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Monday, January 19, 2009

Ambushing Godly Tomatoes

Update: It's up. If you find this review helpful, hit those voting buttons (It's currently the fourth most helpful review).

Here's my latest Amazon review. It's for a book on Christian parenting called Raising Godly Tomatoes. It hasn't been approved yet (and may not be--for some reason they've deleted most of my reviews) but, you'll find it here if it makes the cut.

I'm fascinated by Mrs. Kruger's child-rearing techniques, but I wonder if her tomato gardening comparison is apt. She seems to be applying classical conditioning techniques. I've never been able to elicit a pavlovian response from any fruit or vegetable, and Lord knows I've tried, especially with melons. Gosh it's hard to put a watermelon "in the mood."

Still, it certainly works with dogs and, as Mrs. Kruger notes, babies as young as six months old. And it's important to discipline your babies, because they can be selfish little buggers. Here's how she put it:
Very young children may be self-centered, but this natural self-centeredness has not yet escalated into scheming, haughtiness and other more sophisticated character flaws...If you start early, you are not tempting your child to sin by overlooking his character flaws...Selfishness in a two-year-old is just as wrong as selfishness in a ten-year-old, so if you allow your two-year-old to be selfish, you are just allowing him to sin.
She's right. Thank God all it takes to correct them is a whack on the ol butt:
I watch for them to reach for something forbidden, probably something I've told them "no" to before. I tell them "no," and if they continue to reach for the object, I give them a mild swat on their diapered bottom and say 'no' again.
I particularly liked the part about ambushes:
A little “ambushing” is usually very helpful in getting the message across, that she must obey you even when she can’t see you. Try this: leave her in a tempting situation (perhaps near the plant), then let her think you are away (go around the corner or someplace close by, but where she can't see you). Then watch her closely without her being aware. If she crawls toward the plant, wait until she decides to try to touch it, and be there to give her a sharp "No!" possibly accompanied by a little surprise swat on the bottom, just as she reaches for it.

Surprise is the key. It's the startle factor that provides that little bit of extra motivation needed to make a rule “stick” in your child’s mind. A little ambushing teaches her two things: 1. that Mom is most likely watching even when she doesn’t seem to be, and 2. that a child must always obey, whether or not she can see mom. If you are having “sticking” problems, be alert for opportunities to "ambush." Remember this: Watch, Ambush, Repeat!
Mrs. Kruger's techniques are the same ones I used on Joshua Jr. when I taught him the candy trick. You see, I'd put a piece candy on his nose and make him hold it until I said the word "amen" after reading a Bible verse. Once he heard that word, he could eat the candy, but only by doing it the way I taught him--that is by flipping it into the air with his nose and catching it in his mouth. It took me months to teach him that, but he had it down by the time he was two. It was worth it. All the folks at the carnival loved it.

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We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.