Burping in public, making inappropriate remarks, and spilling milk are examples of childish behaviors. They are due to inability, misunderstanding, and immaturity. These behaviors and many like them need the patient, ongoing training that reinforces what is appropriate. Adults with a well-modulated voice consistently reminding of what is good and true and right will win the day.

Disobedience is another story. You've just explained to your child the wisdom of keeping his glass away from the edge of the table. You've given him directions: "I want you to put your milk on your napkin above your plate.” You've demonstrated what you want done. Then he looks you right in the eye and puts his glass next to the edge of the table. That's disobedience. It becomes a bit more difficult to discern as children enter school. However, the basic question to keep in mind is, "Is this childishness or disobedience?"

Keeping this clear in our own minds while our children are little will help them in very important ways as they get older. Next week I will talk about issues that need to be kept clear in dealing with older children.

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