Thoughts on Child Training or What I Learned While Cleaning My Bathtub

Raising Olives welcomes guest blogger Kimarie from Cardamom’s Pod.  Kimarie and I have known of each other since we were young teens.  Our fathers are both in the ministry and are long time friends.  Kimarie is the mother of 9 children and blogs about her life and family adventures at Cardamom’s Pod.

It was THE DAY.  I was armed with my cleaning supplies – scouring pad and powder, scrubbing bubbles spray, and determination.

It was time to clean my bathtub.

Cleaning is a chore, but hard well water makes it much more so.  Most of the time when we used our sinks, we would use a washcloth to quickly blot up the sitting water before it would evaporate and leave the dreaded “watermark”.  The bathtub was often neglected, due to my lack of organization in cleaning routines, and simple procrastination.

The soap scum came off easily, exposing the dull brown marks left by our hard water.  Scouring and powder worked, but was very tiring.  Off I trudged to the cleaning closet to get the vinegar, which would gently melt away the mineral deposits.  It worked well on the walls, but I became impatient with the crust around the drain.  It was thick and stubborn, and I had already spent more time than planned on this project.  I did not want to wait.  I decided to get… the spoon.  I scraped away large chunks of “stone”, noticing a few new scratches on the metal ring around the drain.  Then, even though I knew it was too harsh – I actually splashed a little toilet cleaner on the remaining bits, melting them away – and etched the metal.  Oh, well – at least it was clean now.  I put a thick application of paste wax just around the drain, and on the walls of the tub area,  trying out a little preventative maintenance.

One thing I have found is that while I am busy with physical labor on something like that, my mind works furiously.  I had been reading some books on child training, and I began to compare that topic with the job I had just completed.

Obviously, the best way to keep my bathtub clean would have been to do so from the beginning.  I could have paid attention to its composition, researched what cleansers were best to use, and found something to protect the surface from the harsh elements.  Have you seen the way water beads up and rolls right off a newly-waxed car?  Have you ever seen the owner of such a car meticulously polishing it every day, getting every speck of dust before it builds up?

With children, it is best to start very young with training – and we need to read God’s Word which tells us what children are like, and how best to train them up.  This adds protection from many future problems. Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us to diligently teach God’s commands to our children – when we sit, walk, lie down, and wake up.

Even if I had placed a protective barrier on my bathtub, experience has taught me that it can’t just be put on one time – it will wear off slowly, and needs to be re-applied on a regular schedule in order to be effective.

It’s all too easy, if we’ve gotten off to a “good start” with our children, to slack in our diligence and begin to lose that initial “protection” we placed around them.  We need to be watchful and active, because God tells us that a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (Proverbs 29:15)  Ecclesiastes 10:13, referring to a house, reminds us that “Because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks.”

I didn’t have a good cleaning routine in place, so the grime built up quickly – even more so with the hard water.  I had young children, so there would be interruptions, and when I grabbed a quick shower, I would just see the dirt, sigh, and put it out of my mind.  “I’ll deal with it later.”

How many times do we do this with our precious children?  We see little behaviors and problems creeping in, and we sigh, thinking of how much time it will take to reprove, correct, and train.  We are tempted to say, “There’s so much going on today, and that problem is so small, I’ll get to it the next time.”  Once again, God’s word has the solution in Proverbs 13:24, and tells us that parents who love their children will discipline them promptly.  Just to be clear, that means right now!

When the stains on the bathtub were so bad that my husband began to hint that I really should clean the bathtub, I formulated my plan, and we’re back to the beginning of this little story.  I grabbed my supplies and tools, and went to work.  I spent a long time, and became exhausted and frustrated.  Then I became impatient, and used harsher tools and chemicals, permanently marring the tub.  If I had just put the vinegar-soaked rag on the stain and waited 24 hours or so – the hard, crusty minerals would have softened and been easily wiped away.  I’d done it before on other sinks – gently and with patience.

