Ask Izzy – Part 1

ask izzy

WOW! Last night was awesome – huge help from Tara C! Let’s do it again tonight with Lindsey.

Tonight will go very much the same with my precious friend Lindsey aka Izzy (Ella and Katie’s Emma Kate named her that).

If you don’t know the background on Izzy – start here. She’s passionate about growing kids and families and I go to her OFTEN for counsel on how to do just that in our home.

So, we are trying this out once a month and we shall see how it goes.



She will answer a few hot topics/questions in this blog post.


You will have a chance to CHAT with her via the comments section below and Facebook TONIGHT from 8-10 pm EST. Ask her questions or get suggestions for a certain challenge at home.

If you want to hear MORE on a certain topic – let her know and she can blog about that on another date.

Our desire is always to empower moms and change little lives – this is just one way to do this. Her way isn’t the only way – but I know this… she deeply loves the Lord. She loves families and yearns for families to thrive.

The ground rules are the same.

  • Do not use this area as a place to debate tactics or get heated.
  • Try to keep comments and questions as brief as possible.
  • Remember she doesn’t know your entire family history and children personally.
  • Unfortunately, she cannot continue the conversation offline via email unless you hire her.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Really – use the comment space on this blog post or Facebook to ask questions! Go for it!
  • If you aren’t asking, but you have a tip that could help others – go for it. We are here to help each other – respectfully and kindly dive in.



How do I decrease whining and complaining?

When children whine and complain they are doing it to get attention.  So, if you want to decrease the whining and complaining, don’t reward the behaviors with your attention.

When a child whines to me, my go to response is to look at them with a somewhat quizzical face followed by the phrase, “I’m so sorry, but I don’t understand whining.  I sure hope you’re able to talk to me in a different way so I’ll know what you are saying because I would love to help you!”

Complaining is a yucky way of coping that many adults have not yet grown out of.

For that reason, it’s even more important to help your children eliminate it when they are young.  Just like adults, kids complain in order to vent.  While we all need a way to vent, complaining is not a good way.  When you see your child complaining, do your best to redirect them.  Don’t jump on the complain train with them.  I tell the kids I baby-sit that complaining won’t help the situation…so I’ve got to make sure that I don’t help a situation they are complaining about.


For instance, just last week I reminded an elementary aged girl that after dinner she would need to take a bath.  She immediately began to complain that she didn’t want to take a bath.  She continued to make complaining comments all through dinner that she didn’t want to take a bath.  I could have said, “Ok, Olivia.  I hear you.  You don’t have to take a bath.”  But that would have shown Olivia that complaining could help her situation.  Instead, I looked at Olivia and said, I’m sorry that you don’t want to take a bath, but just because you complain doesn’t mean that I’m going to change my mind.”

With both whining and complaining, the old adage is true…what comes in, must go out.

If you have been consistent to ignore the negative behaviors and you still aren’t getting a positive response, take a step back and look at your children’s world.  What are they watching?  Do the characters on the shows and movies they watch whine and complain?  You may have to really investigate this because even “good shows” have complainers.  Personally, I have had to eliminate Caillou because he whines way too much for me!  Who do your children play with?  Whiners?  Complainers?  It may be time to take a little break.  What about you?  While I don’t see many adults whining, I certainly see a lot of complaining.  Your children are watching you and how you react, so be careful that you are setting a good example.


Remember, the key to eliminating a behavior is to ignore it, and the key to encourage a behavior is to reward it. Over time, ignoring the whining and complaining and rewarding them when they get it right will help to decrease the whining and complaining in your children.  i promise it will.  I have seen it first hand time and time again.


A couple of years ago, I was regularly baby-sitting for a precious girl named Lauren, but she definitely had been bitten hard by the complaining bug.  I was diligent and consistent and did not allow her complaining to help her situation.  A little over two months passed and I began to notice that her complaining was non existent, and knew that was something to be celebrated.  The next time I was taking care of her, we made a special trip to the ice cream store.  After getting ice cream, I proceeded to tell her how proud of her I was for not complaining like she used to.  Without missing a beat, she responded,

Yeah, that wasn’t really working so I’m not doing it anymore.


