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Teaching/mothering tips

Renee Ellison's tools for effective teaching, and inspirational thoughts about being a nurturing mother.

Six math ditties for conquering problem facts

Tuesday, 22. April 2014 by Renee Ellison

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The following six multiplication facts seem to be recurring multiplication challenges for many young children. Learn these ditties and the problem is solved. For more easy math solutions order our Kindle e-book: Teach Math Faster.

6X6 picked up sticks;
their total number was 36

7X7 make friends so fine;
last time I counted, they had 49

8X8 fell on the floor
and when they got up they were 64

6X7 were oh, so blue—
could only count to 42

6X8 went on a date
and then got married at 48

7X8 were in a fix
until the age of 56

Five reasons not to put your children in public school

Wednesday, 16. April 2014 by Renee Ellison

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One:  Because God is not allowed there
We should never put our children anywhere where God isn’t also allowed.  This exclusion is a warning sign about what goes on in there.  A place where God is not allowed cannot be blessed—be it a brothel, a bar, or a public school.

This translates to the fact that, like it or not, if you put your child where God isn’t allowed—in a public school—you will, by default, raise a secular child.  You as a parent will simply be unable to offset 12+ years of programming to discount God in all subjects and all of life.  To birth children and then raise them to ignore God, dislike God, hate God is a futile use of one’s womb.  Better the child had not been born than to raise a child at odds with God.  If children grow to have no use for God, they do in fact hate Him.

Millions of believers have lost their child’s faith and personal influence over their child’s soul, through the public school system, to their own GREAT LIFETIME SORROW.  They can’t get these years back.

Two: Public schools have become dangerous places
They are dangerous philosophically, as we’ve already mentioned but they can be, in addition, dangerous physically.  Public schools have now been used as the location for random mass shootings with increasing frequency around the country.  Your “oops” may be too late.  It can happen anywhere.  Homeschooled children are not in graves made by mass violence—because they are not corralled in public areas, caged like sitting ducks.  Because of ever-possible lurking dangers, even en route to schools, parents around the US now routinely personally escort their children to the front doors of their schools.  Gone are the days of letting your children walk a mile to school in the big cities, like many used to do in the good old days.  In addition, schools are now routinely, daily, locked tight—i.e., the windows don’t open and all the doors except those at the front entrance are locked—showing that the school’s personnel themselves are afraid of what could happen.  And to make matters worse, teachers are unarmed.  They don’t carry guns—so in contrast to a public mall where someone might be carrying a concealed weapon and could in a moment protect the whole place against a crazy man/teenager shooter—schools are not so armed and haven’t a prayer.  They are defenseless.  Your child is safer in your own home.

Three:  Peer pressure can be lethal
Peer pressure has been responsible for more emotional scarring of young people in their most vulnerable years than any other source.  Most every adult has a story of some embarrassing or terrorizing thing that happened there—some insurmountable bully—some tease—some comment that never was forgotten.  The majority of homeschoolers totally escape such emotional harassment via peers and labeling even by teachers.

Moreover, peers tempt.  Homeschoolers, again, do not suffer the degree of temptation routinely found on playgrounds, in school restrooms and hallways.  Peers simply are not adults; they haven’t an adequate experience base to meaningfully mentor another peer.  Nearly all of the influence from peers will be negative.  The scriptures say: “They that walk with the wise WILL be wise.”  Wise mentors are godly adults, not children.  Despite the touted “excellent” curriculum or “phenomenal” teachers, your child will be most influenced by peers.

You will spend virtually hours of unneeded additional training to root OUT of your child in the short evenings what the peers put INTO them in the long day.  This becomes a royal headache for a parent.  Your children’s unscreened peers will complicate your life, not ease it.

Four:  The curriculum is not neutral
All information comes from a source/a persuasion/a world-view.  There is no such thing as neutral information.  Make no mistake; the modern public curriculum is a radical leftist agenda to the core.  You will be parking your child in front of indoctrination—about family issues, political issues, socialism, and debtor economics.  All, lies.  You would not allow someone to pass through your front door with these ideologies—so why would you take your children to sit at the feet of these ideologies and (in the case of private schools and colleges) actually pay for this indoctrination?

