When I was a first grade teacher, I often found myself fielding questions on this topic. What was supposed to be a parent-teacher conference about academics often turned into a mini-discipline session. Parents were desperate for answers to the age-old problem of obedience.
In some ways, my child development training and classroom management helped give me great insight to share. So I can’t blame them for asking. But when I think back on it, I can’t help but chuckle about how little I actually knew.
It’s funny how that works isn’t it? When I eventually became a mom I learned that I knew nothing. I learned that it was so much harder that I had ever dreamed. (Yes, in some ways I think a classroom of 28 first graders is still easier.) And I learned that there are some secrets to this gig that I was never privy to as a classroom teacher. (See #4) I’d love to share a little of that with you.
5 Reasons Why Your Children Are Not Obeying
1. You are giving them too many chances.
We’ve covered this before, but it bears repeating: STOP counting to three. Mean what you say and say what you mean. EXPECT obedience the first time. Yes, I know that counting gets them moving. Yes, I know that your kids might even respond before you get to three. You are missing the point. By EVER counting to 3, you are teaching them that whenever you give a command, they will have at least 3 chances to consider doing it.
This is not the message you want to send. Give a command and then give a consequence if the child doesn’t do it. Every time. It won’t take long before they know that you mean business when you say things.
If you find that you really feel compelled to give some sort of reminder with a very young child, try saying something like “I need you to obey.” This will remind them that there is indeed a consequence coming if they cannot get off the “fence” about your command.
2. You give confusing, conflicting, or hypocritical commands.
When you tell your child to do something, stop and think it out first. Make sure your words make sense and don’t contradict themselves. A silly one would be “close your mouth and eat.” I’ve been guilty of saying this one and we always laugh because it’s impossible to do that! (Don’t worry, it’s ok to laugh when you say something silly as a parent- why not?)
We also want to avoid hypocritical commands. In most cases, if our children shouldn’t behave in a certain way, then neither should we. Yes, there may be exceptions to this, but we should be very careful not to make very many. Our word is trusted only if we really do what we say.
3. You are not considering their developmental ability.
Don’t forget to consider your child’s ability here. Remember that young children can follow ONLY one command at a time. You tell a 3-year-old to put his PJs on. You don’t tell him to get a drink of water, brush his teeth, put on his PJs, and get into bed. Trust me, that will NEVER happen and you will end up with a frustrated mom and an exasperated child.
Around age 4-5, children can handle multiple commands, but the transition is slow and every kid is different. Try two things and see if they can handle it. Then work your way up to more. Unless it’s a regular routine, even a 10-year-old is going to struggle with a task which involves 5-6 steps that are new to him.
4. You have no authority.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but as your children grow into the moral reasoning stage (approximately ages 6-12) you had better come up with something better than “because I said so.” If they don’t throw that out in these years, they will certainly do so in the teen years. You have more authority than that and you should use it.
Sit down with your kids and show them in the Bible where God commands parents to train their children and discipline them (I’ve got a great Bible study to help with this). Then show them the verses that tell them to obey, listen to, and honor their parents. Don’t do this when they are in trouble. Do this as a teaching time when things are calm. The TRUTH about this will go a long way in helping them understand that you indeed have this authority to be in charge.
5. They don’t understand why they should bother.
This one piggy-backs on #4. Kids need to know that parents are an authority appointed by God, but there are so many other reasons to obey. The Bible says we are to obey because it shows God that we love Him. Which means if we don’t obey, what message are we sending? Mm-hm. You got it. There is also great blessing in obedience, it’s the perfect witness, and it pleases God.
I know that you want to help your kids with this. It was out of my own struggle with teaching my kids to WANT to obey that I wrote this Bible study. I’d love to share with you the peace that we have in out home as a result of teaching my kids exactly what God says about obedience. Grab your copy today!
Think about it~~>
So what do you think? Are you guilty of any of these? Hopefully, you know that you are. The truth is, we are often guilty of these at various times. Not all at once, but they can creep in and consume. Don’t get discouraged, mom. Keep at it. We can do this!