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Teaching Children to Obey

Obedience—that’s a difficult concept for most of us to fully grasp, regardless of our age. Although we most often think of obedience in relation to our children submitting to our direction, it seems that we never fully outgrow the temptation to disobey rather than do what’s right.

Children and adults have similar behavior patterns when it comes to disobeying what those in authority expect. Many times children will physically hide themselves when they know they’ve done the wrong thing. Adults will cover their actions, too, though in much more complicated and destructive ways. Why? Because yielding to others is not easy. However, submission to those in leadership is a biblical principle given to us for our instruction and protection (1 Pet. 2:13). And the earlier our children can learn to acknowledge authority, the better it will be for them.

This is why Ephesians 6:1 instructs, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” God has given us the family structure on earth to teach us how we should ultimately relate to Him, our heavenly Father. This issue of obedience is first learned in the home setting between parent and child. As our children mature, they then understand what it means to obey God.

What can we, as parents, do to help teach our children to submit to authority? Here are a few ideas:

Set well-defined boundaries outlining what you expect from your children. Children need clear, reliable guidelines of what you consider acceptable and unacceptable behavior. They are concrete thinkers, so you need to verbally define what is allowed in your home in a way that is both attainable and understandable to them. Be sure to provide them with specific parameters of location, time, and suitable activities and then confirm that everyone is going by the same rulebook.

Be consistent about how you enforce the boundaries you give your children. This helps your children to feel secure in your home and assured in their relationship with you.

Determine rewards and consequences for good and bad behavior, and stick to them.If children never experience the tangible effects of their actions, how will they learn what is truly right or wrong? This is why it is so important to correct negative behaviors and reward and reinforce godly conduct.

Talk about behavior exhibited by other children or that you see in the media.Such discussions become helpful teaching tools and object lessons that will help your children in the future.

Love your children no matter what. Show God’s unconditional love to your family members even when they don’t do the right thing. No one is perfect. A parent’s caring offer of a second chance is the best motivation a child has to get back on track. And through your loving example your children will experience God’s grace in ways that will shape their lives forever.

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