Five:  God gave YOU the job of mentoring your own children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
This is a command from God, not a suggestion.  In a classroom of 30 children, your child will barely get noticed—no matter how dressed up the teacher gets for back-to-school night.  Your child’s teacher will have his/her own personal problems to deal with up the Ying Yang.  He/she may be reliving what happened over the weekend, texting and phoning relatives, fraternizing with the teacher down the hall—doing her nails at recess, gossiping in the lounge—or zoomed in on his/her favorite pet student, while your child hangs from the chandeliers.  Your child’s everything will fall through the cracks.  It is the difference between having a tender shepherd over your child (or a careful tutor) vs. committing him/her to a prison warden who just paces back and forth outside his/her door, tossing in some scraps now and then.  No teacher will ever be as devoted to your children as you will be.  If you think otherwise, it is a delusion.

For much more along these lines, read the Kindle book, regular e-book or printed booklet of Homeschool Advantages: Spiritual, social and academic.

Wrestling with obedience issues with your children?

Tuesday, 08. April 2014 by Renee Ellison

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How did the Messiah, who was perfect, “LEARN” obedience by the things which He suffered? Answer: His Father kept throwing at Him a new and different occasion for obedience—a new “obedience challenge,” so to speak. It was as if the Father said to His Son, “Okay, You passed the last test, now let’s try THIS challenge!” Yeshua’s suffering came in the arena of the COST to Him of submitting His will, but He never stayed in the “valley of decision” about WHETHER or not TO submit His will. His real suffering was all tied to the requirement of even further self-denial. In addition to stripping Himself of divinity—and the environment of divinity (ivory palaces, perfect fellowship, and such)—for a time, He had to further strip Himself of self-will while HERE. He was not allowed to make Himself more comfortable, or to carve out a little peaceful nook and cranny once in a while, while here. Nope, at every turn the spoon of dessert was dashed out of His hand.

Because submitting our will to the will of another isn’t fun, we all DO suffer a bit each and every time we do it. We die to self. But that process, unlike anything else in all of life, eventually thoroughly matures us, fits us for heaven, and for Him.

So, what do we learn about obedience from scripture to teach to our children? We learn that true obedience is marked by two things: 1) it must be INSTANT, and 2) it must be CHEERFUL. Delayed obedience is disobedience. And grumpy obedience is clearly disobedience, as well. Let’s test our hypothesis. If Noah had delayed his obedience even a week, he would have been lost in the flood. If he had been grumpy in some way, perhaps protesting that gopher wood was too hard to obtain and that he’d rather build with aspen wood, he would have, again, sunk.

We must make clear to our children that God ALWAYS chooses the man or woman who has ALREADY demonstrated obedience in prior, LESSER challenges, to do great spiritual feats, never the person who is in the HABIT of disobedience. So to obey is to groom themselves to be used of God in the world, to exert a great and lasting influence.

Bait your children with the very real glories that shall be theirs both in this lifetime and the next when they begin to not only obey, but view obedience as a godly challenge. “Go ahead toss me another one; let’s see if I can do it!” Teach your children the quiet joy of learning to run out to meet these tests with a willing heart, rather than to seek to avoid them with a stubborn heart. Pre-set their POSTURE in relation to all godly obediences, to do what they OUGHT to do, instead of what they would RATHER do. It is the same challenge for us as adults. It is the ultimate challenge in the universe. A man’s responsiveness to God’s will IS the measure of the man.

Proverbs 13:15 nails it: “The way of the transgressor is HARD.” One sin leads to another, and to ever-increasing fallout. Stubbornness can set in like concrete; we never know at what hour we may cross that line forever. We CAN be broken beyond fixing. Proverbs 29:1 warns that “A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.” Conversely, the way of the obedient is BLESSED—both in this lifetime and in the one to come.

Say these phrases frequently in your home?...and perhaps mount them on the wall?
Obedience brings blessing.
Disobedience ALWAYS brings sadness.

Is your child living in unreality?

Wednesday, 12. March 2014 by Renee Ellison

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We are living in a culture that is heavily inundated with altered realities.  Its primary clientele?  Children.  We have our children so “doctored-up” with alternative realities through fantasy, gaming, movies, books and toys that they are hard pressed to know which reality they actually live in.  And even worse, they have no idea which reality is spiritually true.

