Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp is an outstanding book--Carrie's most recent post gave a great segment of it on communication with children.
Another reminder in that book that I've been mulling over with a friend of mine recently is the difference between childish behavior and defiant behavior. When children are young (i.e. toddler/preschooler), it's very important to discern whether or not your child is being childish (accidentally knocked the milk over when he reaches for his fork) v. defiant (knocking the milk over intentionally after you told him not to touch it). Sometimes it's a hard line to draw, but more often than not, I think we react to simple childishness in ways that are more appropriate for defiance/disobedience. The communication steps Carrie referred to in her post are great for this: would the time when your child knocks the milk over be a time for censure? (for defiance) for warning or instruction (for childish behavior)? for encouragement (accident and the child is upset)?
I've been thinking through my New Year's Goals (a whole post coming on why I make goals instead of resolutions!), and one of them is to slow down so I can really train my children well. Part of that slowing down means I will take the time to think through my children's behavior more instead of simply reacting the same way all the time.
Butterfudge Cooky Pie
4 months ago