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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Burdens or Blessings? Dealing With Disobedience

Mom: {while putting shoes on little brother} "Susie Q, come to mommy please, it's time to go to the store."
Susie Q: {coloring} Hold on, I'm coloring.
Mom: "We have to get going, let's go, I said come..
.now please."
Susie Q: "In just a minute, I'm doing something."
Mom: "When mommy says come, you come...do you hear me?!"
Susie Q: {slowly putting away coloring book while grumbling}
Mom: "NOW...MOVE IT! This is not okay, you are disobeying mommy, do I need to discipline you? Huh? Let's go, I said NOW..." {Frazzled and out the door 10 whole minutes later}


Mom: {While putting shoes on little brother} "Susie Q, come to mommy please."
Susie Q: {walks over to mommy}
Mom: "We have to go to the store now. Would you please put your shoes on."
Susie Q: {puts shoes on} "Can I get a treat at the store?"
Mom: "We'll see...all ready? Great, let's get going."

Oh, more times than I can count I have battled with my three year old in a scenario similar to the first one above. I get frustrated with her constant disobedience in certain areas, then I find myself angry and speaking to her with a harsh tone. I know the second scenario is possible, so the question must be asked...

Whose fault is it when she consistently disobeys?

I'm looking in the mirror.

The fact is, when our children disobey, they are just doing what their little sin natures are supposed to do. It's our job to civilize them.

Why do we train and correct our children when they disobey? We do it because we love them. If we obey God by training our children, we will not only be helping them to live life on earth well, but we may be saving them from destruction.

"Don’t fail to discipline your children. They won’t die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death." Proverbs 23:13,14

"Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives you." Exodus 20:12

What Is Direct Disobedience?

Direct disobedience occurs when you tell your child to do something (or have told them not to do something) and they don't respond to the instruction immediately.

How Do I Correct Disobedience In My Child?

Commit to being consistent in giving your children a consequence for disobeying. If you say "come" and those little feet don't start moving, they are disobeying and need a consequence. If you catch them painting on the walls after telling them not too, immediate consequence. Now, because we are ultimately dealing with the heart and not just outward obedience, we must make sure to correct in love not anger. In fact, if you are so angry that you can't control the disciplinary measures you choose to implement, don't even do them. Take a breather. Gain perspective. Children are supposed to sin, we must help them learn not too (at least do their best - we all need Jesus after all!).

*If you want a specific example of discipline in action, head over to At The Well today where I give you one!

Tips From Ladies of Wisdom On What Worked Well For Them In Disciplining Their Children
(You can read the full interviews here)

Cathy Bowman (A mentor of mine from college):

I think some of the things we did for disciplining worked well. If the kids lied, disobeyed, or ran into the street they would get spanked. If they disobeyed, we would say, "are you choosing to disobey?" If they did, I would say, "you have taken away my choice so I have to discipline you. We are responsible for you and you have to learn to obey God and us." I would take them to a private place to spank, explain what they did wrong and why I was doing this, and then when it was over, I would say, "I love you and forgive you." Some other disciplining tools we used were consequences - taking away their favorite things. We also did time-outs if they had tantrums. I would put them in a pack and play until they could be happy for five minutes. I’d say, "you are socially unacceptable, go get some self-control and you can come back into society." :) Don’t start the five minutes until they start being positive.
I tried not to have a lot of "no’s" in their world, I liked distracting them instead.
Also, ask forgiveness from your child (I had to do it very often).

Robin Brookshire (Robin's Egg Blue):

One thing I heard on Focus on the Family when I first came home was the idea of "first time obedience". Sadly, I hadn't heard that before. The idea was that when you tell your child what they need to do, if they hesitate at all you then ask them, "When do you obey?" Their response should be, "The first time." Then you ask them, "Who do you obey?" Their response should be, "Daddy and Mommy." While we weren't always perfect with this, it definitely set a precedent.
The more you discipline and train your children when they are young the less work you will have to do in this area when they are older.

I also liked the saying "Act, don't react." I put that on my refrigerator so it would be a constant reminder.

June Fuentes ( A Wise Woman Builds Her Home):

We believe in shepherding and disciplining our children according to the Word of God. With eight children you quickly find that what might work with one child might not work with the other. That goes also for each incident. One event might need grace while another might need a more severe punishment. One might need just a verbal warning and the other much more. Everything needs evaluation, each child is unique---I ask God everyday to give us wisdom so we might be a good judges regarding this topic. So I don't think one 'method' worked best for us--except the method of God's Word, consistency and love (I Corinthians 13).

Whew! I think that's enough for today! Make sure you hit up Christin's blog tomorrow for tips on dealing with whining and complaining...I also have a few tips for you!

I'm also writing on the topic of discipline over At The Well today - here is an excerpt from my article:

Children are a blessing...

Sure, out in public or via our blogs/social networks we talk all about how are babes are blessings. Uh huh. But how many of you are
sincerely experiencing your children as blessings in the day to day? How often does the thought pop in your mind that your kiddos are burdens (shhh...don't tell!)? You don't want to think that way, but some days it's just so...hard to be a mommy. Don't worry, I can't read your mind, your secret is safe with God. He knows. He knows that so often we are exhausted, exasperated, and sometimes even lost when it comes to truly experiencing our children as being blessings, not just "in theory" blessings. He also knows that there is joy to be had...Read the rest of this article At The Well!