These days, when you attempt to read a Bible story to someone else’s child, if you ask who the angel is who is warning Joseph to take the baby and flee to Egypt, the child is apt to exclaim: “a fairy!”  When asked how Lazarus was raised from the dead, young children have answered, “magic!”  This is serious disorientation, and we are reaping a whirlwind of future trouble by allowing it, encouraging it, “buying it” (someone out there is buying it or script writers wouldn’t be increasingly producing it; how many Christians are among them?) and babysitting with it by the hour.  This is misguided parenting and intellectual fraud; it is mental abandonment at its zenith.  Do we care as much about what goes into the minds of our children as we do about what’s on their plates for dinner?

The God-head (Christ/the Heavenly Father/the Holy Spirit) does live in another realm—in the only legitimate larger reality—encircling this earthly one.  Sometimes God directly invades this three-dimensional realm of earth in a way that we can see, but at all times He influences and is invested in this reality—far beyond what we understand or know.  His sovereignty enfolds all of this reality.  But there is an enemy, close on His heels, sabotaging that one ultimate reality with invitations to other realities that are filled with tinsel, glitter, falsehood, addiction, titillation, skewed versions of “virtue” (where the bad guy wins), idolatry, witchcraft, rewritten fundamentals (such as, who is a man and who is a woman, and who is a human and who is an animal—and who is something else altogether?), grotesqueness and violence.  In the end, these altered realities deliver nothing but delusion.  They do not “outfit” a person to handle real life problems and real relationships in the only real world there is.  Devastatingly, horrifically, sadly, one direction this unreality is leading the vast preponderence (80%) of young men (according to a study cited by Kevin Swanson on his Generations with Vision program) is into the grip of pornography.

Your children do not need more time being entertained. Put the brakes on.  Instead, their valuable discretionary hours can be far better spent learning life-skills, gaining relational prowess, learning a large conceptual alphabet of how the real world works (i.e. an education—about real subjects like physics, chemistry and biology), enlarging entrepreneurial skills, and maturing an ability to know and deeply worship the One who made them and redeemed them.  How many children today know how to pray…rather than to wish upon a star?  How many know the Bible as thoroughly as their TV set or their electronic communication devices?  Our children might be at our dinner tables these days, but mentally many of them are largely in another realm.  This is frightening.  Wake up.  Say no.  Just one walk through the toy department at Wal-Mart could be enough to make a mother go outside and throw up—if she really comprehends what is there.

The three keys to outstanding parenting (part 3)

Tuesday, 18. February 2014 by Renee Ellison

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Third: Dangle the carrot of inspiration

In part one we talked about how good parenting hovers over beginnings; part two was about teaching self-denial.  The final part of this series is that the outstanding parent stays out ahead of the child, dangling the carrot of inspiration.

You know where you are headed with your child.  The child does not. He is clueless.  All he feels is the immediate cantankerous day in front of him and all the spots where he is required to do something his flesh isn’t interested in.  Therefore, you must dangle stories of wonderful outcomes in front of him.  Use missionary and historical biographies to do it.

Get the horizon bigger—the landscape bigger—the awareness bigger.  Go big in exposures to excellent personages, excellent accomplishments, and heroic endeavors.  You are raising royal seed.  Get the reading material big enough, and turn off the media until fourth grade.  NO TV; NO movies.  NONE.  (To expose your children to alternate fantasy realities in preference for time spent with the real-deal will saturate your child with false expectations and untruths forever.  It is no gift.)

Through thick and thin overlay this input with inspiration from the Bible by training a thorough knowledge of it.  How you go about this part is critical.  If you drone on with the King James Version and long adult devotions with your four-year-old, you’ll kill his interest, sure as shootin’.  Instead, create emotional bonding with the Bible by carefully making it his favorite book.  How?  Begin reading easy versions of the Bible (with gorgeous large real-life old paintings, not modern impressionistic pictures).  By reading him the Bible you’ll whet his appetite for something besides a life that is only interested in “what’s for dinner.”

Progressively and incrementally, work up to more difficult versions—but keep your Bible versions as picture versions for about the first ten years.  For the first several years, read the Bible to him, over and over, cover to cover, to show him a life larger than his own.