Sadly, we are so prone to this as well in our child-training.  We neglect to nip problems in the bud, and they flourish into full grown plants (oops – that’s for another analogy post).  We get embarrassed when someone points them out to us.  We break out the “big guns” and go in blazing.  We work long and hard on the problems – crushing our children’s spirits – instead of following God’s ways of putting on the fruits of the Spirit and gently confronting sin (Galatians 5:22-6:1).  When we get impatient and frustrated, eager for quick results, we may even resort to sinning ourselves – using whatever method WORKS to get this fixed NOW.  Permanent, unpleasant memories are created – in both children and parents – that may last a lifetime.  Thank God that His grace and mercy can heal many of these, but how much better it is to not create them in the first place!

As we raise our children for God’s glory, may He give us the ability to “be sober, be vigilant; because [our] adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).  May we remember that we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” us (Philippians 4:13).

Thanks Kimarie for a beautiful post about how we should train our children and how we so often fail them.  This was a blessing and a good reminder for me. To read more about Kimarie and her family visit her blog, Cardamom’s Pod.

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17 Responses to Thoughts on Child Training or What I Learned While Cleaning My Bathtub
  1. Jenny
    September 8, 2009 | 11:26 am

    GREAT post!


  2. Stephanie
    September 8, 2009 | 12:55 pm

    Thank you.


  3. Tristan from the Crew
    September 8, 2009 | 2:51 pm

    Totally needed this reminder today. Especially to be gentle and patient instead of waiting too long then crushing our children’s spirits. Thank you.


  4. Heidi
    September 8, 2009 | 3:11 pm

    Wow this is a great post, addressing not only the importance of training, but the importance of training both quickly and gently. That is not something I often see written together.



  5. the inadvertent farmer
    September 8, 2009 | 4:33 pm

    Thanks so much…as mom’s we all need this reminder once in a while. Now I’m gonna go clean my shower! Kim


  6. Alice
    September 8, 2009 | 5:34 pm

    This was so helpful to read, and I would love to read more here about child training. Also, a question: So, if I have an almost-5-year-old and a 3-year-old who have not been properly trained and are almost unmanageable, how in the world do I go about training them? I love the part about being patient, but we currently can’t go out, so surely something quicker has to happen to some degree?! I wish I had trained them properly from early on. I just didn’t know about the importance of starting young, back then. I am working on training my 19-month-old though – lesson learned!


    Raising Olives Reply:


    When our kids get out of control we stop everything else that we are doing. The goal is to get things back in order with the children. Depending on how severe the problems are, see if you can order food in or perhaps just use food from the freezer, don’t worry about getting behind on housework and certainly don’t leave the house. The kids need 100% consistency.

    First pray, pray, pray. It doesn’t matter what we do as parents ultimately God must work for our children to change. We can just be faithful with what He commands us to do and we leave the results up to him. Remember this when things get tough. You are not responsible for your children’s actions. You are responsible for how you respond to those actions.

    Now, sit down with the whole family and mom and dad should ask forgiveness from the children for not teaching and training them properly. Use scripture to show them where you were wrong. (“Train up a child in the way he should go.” “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” and more.) Tell them that you have done something wrong and that it has negatively affected them, but that you are sorry and you are all going to work together to make it better, but it is going to be hard work. Make sure that there will be big changes for them and that what has been acceptable will not be in the future.

    Then give your children one rule, yes only one. They must obey mom and dad, that’s it. Show them in scripture where this is required, i.e. “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” Now there are 3 ways that they must obey in order for it to be true obedience. They must obey quickly, cheerfully and completely. You may want to post a sign on the fridge (my parents did that when I was little) with scripture, so they know that you have told them what is required. Even if they can’t read you can tell them what the sign says and point it out when they don’t obey.

