The ABCs (Absolute Basic Criteria) for Raising Spiritually Sensitive Children – Part 6
The Bible provides sufficient principles for child rearing, but it does not give us a detailed blueprint for every action. Let’s keep in mind that God’s Word speaks clearly of the righteous goal for parenting: “Be ye holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
It is my desire to show you the practical side of biblical truth. There is no greater joy than to see your children grown, serving the Lord and raising your grandchildren with the same biblical goal of holiness. Here is the next part taken from “O.”
O is for Obedience
At the age of 2 years, my granddaughter, Sophia, understood the word “OBEY.”
To Sophia, my name is Nina. We would have twice weekly quality time together, and she would rush to hug and kiss me, knowing that my purse was always full of candy, toys and other goodies. She knew that our time together usually included new toys in Nina’s playroom and a trip to the playground or bounce house.
By the end of the day, despite the fact that she had my undivided attention and fun out the wahzoo, there would no doubt be at least one situation where she and I would disagree on who’s the boss. She said NO and I said YES. Then I would change my tone of voice to a more firm and focused tone to express to her that this is not a game, and Nina meant business; my yes meant YES. “Sophia, you must obey Nina, and I said yes, you will sit in the high chair and eat lunch now.” Then, I would proceed with a firm and confident instruction as I lifted her up to the seat. “You are going to sit in the highchair, and you will be quiet. We will pray, and then eat our lunch together.”
Notice I did not have a conversation with her about sitting in the highchair. I didn’t play a game, try to distract or humor her. If she was still a baby or even a 1-year-old, distraction and diversion would have been effective, but it never works with any age beyond 2 years. Now Sophia is older, and she must obey. She has to know that I am the boss while I am babysitting her, and I am serious.
My instruction was clear and absent of a threat.
I never made an idle or unrealistic threat that I wouldn’t follow through with. Such as, “If you don’t sit in the highchair and eat lunch, then Nina is taking you home now and your mommy will spank you.” Well, that wouldn’t have worked, because I had already scheduled with Sophia’s mom, my daughter Brooke, that I would babysit her until bedtime. Also, I didn’t want to give Sophia an option to obey or not based on if she wanted a spanking or not. Of course she didn’t want a spanking, and she wanted to play at Nina’s house and go to the playground after lunch like we had planned.
She must obey me. If she started kicking, I would say in a firm voice, “Sophia, you have to obey Nina.” And I would proceed with my plan to feed her. As soon as she bent at the waist to submit to my authority, I began praising her obedience. “Yay, Sophia obeyed Nina. That is a very good girl. You are so happy now and Nina is happy too. Okay, hold my hand and we’ll pray. Now its time to eat!”
Notice that when giving her the clear instruction to sit and eat I didn’t mention going to the playground. When training a 2-year-old to obey, you must keep things simple and avoid the temptation to bribe or negotiate with them. If you say, “Sophia, if you eat all of your lunch, then we can go to the park,” you will then spend the next 20 minutes begging her to eat, giving her control of when and if you are going to the park.
Obedience training is not for wimpy moms. When you are exhausted, hang tough! You are doing the world’s most important assignment. Your demanding 2-year-old will grow into a thinking and loving adult. They have an eternal soul and a special place in the heart of God, their Creator. But it is up to you to teach and train them.
Training your children and grandchildren to obey should include more than discipline. It is very important to have many conversations of training and explanation during a non-conflict time of reading and talking while holding them on your lap.
I love you more than you can possibly understand. I have prayed for you even before you were conceived. You are precious to me, and I thank God every day that He gave you to our family and allows us to raise and train you.
That’s why Nina and Pa and Mommy and Daddy teach you to obey. It’s because we love you very much. That’s how we take care of you and protect you. We know what is best for you and what is right. The Bible talks a lot about what is right, and we obey the Bible because it is God’s book. Do you have a Bible? Let’s read your Bible. Ephesians 6:1: “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” Do you know what the word “obey” means? “Obey” means to do what you are told, right away when you are told, without complaining. It is important to be happy and nice when adults, teachers, parents or grandparents give you an instruction. That will show them respect. It will make your little heart feel so happy and good when you obey with a good attitude.
Everyday you are growing. You grow and you grow and you grow. Someday you will be an adult too. It is true. You will be all grown up. You might be a babysitter, a teacher or a mommy. Then your kids will obey you because you will know what is right. That is how life works. Isn’t that great? Nina loves taking care of you.
An obedient child is one who is both respected and respectful of the words of responsible adults and parents. Teaching children obedience can be challenging at times, but the outcome of the values learned strongly depends on approach and consistency.
Healthy and successful parenting can be boiled down to two essentials: love and control.
Use the tips below, and begin taking steps toward teaching your child to obey. As a result, your efforts will yield a well-rounded child whom you will enjoy taking anywhere at any age. They will be a blessing and joy to your family and all who know them. They will bring honor to you and to God. Parenting and obedience training is hard work, but it is worth it.
- Give a clear instruction.
- Account for the child’s age.
- Expect the same behavior at home as you do in public.
- Be consistent with your rules, or don’t make them at all.
- Make your rules the same as your kid’s rules, and lead by example.
- Be solid. No means no and yes means yes.
- Allow freedom within boundaries.
- Back up what you say.
- Change your voice tone to be firm and serious when giving directives.
- Reward obedience and good behavior.
- Role-play the behavior and responses that you desire.
- Treat your child with kindness and respect.
- Design and organize your child’s environment.
- Be a firm disciplinarian while simultaneously showing great love and affection for them.
Read more of these great tips from the series.
Trina Titus Lozano, mother of four grown children and grandmother of nine, is a former professor of home economics at Christ For the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas, and the creator of The Home Experience Semester Course. The daughter of Devi and Larry Titus, Trina is the author of Wait, the Smart Choice Abstinence Education for Public Schools, and the vice president of Wonderful Days, a nonprofit organization based in Fort Worth, Texas. Trina is a counselor, cognitive therapist and popular inspirational speaker at public schools nationwide. She has been recognized by the state of Texas premarital counseling program, Twogether in TEXAS. Trina is the author of The ABCs, Absolute Basic Criteria for Raising the Next Christian Generation, and is an ordained Christian Minister. She is open and candid, and her messages apply to real-life issues. Trina and her husband James (since 1983) reside in Colleyville, Texas.