Last Updated on March 20, 2018

As a mom, I often find myself repeating things over and over and over again:

“Please don’t whine. Ask politely instead.”

“You must pick up your room before you can go and play.”

“That was not showing kindness to your sister. Go back and try again.”

“Did you brush your teeth?”

“We do not scream in this house.”

As I’m saying these things for the umpteenth time, it’s easy to feel discouraged that all of the hours I’ve invested in training my children are resulting in little fruit. I mean, shouldn’t I be able to just tell my child something once and they remember it?

And yet, I’m encouraged by Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Training doesn’t happen automatically. It’s doing something repeatedly for a long time period in order to achieve the desired results.

I recently set a goal to run a 5K without stopping. As I’m not naturally athletic (I got my first C in P.E. in second grade, if that tells you anything!), this was a fairly momentous challenge for me.

Lacing up my tennis shoes that first day, I knew there was no way I could go out and run 3.1 miles. So I didn’t even attempt it. In fact, for the first week, I was doing good to make it past the mile marker without stopping.

Since I’ve not had much experience at all with running, though, I wasn’t frustrated at myself for not being able to go a longer distance. I knew it would come with time and practice.

I slowly paced myself over the next few months, running multiple times each week and pushing myself to go a little farther each time. At the end of three months, I ran 3.1 miles without stopping for the first time ever (don’t ask me what my time was, though!). It was exhilarating and fulfilling–in large part because of the effort and sweat it took over the past few months to achieve this goal.

Training for a 5K gave me a new appreciation for what it means to train my own children. When I get frustrated at them for not cleaning their room correctly, or when I become flustered at having to remind them, yet again, to use correct manners, I’m forgetting that I can’t expect perfection from the get-go.

Just like I wouldn’t be able to run a 5K without hours of training and practice, so I can’t expect my children to have perfect behavior and good manners without me putting forth the effort to work with them. They won’t just naturally know how to clean their room or put away their toys if I don’t take the time to teach them, help them, gently correct their mistakes, and practice having them do it the right way repeatedly.

God has given me the job of training my children with these life skills. And that means I need to willingly and joyfully accept the fact that I’m going to be repeating myself a lot.

And some day, I trust that the repetition will pay off!

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  1. Great parallel to training children and running. I did a 5k last year and it was definitely something I had to train for!

    I loved this part:
    “Training doesn’t happen automatically. It’s doing something repeatedly for a long time period in order to achieve the desired results.”

    Thanks for writing this post.

  2. marriedminds says:

    Yup, needed to read this. It's been on my mind lately–not in your well-worded form, but in that deep sense that I am getting unreasonably annoyed;). Thanks for putting words to it.

  3. definatley something i needed to hear – raising 3 girls under 3 is tough and sometime i just think that one of them just doesnt want to listen

  4. Lisa Hutcheson says:

    Thank you for posting this. I really needed this reminder. We have a four-year-old boy who is a constant trial due to his high-spirited nature and his endless amounts of energy and natural sass. I feel like a broken record most of the time and I wonder if it's doing any good. I guess we'll know when the kids are grown, right? 🙂

  5. I was just having the same frustration this past week. Makes me feel better to know I'm not alone! Proverbs 3:12 says that the Lord corrects those he loves, and that is why we correct our little ones, because we love them!

  6. Thanks for the post, Crystal! My toddler is almost 2 and has perfected the arts of screaming, toy throwing, and tantrum throwing despite my constant attempts at training. I needed a bit of encouragement today.

  7. Laura Hake says:

    Thanks so much for posting this…it was a perfect reminder. We started homeschooling our five year old today, and with a toddler and new baby in the house, I forget sometimes that she doesn't just know these things….that she does have to be reminded over and over again. Thanks for letting God use you like this!

  8. Thank you for the reminder! I also homeschool and have 3 little ones ages 7,6,3. Thank you for all the inspiration you give and in such a Godly way. Blessings to you!

  9. Thanks for this. I, too, get discouraged when I sound like a broken record, and I wonder what I'm doing wrong. But you're so right, these lessons are learned slowly, over time, not all in one day.

  10. Thank you so much for writing this post! As a military wife and stay-at-home mom of two toddlers, it was a much needed reminder that patience and persistence will get us there in the end.

  11. Oh, Yes. I most certainly did need to hear this. Thank you!

  12. Thank you, Crystal. I definitely needed to read this today! And probably every day! =)

  13. I surely did need to hear this today! I have been feeling a little burnt out, and anxious that all our training may not bear fruit. But I have faith. And so I will keep going.

    Thank you!

  14. I have just been realizing this same principle. With 3 boys under 3, I repeat myself numerous times. After going to the Lord for wisdom, I read in Colossians, "do not become weary in doing good, for you shall soon reap if you faint not". That was encouragement and a reminder that training is an ongoing process. Your parallel to the 5K really hits home as a great analogy.

  15. Thanks for the encouragement and the reminder to use scripture to help keep perspective.

  16. After taking the children out to supper tonight, I really needed to hear this. Thanks!

  17. I was having a hard time with this last week. I called my mom and she said that I really need to stay on it because then my kids up like some in the family that are not the best. I talked to my mother-in-law and she said they are wonderful, they are just being 6, 4,3, & 18 months. However, today, at my mom's group, I was reminded at just how good they really are and that they do listen! 🙂

  18. THANK YOU Crystal! I really needed to hear that. Recently I have frustrated because my husband and I feel like a broken record with our 4 year old son. I know that patience is a very important virtue, but it has been difficult at moments. Knowing that other mothers are going thru the same trials is comforting because I recognize that we are not failing. Reminding us of the scripture God directed us to follow is most encouraging because without my parents training me up the way I was to go, I never would have been able to turn my life around and have been forgiven. I am a testimony to that scripture and I should repeat that more often :*) Again, I thank you for sharing your Biblical words of Motherly wisdom.!

  19. Lovely post, Crystal. And just what I needed to read this week!

  20. sunchik33 says:

    Thank you for the encouragement! Just what I needed to read as we head in to starting discipline soon with our 10-month-old. It's always a pleasure to read your articles, Crystal!

  21. Well put Crystal, I liked your parallel of raising our children with training for a race! I think being a Mom comes with a lot of rewards and blessings, however, to remain consistent in teaching our children repetition is necessary as well. I am thankful for the opportunity to have little ones to teach. It is those moments when your child shows genuine compassion and respect for others that you sigh and are grateful for seeing fruit in their lives.

  22. This is very timely for me, Crystal. I have three small children too and most times I feel like a broken record-player! 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement!