Again, as with all things, I don't agree with EVERYTHING this site/book/mom says. However... I agree with most of it!! The idea came to them from their friends if I remember right. You know those round tomato cages used to stake tomato plants?
Well, if you put those around/over your tomato plants when they are young it's easy and helps them to grow straight and strong and tall. If you wait until they're tipping over you damage the plant. Putting the cage on then, pulls off fruit and often it's too late and the plant doesn't make it. So they told them, if you train your child and guide them, keep them close, they grow straight and strong and tall. If you wait until they are out of control and try to guide them, it's very difficult and sometimes too late.
What it means to "tomato stake" your children is basically to keep them close. I mean RIGHT by you. So if one of my children are having a bad day and seem to be making constant bad choices they are tomato staked. I'm basically saying to them, you cannot handle life on your own today, let me help you. It's not mean or harsh. They simply are with mom and can't be out of my site. They help me with whatever I'm doing and we talk and just hang out. If we're at friends house they sit at my feet and have to just chill and be bored. I am helping them make right choices by being with them. I am taking away temptation really. Sometimes I'll do it for 10-15 minutes. Sometimes I'll do it for a day or more! My darling Elijah was/is a tomato often. He really has a hard time with self-control but he's getting better. In fact a few weeks ago he was standing in the hall and getting ready to do something he shouldn't. I saw him actually stop himself from moving forward and then his eyes got huge and he looked at me with a gigantic smile and said, "MOM!!! I had self-control!!!! I was going to yell and push and I STOPPED!!!" He was so proud and so was I. It was so cute he recognized it in himself. We all did a celebration dance and still talk about it. He's learning!
I read about a mom who knitted a little rope with handles and when she has a "tomato" she wraps it around her wrist and the child's. It's soft and keeps them close. I can say as a mom with many children who are always around me the hardest thing is to not forget they are suppose to be with me! I can see where the little rope comes in handy! I don't do a rope, I just keep them engaged and by me. It's a discipline but also a time to rebuild a connection. The best way to get obedience from your children is to have their heart. To truly enjoy them and love them. Keeping them close helps re-establish that connection as does spending time WITH your kids, not just by them.
Next time you have a child that seems like you can't take your eyes off... don't. Help them make good choices. "Stake" them. Keep them close. Remove temptation. Talk about your expectations, their struggles and also just about life and what's new with them lately. Ask them how you can pray for them. Pray with them. Build a connection, make clear your expectations and set them free to try again.
For us tomato staking is gentle, loving guidance. It's saying that you understand making good choices is hard sometimes and you're on their team! Your goal is to help them in life not make it harder.