Amish Cook: Raising Well-behaved Children

Some years ago I did posts on Amish children & spanking, as well as discipline in general (including in Amish schools), both of which, not unexpectedly, got a lot of comments. It’s a topic which elicits strong responses and I doubt much has changed since then.

In her recent column, Amish Cook Gloria Yoder takes up the question of children’s behavior. She shares some ideas in the context of caring for her own children, including her foster children. But Gloria doesn’t discuss physical discipline here, which would be the common approach for many if not most Amish parents. An excerpt:

The question has been popping up again, “Why are Amish children so well behaved?” Smiling to myself, it becomes pretty apparent that those posing the question have not seen all I’ve seen in this house.

Since those first months we said “yes” to foster care, we’ve tried almost everything under the sun as we spent day and night with these dearest little ones. You know how it is, you love a child so fiercely, yet you get completely rung out at times.

Four years have passed since then. We are still learning. I admit, I’m glad we’re not asked to do the last four years again, but I wish I could redo them somehow. If there were another opportunity, I’d be more observant of what’s causing negative behavior, much more than the behavior itself.

For instance, a child who cries over everything may be stubborn, but then perhaps he’s experiencing deep loneliness despite the parents’ best efforts to love, love, love. There is no child out there that wants to be bad just for fun; if that is the case (we’ve been there), there is a void they’re desperately trying to fill. As needs are supplied for, surface issues have a way of melting like I never imagined they could. Yes, this is often a “two-step forward, one step back” procedure. We are constantly learning and crying out to God for wisdom. He is the only source of complete wisdom.

I’m not sure how many Amish would employ Gloria’s approach, but it was interesting to see. Gloria belongs to a New Order church, which may tend to be more open to alternative ways of promoting good behavior. What she describes appears to me to be more like modern non-Amish trends in child discipline than the traditional mode of “spare the rod, spoil the child.” Read the column in full here, which also includes a recipe for “Grandma’s Best Amish Thanksgiving Stuffing”.

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    1. Rozy

      Parental Paydays

      You don’t have to be Amish to raise well-behaved children. It takes consistency and daily practice, and a whole lot of patience, not to mention energy. You know you’re experiencing success when you take your five young children out to dinner and an older couple pays for your dinner because your children were so well-mannered. That’s what my husband and I called parental paydays. Or at an orchestral concert when the woman behind us said she’d never seen such well-behaved children.
      At home they could be little snots, but they knew how to behave in public because we practiced manners at every meal, and had home “concerts” to practice listening quietly; we practiced meeting people and being introduced, shaking hands, looking someone in the eyes, saying please and thank-you. Oh lots and lots of practice.
      I could go on, but the point is that like anything else worthwhile in life it takes practice and consistency.

    2. C.J.

      Blessings to you, Rozy!
      Time invested in teaching your children, is time well spent. So many kids today, it seems, spend their days in daycare, if not in school. Not sure why people have children if they don’t want to spend time with them? Children do take a lot of time and attention if they are to become responsible adults. In society today, everyone is so busy with jobs or other commitments, that when some parents are home for the weekend, they give the kids money and send them off to
      the shopping mall or movie theatres, etc.
      My hat is off to those parents who truly care and are willing to invest their time into their children. Most usually you can tell who they are,…and I have NEVER heard one Dad or Mom say they wish they hadn’t spent so much time with their children as they were growing up! It is usually the opposite…kids do grow up quickly even though it may not seem that way at the time! God Bless all parents trying their best~