By Kendra Roehl
How can you help your children be obedient without telling them to obey? Here are three tools to help you.
Help Your Children Be Obedient
“Because I said so.”
“Because it’s a sin.”
Those were two of the most common reasons I heard as a child for why I should obey. My parents were amazing, but like most of us, they also had moments of weariness. Between parenting, working, and taking care of all their responsibilities, they had a lot on their plates.
As an adult, I understand my parents’ desire sometimes to just have me obey with little explanation (don’t we all?!). But I’ve also learned why taking the time to go beyond these generic answers might actually help our children be more obedient.
With that in mind, here are three tools we utilize in our home to help our children be obedient (without us telling them to obey).
3 Tools to Help Your Children Be Obedient
- Explain the why behind the requested obedience.
As often as we can, we need to explain to our kids why we’re asking them to do a certain behavior.
For example, instead of saying, “No more TV!” we’ll say, “You’ve been able to watch an hour of your favorite show. It’s time to shut it off and find something else to do. It’s a beautiful day; why don’t you go outside for a bit and get some fresh air? You’ll get a little more time this evening to be on electronics after dinner.”
Or instead of saying, “Share with your brother!” we’ll say, “Remember last week when we asked your brother to share his iPad with you and he did? How did that make you feel? As siblings, sometimes others are asked to share with you, and sometimes you need to share your things with others.”
Helping our kids put themselves in someone else’s shoes and teaching them to treat others the way they would want to be treated is often the “why” behind many of our requests. If our kids are taught empathy early on, it will be a valuable tool they can utilize later on in life.
- Talk to your kids about healthy and unhealthy behavior.
The Bible is clear: sin is a part of the human experience. We are clear about talking to our kids about what sin is and how God feels about it, but we’ve also found it’s not enough to simply tell our kids not to do something because “it’s a sin.”
In our house, we spend a lot of time talking about healthy and unhealthy behavior. We have conversations about the ways that God asks us to live and the reasons behind them. We try to explain to our kids how God gives us rules to follow because he knows what’s best for us and wants us to live out the most healthy version of life that’s possible for us.
So when we talk about sin, we’ll ask our kids, “Do you think God would be pleased? Do you think that’s healthy?” It allows our kids to think about not only the why behind the behavior but the beliefs we hold and thoughts we have in questioning whether there might be a healthier way to live.
- Spend time teaching your kids about the character of God.
It is so important to understand the heart of God towards us, others, and the world at large. If we don’t, our view of the world and how we should interact in it will be skewed.
We talk often with our children about how God is loving and kind, compassionate and forgiving. We remind them that he has plans for their lives and that they are good. We go to the Lord in prayer often as a family when we encounter hard things personally or in the world around us. We work together to bring love and peace to others around us.
Our family’s motto can be summed up with four simple words: Love God, love others. When we know deep in the core of our being who God is, we’ll want to do what he asks of us.
Wife Step: Do you find it challenging to get your children to obey? Which of the three tools above could you try with your kids this week?
Do it afraid. Kendra Roehl has sought to live out that advice as a social worker, foster parent, mother of five, public speaker and author. Kendra and her husband have become well-known advocates for foster care, taking in over 20 children in six years, and adopting three of them. She continues to care for others on their journeys as a frequent speaker, a founder of The Ruth Experience and an author of several books, including the One Year Daily Acts of Friendship: 365 Days to Finding, Keeping, and Loving Your Friends. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook @theruthexperience
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