their room, but it has to be looked at as a help to the long-term solution and not the solution.Also, I have to ask, do you have any children around the age of 4ish? They can definitely be at the perfect state for going to sleep and still find reason/need to get out of bed if they need to. I agree that timing is important and I have posts on that, but it is never all that simple with children. At least not at home. And "overtiredness" creates more sleep problems than "undertiredness."Also with "just make sure there is nothing in your house that will hurt her seriously"–I don't think that is possible if you actually live there. Think of the kitchen alone. Think of the front door she can walk out of. If a three year old could be trusted enough and the house "child-proofed" enough to leave the child unattended and know she would be fine and couldn't possibly get seriously hurt, than running errands would be a lot easier because you could just leave her home to watch over herself. I agree that seeking the root of the reason is the right step to solving getting out of bed. But simple equations of "if child does X, you do Y, and Z will happen" might work somewhere like a classroom setting really well. But in a home, parent-child setting, it just isn't that simple.

  4. Plowmanators
    March 7, 2010 / 6:21 AM

    Michelle, I am sorry I missed your comment until now. Hopefully you got it worked out. If not, apply any consequences for getting out of bed the next day, not that night. She still goes to bed immdiately at night. She just has some consequence the next day. She is old enough to be able to understand (with your explanation) that she will lose TV time if she can't stay in bed, for example.

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