Inside I laughed, but she was serious, and she was right.  I didn’t reward the behavior and over time she realized that  so she stopped. So if you have a whiner or complainer at home.  Don’t fret.  You aren’t alone.  Just be consistent.  I have a feeling if you do you’ll have a story very similar to my Lauren story to share.


What makes a kid thrive at home?

Love and structure.  I could write a whole post about it…so maybe I’ll do that next month.  But as a teaser, I will tell you that kids thrive on love and structure.  Even the free spirited ones.  There is nothing wrong with setting boundaries…quite the contrary, the boundaries are a way to show love.


How can we help babysitters thrive in our homes?

Give them authority and support the authority that you give them.  When the baby-sitter walks in the door, your children need to know that the baby-sitter is in charge.    Then, when you return home, if your child tells you that the baby-sitter was mean, ask them for an example.  Was the baby-sitter mean because they made them take a bath…or made them do their homework?  If that’s the case, don’t take away authority by saying “Oh, I’m sorry they made you do that…you don’t have to do that next time.”   That takes away the authority you gave when you left.

Instead, the response should be, “You know, those were things that you needed to do, and remember the rule, when Izzy is here, she is in charge.”  Clearly, if the baby-sitter is disobeying your rules or putting your children in danger, that’s a different story altogether, but you should discuss that with the baby-sitter.


ask izzy

YOUR TURN! Fire away. Today, August 6 from 8-10 pm EST.

Right here in the comments or on Lil Light O’ Mine Facebook – look for Ask Izzy post.

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  1. I’m going to pretend like you aren’t sitting beside me right now.. 🙂

    FIRST QUESTION I have… talk to me about paying babysitters. What’s the going rate these days? for 1 kid? 2 kids? etc. For someone quite professional like yourself vs high school kid?

    1. Rate. The question everyone loves to hate. I think it really depends on a variety of things–age of children, where you are located, age of the baby-sitter. I am typically paid somewhere around $12-$15/hour. The only other thing to keep in mind is if they will be doing a lot of driving for you or purchasing things for your kids. You don’t have to pay gas money every time, but every now and then shows that you are aware and appreciative.

      1. This makes me think I need a VISA gift card for some of my most trustworthy sitters – and they can just use as needed with meals, after school snacks or outings. Load with a certain amount for a season when I know they will be assisting a bunch. Also, one of my other FAVORITE sitters from Atlanta wrote this book with her mom and it has some tremendous insights in there – and gave me a much better perspective for the babysitters in my life. I am often late – not thinking they might have plans. I often cancel when they were counting on the money. So glad she called my attention to their world and their point of view.

  2. MORE ON BABYSITTING EXPECTATIONS… have i been spoiled by you – or what do you think is reasonable for sitters to do while you are gone – in regards to the house – leave the same – or at least not WORSE. how do we gently ask those to help clean up a bit. you are so good about MAKING MY DAY when i come in from a date or from a trip and i’m ahead of the game because you have been here. i know this – i’m training my girls to be thoughtful babysitters.

    1. Personally, I think the best baby-sitters will know to help out. It may sound weird, but it’s really not in my makeup to leave a house that is messier than it was when I arrived. I mean, what else am I supposed to do after I’ve put your children to bed?

      ROCK ON for teaching your girls at an early age. I, too, was trained by my mother…and the skills have been reinforced as I baby-sit and the parents come home and are appreciative. If your baby-sitter wasn’t trained though, here are two easy ways to “give them a hint”…

      –If you have children that are old enough to help out, after the baby-sitter arrives, and before you leave, mention to all of them to remember to clean up as they take out, clean the kitchen, etc. You can address the instruction to the child as well as the baby-sitter.