    Now here is the hard part. Every time one of your children does not obey quickly, cheerfully or completely you must stop what you are doing and correct them. Then if they don’t obey as they are being corrected, you need to correct them again and again and again. It will seem that you are spending your whole day correcting your children. That is OK (and why I suggested having food brought in or cooking ahead and eating out of your freezer), your responsibility is to respond correctly to your children’s sin. God commands it. “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”

    This won’t last forever and the more consistent that you are the more quickly this phase will pass. We call it Olive boot camp and at our house boot camp has never lasted more than a couple of days. You will probably have longer because this is something to which your children are unaccustomed, but don’t despair. Just be faithful in what God has called you to do and He will bless your efforts.


    Melodie Reply:

    Thank you so much for posting this. We began learning about biblical discipline only a year ago and I feel discouraged with my 3 year old that I had not put these rules/consequences into effect earlier on. We are training in earnest now and started from day one with our 7 month old, thanks to your site and many others like it. God Bless!


    Jessica Reply:

    I know this is an old post, so I hope that you have a notification system! 🙂 I love your blog and am sooo encouraged by it and knowing that there are still people out there that believe children are smart and capable of obeying and even expect them to do so!!! Praise God!!
    I was wondering if you could clarify for me what exactly you meant by “correct” when you said you correct them again and again and again when they don’t obey…? Is that just a verbal correction or is there a consequence that comes with it? Part of the reason why I ask is because (thanks to your blog and the other moms of 35+ :)) we are starting fresh, with new determination with our 6yr old. We have 3 boys (5 months and 19 months) and are finding how easy it is when you start on the right path (with the 19 month old), but how hard it is when your older child is setting a bad example!! yikes! I know that verbally correcting him would literally do nothing except wear down my patience…so I am wondering what all you do when you have olive boot camp! If you spank, do you think 6yrs old is tooo old to spank? And if not, when IS too old? Obviously if they are trained correctly from the beginning, there would be no need for spankings much after the age of 6. Please share your thoughts or direct me to a blog posting that has them! 🙂 Thanks so much!


  7. Fruitful Harvest
    September 8, 2009 | 6:58 pm

    What a great reminder…..I can kind of laugh now. But in the begining of my parenting when I only had a few kiddos(I now have 6 kiddos)
    I would lets things go then pull out the BIG guns…yelling and shouting at everyone!

    Awesome job on the post!

    I also really like the scriptures that tie it all together!



  8. Laura
    September 8, 2009 | 10:29 pm

    How true this is! This is just what I needed to hear today. Thanks for sharing from the heart.


  9. Sarah Joy Albrecht
    June 11, 2010 | 9:19 am

    Aw! Needed to hear this today. Guns blazin’.. yep. So hard to hear criticism sometimes, especially when you know you’re behind… but necessary. Thankful for patient husbands 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this post with me, Kimarie!


  10. Danielle
    September 1, 2011 | 2:25 pm

    The metaphor is very helpful. I put off cleaning my bathtub too, and now that’s we’ve switched from Dove to castille soap, the build-up builds up even faster! Anyway, I can relate. But thank you for the encouragement–I’ll be more diligent in my child training and tub cleaning after reading this!


  11. Brenda
    April 30, 2014 | 12:12 am

    Your blog has been a wonderful inspiration to me. When you say “correct” during your boot camp, is it always a spanking? We desperately need boot camp in our home. Please help!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:



  12. Brenda
    April 30, 2014 | 12:57 pm

    Thank you for replying so quickly. Could you please share some insite on how you correct your children? I am so thankful for your help.


  13. Whitney
    July 10, 2016 | 2:25 pm

    Thank you for this post! I have two little girls. 2y/o and newborn. I have really been struggling with patience with my 2 y/o ever since the new baby was born. That is what prompted me to start searching for advice online. We started out with pretty good discipline around the time she began crawling, but recently instead of nipping things in the bud they have grown into full blown plants.. Quickly! I end up losing my temper with her, especially When I don’t know what to do or say off the top of my head in the heat of the moment. Thank you for this gentle reminder. Days like these are what drives us to our Savior to seek Him for forgiveness, wisdom, and guidance. What child training books would you recommend?


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