There are 3 major areas that I focus training my children on they are obedience, self-control and respect. These are the foundation that needs to be laid before you can move forward with other character training. Without these qualities established you will not be able to train anything else! In this article I will talk about obedience.
Obedience is simply doing what you are told, when you are told with a good attitude. There is a chain of command that we all must be obedient to as Christians. Starting with God, the husband, then the wife then the children in family. In church it is God, the elders, then the congregation. In the work realm it is God, Master, then worker. Each of these areas mirrors the triune that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are. Just as Jesus submitted to his authority and was obedient even unto death we too must be obedient to our authority.
Before we can establish obedience in our children we must first put obedience in place in our lives as parents. Are we obedient to God? Our husbands? The bible? These are questions we must ask ourselves and make sure that we are right before we start to train the little one's God has placed in our care. As a person under authority we are not of ourselves but must seek the will of our Father God and husbands in training. What do they want us to require obedience in? What actions do they want us to take to get there? What is most important to them? How do they want us to implement obedience training? How can we be more obedient to them?
Once you have established your standard and superiors will, then you can start making plans to train your children. This takes time, commitment and dedication. Training that is done haphazardly and without consistency will only breed frustration for the children and the parent. When we are working on training we set aside a special time of day to talk about the subject (obedience) and establish the definition, expectations, and consequences. We will talk a lot about when we may need to be obedient and what it looks like. I will try and play some games to high light obedience with the children. One we simply call the obedience game. I give silly commands to the children and they must say, "yes, mommy," and go do them. I might tell them to go run around the house one time, ring the doorbell and then come lay down on the couch. Or maybe it is running into the kitchen and hiding under the table. I always make this game fun. We also act out the ways to be obedient. Practicing right and wrong in a theatrical way. This is the practicing before the situation. Another big part of training is prepping the children before we go to do something. Before going to the store, church, a friends etc we will pray, talk about my expectations and what are the right things to do. We also discuss what is not right and I try and give a cheerful encouragement such as, "I know you girls can do a great job at the store today, let's look for a way to bless each person we see maybe by smiling at them or using quiet voices, we're Lebens we can do this!"
We are working on quick obedience at our home also. It breaks my heart when I notice that a child does not quickly obey their parents. I wonder how many times children could have been saved from painful accidents by simply listening when a parent said, "STOP!" Obedience to our words the first time is of the utmost importance not just out of respect for authority, but, because it may mean the difference between life and death. Each time I repeat myself over and over and my children do not obey my heart aches because I know that I wouldn't be able to keep them out of harms way with my words.
One way to ensure that our children are obeying and doing the what and when is by requiring them to answer us with a, "yes, mom." By doing this we know they have heard and understood. This is one of those repeat, repeat, repeat things. I have to remind my children to say it, but, that also means that they have heard. If I ever feel my anxiety rising it is usually because someone has not done what I said, when I said, with a good attitude and then I know I need to correct the situation. The more I set aside time to correct the situation and deal with it now, the less I will have to later. We can model this well for our children by responding to them in kind. When someone asks for something I love to say, "Yes, Julia I would be happy to get you a glass of water." When we model that we are happy to serve and help our children they will recognize this and want to do it too.
Attitude is where I find the most gray area. I believe this is Satan's easiest accessible way into our children's actions. We may not always see the rolled eyes, or always discern the improper tone of voice. But, when we do we must require the utmost respect. We must recognize that this is not of the Lord and has no place in our homes. I've noticed that as my children get older they become better at the what and where, not the attitude. I try and catch them and encourage them to evaluate the heart behind the attitude. I may ask a question like, "Is this a way you would speak to Jesus when serving him?" "Are you speaking from the goodness in your heart?" I want to make sure that our children recognize that an attitude of sass is not of the Lord and is sin. Because this is such a sly area I have to purpose to recognize and deal with it. As my children get older it becomes less of a discipline situation and more of a coaching and praying situation. For the little ones it remains simply you must obey with a cheerful attitude or you will be disciplined.
We have a lot of room for improvement in the area of obedience in our home. It takes work. I confess some days it is easier to overlook the offense then to deal with it. My sin of passivity never equals God's righteousness. If I am going to change my complacent ways I must choose to teach it first and then deal with the issues. I must choose to notice when the children do obey and praise them. This is not easy, but it is well worth it!