      –If your children are too young to clean, you can hint by saying something such as, “sorry the sink is overflowing with dishes…it’s been a crazy day, I haven’t even had a chance to unload the dishwasher.”

      Hopefully those little lines will help them to recognize things that need to be done. The only other key is when you get home, if things are clean…make sure you let them know how appreciative you are for all they did!


    1. What’s the going rate for 4 kids for babysitting cost/hour? What’s a daily/overnight rate if it was 3 days of babysitting?
    2. What if we brought a sitter on vacation? What’s expected payment wise beyond airfare/food/lodging?
    3. How can you clone yourself and move to NC? Kidding. Kinda. but know it’s hard to find people who love kids and have such a long term perspective on investing in kids ! Way to go!

    1. 1–It really depends…but I’m paid $15/hour when I take care of 4 kids and I don’t think for a minute that it’s low. In fact, I love more kids because they help out! My overnight rate is typically $50-$75/night. For three full days/nights of baby-sitting $400-$500.

      2–I have gone on vacation with multiple different families and all have done it differently. One paid for all of my expenses plus any time when I was exclusively baby-sitting. The other paid for all of my expenses plus $100/day. In all honesty, the airfare/food/lodging was more than enough payment in my book, so the added money that I got at the end was a fun surprise.

      3–You’re too kind. Maybe I’ll be in NC one day…I’d do it much quicker if it wasn’t in the Eastern time zone! I don’t have kids of my own, but I imagine if I ever do the first place I will look for baby-sitters is at a church or local college. Seek out ones that focus on your children. Then when you find one, pout into them like you want them to pour into your children. Over the years I have baby-sat for many different families and without a doubt the ones that I am the closest to are the ones that made me feel part of their family.

  4. Hi Lindsey! How do you deal with kids who get loud and crazy as soon as a babysitter walks in the door…kind of like nervous excitement crazy. My kids get so excited and get hyper and all talk at once and want to show the babysitter everything the minute she is in the door. I talk to them beforehand about being calm and not shouting things to tell her, but it never seems to work. Any tricks for that?

    1. Well the good thing is they are excited. That probably means that you have been reminding them throughout the day that a baby-sitter will be coming later. Personally, I’d much rather have excited kids than crying ones. 🙂

      I also think you’re doing the right thing to remind them that they need to be calm when the sitter gets there. I’d also remind them that the more calm they are, the quicker you will be able to pass along any information to the baby-sitter so you can leave. It may even be a good idea for your children to go to a different room while you walk through things. The only other suggestion I have is for you to make sure that you are getting the baby-sitter to come early enough so you’ll be able to explain whatever you need to explain to them without being rushed.

  5. I have a question regarding sibling rivalry/constant arguing. We are blessed with 3 kiddos, ages 10, 9, and almost 5. The older 2 are boys and our youngest is a girl. Our middle boy is terrible to his younger sister. In his eyes, she can do nothing right. Everything she does “annoys” him. As a result, she has started giving back some of the mean comments and intolerance to him. I feel like I have tried everything. It is breaking my heart to have these two constantly at odds.

    1. Tara C had some great ideas for sibling arguing when she was doing the Q&A last night, so make sure you check that out:

      In addition, I would just reiterate that sibling rivalry/arguing is totally normal. However, just because it’s normal doesn’t meant that it is something that should be encouraged. The age difference of your middle son and your youngest..and the fact that he is the middle add to the dissension as well. I can say that I because I’m the middle of 3 girls…one 4 years older, the other 4 years younger. 🙂

      Look for little ways to remind your son and daughter that they are on the same team. Do your best not to favor one over the other. No, they won’t get along all the time, and yes, sometimes they will annoy each other, but remember it is a good thing for their worlds to intersect. If you do too much to separate them now, as they get older they will likely continue living those separate lives and the sibling bonds won’t be as strong.

