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Timely Tips on Tuesday: Training in 1st-Time Obedience

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Faith's Firm Foundation: Timely Tips on Tuesday: Training in 1st-Time Obedience

Monday, March 7, 2011

Timely Tips on Tuesday: Training in 1st-Time Obedience

I'm treading on controversial ground today, but I have to touch on a subject which is crucially important to the future of the Christian family.

Why is it important for children to obey their parents the 1st time they're spoken to?  I believe it is primarily because it's a picture of the obedience that we are to give to our Heavenly Father's instructions and commands.  "To delay is to disobey," the saying goes.  Obeying their parents prepares children to obey their Lord and Savior.
No parent enjoys disciplining their children, really. You have to love them and be unselfish to discipline them consistently. The goal in discipline is that the child should learn to obey, and not need outside discipline, but be motivated from the heart to obey the Lord, and his parents.

Ephesians 6:1-3

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;

3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

Colossians 3:20

20Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

God's desire is that it go well for children and that they live long on the earth, and that is why he or she should obey and honor you, the parent.

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
Proverbs 29:15

It's good when the Dad administers the discipline,
but I would prefer this Dad were using a neutral object.
The following is an excellent definition of "spanking" which Elisabeth Elliot gives in her book, "The Shaping of a Christian Family," in which she recounts her own upbringing:

"A spanking is not child abuse. It is a deliberate measure of pain, delivered calmly, lovingly, and with self-control, on a loved child in order to deliver him from self-will and ultimate self-destruction."

I believe in administering "pain" in a calm, loving manner--in other words, spanking a child--when they disobey, because God instructs us not to "spare the rod" or we'll spoil the child, and because I've seen the wonderful results, in more cases than I could count, of grown, now happily married, "children" who were spanked, who are now raising their own children, and continue the practice of spanking their own children when necessary.  I go on record also as being a firm believer in using a "neutral" object when spanking a child.  We used a wooden spoon, much like this one.

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Proverbs 22:15

Before we talk about specifics in training in 1st-time obedience, I want to say this:  if you, as a parent, have not been expecting 1st-time obedience from your children--maybe you've become just a little tired of trying, or lax, or you've fallen into being a repeating parent, but now you are intending to start over and change your ways--you need to prepare your children for the change.  Don't spring it on them.  Especially children old enough to converse with.  At a non-confrontational time, sit down with them and explain that you were wrong before, and God has shown you that it's important for them to obey you the first time that you speak.  Ask their forgiveness for not disciplining them and training them as you should.  Explain clearly, and in detail, what will be expected from now on, and the consequences that will result if they disobey.  Give them the opportunity to ask questions.  Make the time loving.

Children, in order to obey, must know what they're being asked to do, and must understand, on their level, what will happen if they choose to disobey.

The next time you have an instruction to give them or you need to tell them, "No":
  • Speak the child's name
  • Look them in the eye
For children who are around 3-years-old and up:
  • Give the instructions clearly
  • Keep them brief
  • Speak in a calm voice
  • Insist on a verbal response such as, "Yes, Mom," or "Yes, Ma'am."
Know what you're going to say before you speak to them, or you'll "lose them" while you're trying to think of what you were going to tell them to do!

It will be easier and easier to speak in a pleasant voice as your children become more and more obedient.  It's important to speak in a natural, pleasant manner, and especially so, if you're implementing a new program, or have been accustomed to yelling in the past.  Requiring a verbal response gives assurance that they heard you.  It's a kind of agreement from them. It's also a safeguard against their saying, "I didn't hear you!"  And it is very polite!

Now that you've given an instruction, and they've responded, expect them to obey.  If they, for some reason, need longer then 10 seconds to respond, they should ask your permission first.

If you have not been accustomed to this kind of behavior in children, then this may sound remarkable to some of you, but why is it any more remarkable that a child should obey the first time than that they should obey the 3rd or 4th time they're spoken to?  It's just what they've been trained to do.  I have found that the difficult person to train is not my child, but myself!