Start and end with the Bible. There is a reason it is the highest selling book of all time and will still be standing when heaven and earth roll up like a scroll.  We’ll wake up to the Bible and its author.  Careful.  Tiptoe through the tulips.  Using progressively more challenging versions, start by reading at first in your own happy voice, with lots of whistling, whew’s and wows over a split second deliverance or a miracle or two, while tucked closely under your wing will do it.

Vigilantly do this.  We live in a post-Christian era.  What you take for granted in your life of faith, is no more.  The entire culture was raised into the late 1800s on the Bible and the solid values of the McGuffey readers—but no more.  The vast majority of people on the streets today are unfamiliar with even basic key Bible figures and stories.  Clueless.  If we’re not careful here, we’ll rob our children of their God-given hub—their ultimate core.  They’ll have nothing with which to tackle all the vicissitudes of life.  We will have taught them the how of life but forgotten the why.  Might as well stay in bed.  No, you get up and tend to this matter.

Blessings on the use then of these three tools in all your parenting. In review, they are:
1…Hover over beginnings,
2…train your progeny in self-denial,
3…and ever inspire them—stay out in front of them with an ever bigger picture of what life is really all about and what they are growing towards.

Resources note/ ideal beginning versions of the Bible:
Proceed in the following order and you’ll create lovers of the Bible:

    • The full Bible (preferably, in large print) (recommended version New American Standard)

The three keys to outstanding parenting (part 2)

Tuesday, 11. February 2014 by Renee Ellison

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Part Two: Teach the process of self-denial

In part one we talked about how good parenting hovers over beginnings.  Today we talk about teaching self-denial.

Teaching your child to deny himself starts with giving him an appetite for Almighty God over an engulfing appetite for self.  This is a tall job for a parent.  Nevertheless, we are given it.  The supreme achievement of the mature adult soul is that it finally learns to have a yielded will to God over all issues.  (It is, in fact, the last lesson we learn conclusively.  God alone tells us when the book closes upon our lives.  We cannot pick the exact hour of our birth, nor of our death.  We are not allowed to pick it—if we are obedient.)  We learn that the soul has a Maker and that we were born into a context.  Amen.  So be it.  The final realization of the refined soul is that God does the best job of “us.”  If we, ourselves, were given prescriptive powers over the parameters of our lives, we would mangle it badly.  Should I be born in Ohio or Tasmania?  Who would want the job?  The place of wonderful repose is to cultivate a sweet contentment with our lot and to tend to our immediate duties with love and charity.  Therein lies our joy.

Thus, the job of parenting is to patiently work at subduing the furtive, insistent, immature lustful will of the child whenever it manifests itself—to prepare the child for ultimately doing this with God.  Sometimes it is our duty to be a brick wall against the child’s unseasoned and unruly impulses.  We are to teach the process—what it feels like to give up, to let go of the clenched fist and teeth and to occupy oneself differently—over and over and over again.  To help surrender the will (of the child) to the benevolent will of another (the parent) is our supreme coaching job.  The flesh squirms terribly under this training—yet loves its end results.

We love ourselves when we are full of self-denial, self-sacrifice and self-giving, but we despise ourselves when our vocabularies have been reduced to I, me, and mine.  It has been said that hell is full of the all absorbing disgruntlement of self.

The wisely administered combination of parental love and firmness delivers a child from his own worst nightmare.  He just doesn’t know it yet. So, cross your child’s will.  Get a supple will living in your child—that is happy and content with all outcomes.  Then lavish the child with surprise luxuries—on your terms and on your turf.  The child will get it—that this is real love.  Isn’t that the way of God with us?  His ultimate yeses are often cloaked in His benevolent nos.  We are for the child.  The child’s best self was never in our doubt, as a parent.  Get it done.  Go after that ugly self-will with a “broom” that will have a clean house.  Be vigilant.  Your child’s happiness depends upon it—both now and in the future.

Next: the last post in this three-part series is the carrot of inspiration.

The three keys to outstanding parenting (part 1)

Saturday, 08. February 2014 by Renee Ellison

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In this three-part series we will look at three keys to great parenting:
To hover over beginnings.
To teach the process of self-denial.
To dangle the carrot of inspiration.

