Today we are looking at ways to teach obedience, one of the most foundational character traits to teach our kids
Our Strong-willed Show Stopper
“ARIA STOOOOPPP!!” I scream at my daughter.
She had let go of my hand and was running full speed ahead toward the pool fully clothed and without floaties. Even while running at a dead sprint, I wasn’t going to catch her in time.
As I rush to the poolside I see the horrific sight of her tiny little body completely submerged. Without pause, I drop onto my belly and lift her towards the air.
As I pull her out, she is cracking up. Seriously laughing in my face. No fear, not startled at all, just belly laughing like almost drowning is the funniest joke she has ever heard.
“DON’T you EVER do that again!” I bellow like a grumpy grizzly who has awoken too early from hibernation as I pull my sopping wet 16 month old to my chest. I have never been filled with more gratefulness and sheer, utter anger at her behavior all at once before.
As I hold her and calm my 3 year old whom I left on the sidelines to rescue his sister, I know something has to give. I have never, EVER seen a child as willfully defiant as this tiny daughter the Lord has given me. And I have no clue what to do about it.
Why Teach Obedience?
After much crying, prayer, late night internet searches, and throwing my hands up in the air the Lord showed me that even a strong-willed child can be trained in obedience. It just takes more diligence, grit, and guts than the children who love to please their parents.
No matter what your child’s personality is like sweet mama, we are called to teach them obedience.
If you love me, you will obey my commandments. John 14:15
Jesus told his disciples that if they love him, they will obey his commandments. We can’t be truly following Jesus unless we are obeying what He calls us to do.
The utmost desire of my heart is to see my children walking in truth and knowing Jesus as their Savior and friend. This relationship begins with first learning to submit to the authority of your parents. Children are commanded to be obedient to their parents.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. Ephesians 6:1-3
Obedience is something that must be trained and practiced. I have heard it said that it is similar to potty training.
Train up a child in the way he should go even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:16
We train our children to listen to their bodies when they feel the urge to go and respond immediately to that feeling. If they are too busy to listen, accidents happen.
In the same way, a child needs to learn to be attentive to your voice and to immediately respond. If not, they could wind up at the bottom of the pool or in the middle of a car coming scenario.
But how does a parent instill immediate responsiveness in even the littlest toddler, or strongest-willed elementary student, or crankiest teenager? Is that even possible?
Yes, it is possible. But, however, it isn’t easy. It takes a steadfastness that doesn’t budge even when mama is tired or lost all of her patience.
It starts with prayer and active seeking of the only one who knows your child better than you do. Ask for help from the one who knows exactly how your child is wired, and exactly what their little hearts need.
Tools for the Training When Teaching Obedience
Here are some resources that have helped me tremendously while being consistent in training obedience in my children.
The If-Then Chart
The If-Then Chart has been a WONDERFUL tool that we have used with our children for years. Because I struggle with being consistent regularly, this gives me something to refer to in the heat of the moment.
You decide what consequence common behavior issues will have (such as disobedience). Then if your child is disobedient, you can refer to the chart for the consequence that will follow.
This allows you to determine the consequence actions will have PRIOR to being in the thick of the moment and allows you to leave out any negative emotions from your parenting (anger, frustration, etc.).
My FAVORITE part of this chart is that every issue refers to a Bible verse explaining why we don’t want to behave this way. It is so very important to point their little hearts toward Christ and the sacrifice He made to cover our sins every chance we get, and having this on the wall is so helpful!
The Strong-Willed Child (By Dr. James Dobson)
This book, The New Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson, has been a God-send to a mother who was a compliant child. I wanted nothing more than my parents to be pleased with me, and this book has opened my eyes to the way a strong-willed child is wired.
The book is very careful to point out that God has specially crafted and created these tendencies in your child for a reason. (See a letter to my strong-willed daughter, HERE!) They are going to be the people who stand up for righteousness, even when no one stands with them. God has an amazing purpose for their lives, and this book gives the parent information, tips, and tools to be able to parent and spiritually mentor a strong-willed child effectively because sometimes they are a whole new ball game ;).
I would not have survived those early, run-to-the-pool-to-your-imminent-death years without this book!!
Bible Study for Kids Targeting Obedience
“Because I Said So!” Ever yelled that at your children? No? Yeah, …um…. me either 😉
Because I Said So Bible Study for Kids actually helps train children (and parents to!) to WANT to be obedient.
This Bible study has been designed for children to complete either with a parent or on their own (depending on the age level you purchase). My oldest children did this when they were 4 and 6, and again when they needed a reminder at ages 5 and 7. And you know what!? They loved it!!
It was super enjoyable to do with them! Which honestly, surprised me 😉 Our stubborn, sinful hearts don’t always love to hear about obedience. But when studying what the Bible has to say about obedience, and seeing some of the consequences of those who were disobedient to what God says or called a person to do (like Jonah), it opened all of our eyes to the real battle going on between our flesh, the world, and the devil vs. the purpose God created us for.
We all learn something new each time we go through this study (if you purchase a digital download you are allowed to use it multiple times! Whoo hoo!!), and it has been a very helpful resource in our quest to know God in a deeper way and training our children to do the same.
RELATED: 10 Tips For First Time Obedience
What resources have you found to train your child in obedience?
Tiffany is an outmatched mama to three crazy amazing kiddoes, Jesus follower, homeschooler, and blogger. Her goal is to encourage and equip mamas like you to be the women God created them to be, even when life’s circumstances leave you completely outmatched. Check out her FREE two week Bible Study for busy mamas – get into the Word even in your busiest season of life!
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