Obedience. That word doesn’t sit well with us. It rolls off our tongues like vomit and hits our kid’s ears like a nail file. It brings up images of drudgery; miserable toil under the spiteful eye of a jerk with a bullwhip and a scowl that could curdle milk.
We also know that when it comes to raising kids, obedience is necessary not only for a happy home, but for their safety.
Here are some tips to help your kids view obedience in a positive light without leaving you feeling like the bullwhip guy.
Keep Your Cool
Here’s where the Don’t Be a Jerk part comes in. It can be frustrating and downright infuriating to be ignored, especially by your own kids. Getting angry with them won’t help. It’ll only frustrate them, which is no way to gain the trust and respect that leads to willful obedience. Take a deep breath. Keep your head on straight. And think like an adult, don’t emote like a toddler.
Give Commands, Not Requests
In the name of being polite, it can be easy to make requests of our kids rather than give a clear command.
“Will you please take out the garbage?” That’s a request, which means kids think they have an option.
If that’s how you mean it, that’s fine. If you want to end the negotiations before they ever start, make it clear that you’re giving a command, not making a request.
Learn from a Parrot
After years of, “I didn’t hear you,” and, “I thought you said XYZ,” we learned a lesson from our feathered friends and require our kids to repeat back to us what we just said. It can be tedious at times, but it ends confusion and, more importantly, excuses.
Time to Check In
This one is also ridiculously simple, and insanely useful. Our kids come back to us when they’ve finished a task and tell us what they’ve finished. That’s it. This little tip alone puts an end to half-finished and forgotten tasks. There’s instant accountability, the kids know they can’t cut corners, and parents know when a task is completed.
Do Away With Reminders
Nagging is a bad idea all around. It belittles the kid, frustrates the parent, and just doesn’t work.
Constant reminders are a form of nagging. Give your kids a command, and leave it at that. If you expect them to do it, with time and consistency they’ll rise to that expectation. If you constantly remind them, they won’t even try to remember.
Immediate, Unpleasant Consequence
Before you begin giving commands, be sure your kids know what will happen if they willingly refuse. Regardless of the discipline you use, be sure to spell it out clearly ahead of time. Be sure it’s immediate enough to make an impact, and unpleasant enough that the kid will want to obey.
The Magic Mantra
I wish I could remember where we picked this one up so I could give the originator credit, but we have taught our kids for years that obedience is three things: Obedience is immediately, completely, and sweetly. They are to do what they’re told without dragging their feet, they’re to finish the task to our satisfaction, and to do it without grumbling.
I realize this probably seems over the top to most parents, as though I’m pushing my kids to achieve something beyond their limited ability. I thought that too, until I incorporated it into our daily lives. Since then, I’ve noticed when I enforce this standard, the kids are not only more well behaved, they are happier, too.
See the Writing on the Wall
Our dining room walls are covered with papers. We have lists, reminders, helpful quotes or sayings, and anything else we want to focus on as a family. At one time, this included a checklist. It was simply a list of what we expect of our kids, and of ourselves as parents.
When our kids aren’t listening, or are especially unruly, we take a few minutes to go over the checklist. Without fail, we can spot at least one item we’ve been slacking in, and when we step it up in that area, we see an immediate and positive change in our kids.
I encourage you to sit down with your sweetie and create your own checklist. Use this post as a starting point. Then leave a comment with the changes you see in your home.
What are you going to put on your checklist?