    2. Hey Amanda. You didn’t ask me… but I’ll chime in too. Definitely read over Tara’s stuff but my girls fight too often. Although I don’t have the boy/girl dynamic – it sure is frustrating. One thing we do is take it away – if they are fighting over it, it’s gone. The toy, the iPad, whatever. My other friend with four often asks her ‘Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true?’ and I love those questions to navigate siblings. If it’s no – probably need to be said. Also, I wonder if his dad could talk to him about the way a brother protects and honors his sister. And start finding ways for him to be sneaky about the way he loves her. Find small ways to show he is a loving brother. And reward him for it. Show you are noticing his extra effort. Lastly, try giving him some times that are ‘sister free’ and then times he needs to find a way to include her. Let him have that all-boy, no little sister time but then also learn she’s a part of the fam and actually fun. Family game? Older boy doing better? reward him for his great example?

  6. Courtney – thanks for doing this! I have a question regarding focus and constant distraction. My almost 4 year old cannot keep on a simple task. If his original aim is to throw a wrapper in the trash he will be distracted by at least 4 things on his way to that task. Let’s not even talk about the half hour it takes getting dressed or eating. I feel like I’m constantly badgering him to hurry up and stay focused (and if hate rushing him) and I know a lot of it is just his age but is there something I can do to help him complete a task free from a million little detours? I have jam packed days, just like most Moms, and I hate the idea of passing that stress and always being in a rush down to my kids.

    1. It sounds like you are doing a lot of correct things. As children get older they are able to string together and remember multiple simple tasks, but right now your focus is to get your son to do one thing. In this case, it doesn’t sound like he’s being defiant, more just distracted and not fully listening. When you ask him to do something–throw a wrapper in the trash–as soon as you ask, get him to repeat back to you what he is supposed to do. Once he repeats the instructions, have him act. If he is successful, praise him. If he isn’t, ask him to repeat the task you asked him to do and try again. In the meantime, keep making sure you build in extra time for your son so you won’t feel like you’re having to rush him along. Overtime, as he completes tasks immediately, you’ll be able to decrease the time you allow.

      1. love this linds. i remember hearing david thomas speak (author I LOVE – writes about boys often) and he imitated a mom telling boys what to do – and it basically sounds like wahwahwahwahwahwah… they just can’t hear our 12-step instructions. so funny. so true. look up his book jennifer, he’ll give more specifics per age group. suggests really simple commands – even for our husbands. 🙂 “trash. here. right away.”

        1. Love it! Thank you both. I have felt like I was losing my mind over the last few weeks. I’ll give both of your recommendations a try.

  7. of all the awesome moms you meet – talk to me. how many beat their kids up. like get up before them and get their minds/souls together before the little animals get cranked up. i know it’s what i need to do /should do – so i should just do it. are most on it? half? 🙂 that’s a terrible questions but kinda want the answer.

    1. Beat their kids up physically…none 🙂 Wake up before their children…quite a few…and the ones that don’t should. 🙂 I can tell a vast difference in families that have parents who are up and moving before their children. Just do it, Court. Not only will it help you to get yourself prepared and in the right frame of mind before your day starts, it will help your children as they get older see that starting your day with time in prayer to prepare yourself is a priority for you…and we all know that one of the best teachers is our actions. 🙂

    2. Days I’m up before the kids and spend time in devotion before they wake up go really well. I am more prepared and ready to face the day. Because I am in the right mindset on those days, I am not easily bothered and I am well ahead of the curve. If I get to fix breakfast before they’re up, it’s even better. Sadly it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. I’d like to train myself to be up an hour before them every morning.

  8. I’m so bummed I missed this!!! I’d love to know your thoughts on the attached baby stage. My #3 is 8 months old and though I’ve had babysitters since she was tiny, she is now very attached to mommy. And when I say very…I mean VERY. She cries and cries and cries.My first two didn’t struggle like this. Any tips??

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