If they do not obey, consequences (which have been previously explained) should immediately follow.  Success in training children depends upon your consistency in following through.  You cannot leave any doubt as to whether you really mean it.  You might find that you will think twice before giving a command or instruction, knowing that you have to expect immediate obedience or administer correction.  That is a good thing!

Children 2 and Under
If you have very small children, 2 or under, it will probably take less time to train them to obey.  I pray that this motivates you to start very early with your training.  You'll sometimes forget the consequences, and they might even remind you!  With younger ones you'll need to plan some bite-sized concentrated times for training.  Set up "obedience training" and be prepared with your "rod" of choice to administer one flick to the back of their bare legs.  Try it on yourself first to see how it feels and how little is needed; it should sting, but it won't damage. (For blatant defiance, I would take them quietly to their room or other private area, and administer the discipline to their bottom.  More on that at another time.)

After the correction has been administered, expect them to obey. They're not off the hook.  If you remain calm and are consistent, they'll soon learn that this is the way it is in your home, and they'll obey consistently.  Always teach your children that their obedience to you is obedience to God and the Bible and it pleases and shows love to the Lord.

Speak of the reasons for their obedience, and quote Ephesians 6 and Colossians 3 to them.  Establish the motivation in their hearts to always want to please God by obedience.

I believe that parents would enjoy their children and desire to have more of them and maybe even to Homeschool them if they, the parents, were more consistent in disciplining them and training them in 1st-time obedience.

Do you have a story of your young child feeling more secure by your loving discipline and saying "No", perhaps even requesting it?  What success stories do you have to share of child-training your children, especially very young ones?
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Blogger TiemannFamily said...

The Lord has really be convicting me in this area of EXPECTING first time obedience in my children. I have become tired and I don't want to be the threatening, repeating parent. Thanks for the great reminders! About a year ago we finished doing "Growing Kids God's Way." We noticed a huge change in our children and in us as parents. How soon we forget and fall into old habits. It seems like their has been many times in our 4 years of parenting that I feel like I have re-teach/re-learn. I always feel like child-training is harder on the parent than it is the child. Children will rise to the standard, we just need to hold that standard steady and firm. I appreciate you writing on this subject, I need the reminder and the encouragement. If you think of it, I would covet your prayers. I need to remember the eternal perspective, if I don't train them to obey me, then they will not know how to obey our Heavenly Father. God has entrusted us with 2 of His children and I don't want to take that lightly. We feel blessed and privileged. Again, thanks for the encouragement!

March 8, 2011 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Oh, can I relate! I know from experience that it's the consistency which is the hardest thing, but also so important! We get busy! We get distracted. Many, many things conspire to get us away from staying on track in raising and disciplining our children the way God wants and we know we should. That's every parent's story. What you do about it when you notice yourself slacking off is the difference. You have to reteach and relearn, ask their forgiveness, and God's, and be diligent again! They will benefit (you, too!). For me, a lot of times I had to stay home more, so that we had more consistency in training. Don't ever forget that there's a spiritual battle involved! Satan doesn't want you to raise Godly seed (children). He wants your fruit to be spoiled, small, and sparse (that you'll not increase & have as few children as possible)! We must fight in God's strength, asking Him for help--that's the only way. And don't forget the 3-legged stool of parenting: PRAYER--EXAMPLE--TRAINING! Prayer (on your knees) is the first thing.
Thanks for your thoughts, Briana.
I have not been praying for you as I should, but I will now! You're on the frontlines, and in the heat of the battle!
Remember, God is fighting for you!
Mrs. Gunn

March 8, 2011 at 8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reminder, Wendy. It has inspired me to keep plugging away. When I'm tired I tend to let things go some. Then I wonder why everything isn't going as smoothly as I think it should.


March 11, 2011 at 6:28 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

It is a common malady of parenthood that we plow ahead at full speed, and then we step off the gas and coast, and pretty soon we don't realize that we're not going forward--we've really lost time on the road! We need to step on the gas again, if we're going to keep going forward! (A little automotive analogy--isn't that appropriate?) We're all like that. We need reminders:)
Good to hear from you!

March 11, 2011 at 7:43 PM  

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