Part One: Hover over beginnings
All of life has velocity.  Therefore, the direction of the beginnings is profound in its implications. Homeschoolers all have a vague notion of this, or we wouldn’t be homeschooling.  We’ve essentially said to ourselves: “I’m not going to farm out the raising of my child during his most formative years to a complete stranger (or a parade of strangers through the years) of just any ideological and moral persuasion.  I’m simply not going to do it.”  The various “creatures/ teachers” who could wind up teaching our children, if we just happen to be in their path, especially in these days, can be downright frightening.  As a principal I fired a few of these “wolves in sheep’s clothing”—and that was a few decades ago (before cultural norms had sunk as far as they have today).  If you knew their private lives you’d have been stunned.

Even when we have our children at home, however, there are mountains of details of significant importance that we can miss.  Our success lies in our waking up!  We shan’t be asleep at the wheel.  A diligent hovering over all beginnings, as many of them as we can get to, just as thoroughly as we can, gives us at least a fighting chance of impacting our progeny.  Olympic coaches know this “in spades,” as do the parents of concert pianists—they both start their trainings in utero, if at all possible!

From the first tangle of shoelaces, to the first attempt at teeth-brushing, to the first penmanship strokes, to the first bad movie we turn off, to the proper handling of their first lie (from our little darlings?), we plot a lifetime trajectory.  Be there—up close and personal.  If, for example, we resolutely land on the first lie and make the “fur fly” and “nail it” with a gripping story or two of a fellow in a penitentiary who was once a child their age, we significantly diffuse the chance of there ever being a second one.  Beginnings are everything in embryo. So, be deliberate.  Be causative, not casual.  Outstanding parenting does not despise the day of small beginnings, it grips the day of small beginnings—eyes peeled in every corner, ever focused on keeping the end in view.

Self-denial is the next post in this three-part series.

Why should my child play piano?

Sunday, 02. February 2014 by Renee Ellison

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Have you wondered why teachers put such an emphasis on young children learning to play the piano?  It’s because it works both hemispheres of the brain and grows mental muscle for attacking all mental disciplines in all subjects.  Piano-playing does this superbly well by involving both hands in different tasks.  I make it a “have-to” subject, just like math, for all of the elementary school years, just until the basics are conquered.  Sure, not every child will become a musician, just like every child won’t become a mathematician—but all children benefit from the fundamental training just the same.  The same goes for speed-typing.  It grows the brain via a tactile grasp of spelling—thus it becomes a positive double-whammy. smile

To conquer these two keyboarding skills without leaving your home, order Quick Piano and Zoom-Type.

Children: A bother or an investment?

Friday, 03. January 2014 by Renee Ellison

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Children who are abandoned, constantly farmed out, delayed, put-off, down the list for years on end, sloppily educated, unskilled, chronically babysat by the screen, etc., become less and less likable, and more and more of a discipline problem. Let us be very clear: it is simply counter-productive to parents themselves, for parents to abandon their children, either incrementally or wholesale.

Conversely, children who are invested in, carefully groomed to be “royalty” of every sort, become more and more likable, irresistible, legendary. Children delighted in and hovered over become less and less of a discipline problem. The potential irritation surrounding them goes away poof….gone…because they are launched with marvelous social skills, strong goals and vision and live with meaning and purpose, i.e. they aren’t just hanging out somewhere in the universe wondering what color to die their hair or where to put their next tattoo…loitering.  Instead, they are influencing the universe. They live contented lives as settled well-defined people—little repositories of the reflection of the glory of God.

Parenting is a hundred yard dash across time.  No parent who clearly understands the eventual outcomes wants to pass through this chapter forever preoccupied. Parents won’t like their children if they don’t train them. Parents love their children if they train them and attend to them vigilantly as they develop. Good parenting is like becoming a gleeful miser who gets to finger his gold after he has collected it. You’ll enjoy your investment more smile, not just tomorrow, but for the rest of your life.

Never be angry with your child over academics

Friday, 27. December 2013 by Renee Ellison

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Academic training
Brain development is a scary, fragile process.  If you, as a parent, load it up with disapproval, anger or impatience, your child’s brain may well misfire or shut down.  At that point, you’ll have to start all over again.  Academic pressure and stress will have dive-bombed any mental advancement you were hoping to gain.  Negative emotions over academics can raise an impenetrable wall of resistance in your child that can seem like a concrete blockade that is never coming down.  If that sets up hard, you’ll be looking at weeks and months of patiently and artfully diffusing it.  Habitual patience makes your job just that much easier.  If your child’s lower lip is quivering over academics, back off.

All intellectual growth must take place incrementally.  It should never be overwhelming.  (To gain a sense of what your child feels like when he is in over his head with some new concept, you can go stare at a screen of Japanese letters for a moment.)  Get the task bite-sized enough—a slight stretch—and you’ll make steady progress with no resistance.  If there are tears, you are pushing too hard.

You’ll get the fastest results if you’ll surround academic endeavor with your own cheerful attentiveness.  Studies have shown that when classroom teachers leave the room during an academic session where the students are concentrating hard, the students’ focus goes all to ribbons.  Just your presence helps the child stay on task.  Internal discipline is always learned by many, many experiences of external discipline, i.e. a tutor directing the student’s mind through the task, inch by inch.

If a teacher steadily walks up and down the rows of student desks, the academics prosper profoundly.  Likewise, if you as the parent will simple sit next to your child, pointing to each new thing, this will focus the child in an incredible way.  Parental focus on the child and on the task is the single most effective tool in your toolbox.  If when the child frequently looks up at you for encouragement, he (1) finds you there and (2) finds that his flailing, beginning efforts are met with your warm, loving eyes, you will have success.

This is why tax hikes for public education are worthless.  The more money we throw at public education, the worse the test scores become.  It’s an inverse graph.  Why?  The public sector focuses on academic trinkets, and more glitzy curriculum and equipment—while retaining indifferent, preoccupied teachers, or too many students per teacher.  We know from history, however, that the Pilgrims’ children (with virtually no tax money allocated for schools) were taught in bare one-room school houses, but got twice the education out of their children as a modern child does—because the teacher was “on it”, with one book.  The Puritan teachers gave meticulous attentiveness to the process.  If you hover over every stroke of the pen in teaching beginning handwriting, or shoe-tying, or teeth-brushing, or math flashcards, you’ll embed the right way to do it in your child for a lifetime. It is all about hovering over beginnings.  Don’t turn your back too soon.

If you observe academic stress in your child, do one or more of the following things to remove that emotional resistance:
1. Shorten the task; less is sometimes more.
2. Splinter the task into even more bite-sized pieces.
3. Go wide when you can’t go forward; enrich and stabilize what is already known.
4. Leave it alone and try it again in a few days.
5. Change your teaching approach—try another angle.
6. Go back to the concrete level and proceed slowly to the abstract.
7. Teach it at a different time of day—right before bedtime, perhaps.
8. Teach it in short spurts, with spaced repetition.

See our 12 Amazing Brain Triggers e-book for much more about these and other strategies for the easiest ways to get information into the brain of your child.

Character training
Conversely, make no mistake, moral training requires you to exercise tight, firm, unflinching resolve.  When a child is misbehaving, the parent must level some sort of consequence.  The most effective consequence is to devise something that is seen by the child as against his own self interest.  Do not match energies with his fits.  Remove yourself from the fray.  Pit him against himself, not allowing him to think he is irritating you at all.  Pick some consequence that costs him emotionally and you’ll turn that behavior around, prontito.

Most parents have this all backwards.  They are rough on the academics, but the child is swimming in self-indulgence in his character.  Teach the child self-denial, putting his own will under for the good of another, not once, but over and over throughout the day.  Then if you want to make over your child with your own gushing love impulses (what parent can resist) go ahead at other moments, when you are not engaged in a toe-to-toe conflict of wills.  You can endlessly initiate love activities, but make sure that you have not descended into a “respond-a-thon” with your child.  If you are giving in to your child, contrary to your first commands and wishes and hunches for what is best in the situation, you are creating a future problem for yourself.  Nip it in the bud now while he is young, and you can put your feet up, eat bonbons and take a snooze later.  If you don’t, you may be battling that immature, indulgent will all the way to your grave.