Articles On Child Training & Discipline

The Mystery of Discipline, Sally Clarkson
Behavior & Discipline, Growingkids.org
Little Fools in Aldi, Run the Earth, Watch the Sky

(Training our children works for me!)

Keep up with Like A Warm Cup of Coffee by clicking


Lori said...

Thank you for sharing this reminder and the words of wisdom from the seasoned moms. I'm feeling a bit more encouraged now about facing my very two year-old daughter tomorrow! :)

Courtney said...

Excellent excellent post - I found you from Kristi yesterday and then today At the Well! I love your site!

I posted a little game that you can play to train "first time obedience" if you are interested at:


Thanks for your encouragement today.

Tiffany said...

Thanks for sharing such good advice. It's so easy to get frazzled and fall into bad habits. And then, I think many (most) of us have that 1 child who just requires a whole new level of attention to discipline. A child who really "rattles the fences", tests all the boundaries we give. I think God gives us those kids to keep us humble :-)

Robin said...

Great post, Sarah. I just sent you an email about this. :)

Jen - Balancing Beauty and Bedlam said...

The Well post pops up in my reader first and then I saw yours and thought...wow, how neat that they both are covering the same topic. It's a God thing, and then I saw you wrote them first. :) Putting in the exhausting time to train them in first time obedience when they're young reaps such amazing rewards when they are older. When they are older, you don't want robots, but want them making that choice from true heart relationship, and that heart relationship comes from years of laying the ground work in the primary years. Great post. :)

Kristenph said...

Concerning first time obedience I've heard, "Delayed obedience is disobedience."

We've been watching Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart videos at church. I highly recommend them.


Debbie said...

I will admit it - I have thought of my children as burdens, despite knowing God has given them to me as blessings. I get selfish - I get tired of the work - and I want a break. And that's when the bad attitude creeps in.

Good Discipline takes a lot of maturity on my part, and I'm finding a great need for this advice and these suggestions and guidance. I appreciate this series and will refer to it often.

Christina said...

I NEEDED this post today! My four year old has been very negative and argumentive as of late, and your post made me realize that I need to work a little harder at getting him to listen to me on the first request.

Thanks for the great post!

Kristen, The Pajama Mama said...

love hearing other moms' wisdom!

christinnjon said...

We ARE on the same page! God is awesome like that, isn't He!!! :) Great article! Looking to go read the one At the Well, too! :)

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Great job! And yes, first-time obedience is something that we keep reminding ourselves about, even now that my son is older. The "just-a-sec" creeps in and questions of why and then I realize that I haven't been doing my job.

Nice post over At The Well too Sarah Mae!

Sarah said...

We also say Ephesians 6:1 and Exodus 12:20 after discipline.

Carisa said...

WONDERFUL post!!!!! I tweeted it out and plan to link back to it later on in your series, I get lots of ?s from other moms too about discipline and I just love that you are sharing about this in such a wonderful way.

Thanks- Carisa

Isabel said...

Thanks. Much needed reminder!

Wisdom for Today said...

We all need those Titus 2 friends in our lives. One thing I've learned is that when it comes to kids allowing something once creates the "new" standard! They keep us on our toes!

Thanks for sharing:)

Melissa said...

If I had a penny every time I said "Obey the first time" I'd be rich! We are constantly working on obedience the first time in our home. And it's a bigger challenge these days with a new baby in the house and even more limited time to discipline. But thanks for reminding me how important discipline is!

mom-2-4 said...

Sarah Mae,
Thanks for that post! I'm definately blessed by yours and Christin's posts. Consistency is definately key! But how awesome will it be to hear God say to us as moms "Well Done"- that's what keeps me going!
Julianne :)

MamaHen Em said...

This is a great reminder. We also strive towards first time obedience and often ask them, "Did you hear what I just asked you?" if they aren't responding the first time. At five and seven, they generally do pretty well with this but being children, they totally take advantage when they know mommy isn't being very consistent!

Goose Hill Farm said...

I so needed this post today. I have been having this same issue with my 15 year old son. Some days I want to say...."Okay, that's it...I'm not playing parent anymore!" But PTL, our heavenly father has never said that to us.

Thank you, for such a beautiful and encouraging post!


Debbie said...

I have to say I really like the "First Time" obedience tip - I started using that with my daughter yesterday and we had the best day we've had in about 3 weeks. It's a good reminder!

So can you tell me how & where GRACE fits into discipline? How do you exhibit firmness and grace at the same time? God is NOT simply a God who hammers us down when we sin - He also extends grace to us. How do we teach our children about grace in discipline?

Muthering Heights said...

Great tips! I am working on first time obedience with my two year old, and she seems to be getting it little by little.

She does NOT, however, understand the concept of "time out," and I'm not quite sure how to convey the idea that she has to stay in time out...it just turns in to a vicious cycle sitting her down, then disciplining her for getting back up, and I'm afraid that the connection between the undesirable behavior for which she was placed in time out and the concept of time out itself are getting lost!

jaya pratheesh said...

i do not like the term "first time obedience"...are you raising curious, lively, inspired 'future citizens of this world' or starting a nunnery? children are children because they behave like children. they learn to do things by constant repetition, ok.

teaching them to obey the authority figures(in this case, their parents) without question is a potentially suicidial move in my opinion, because the association of authority=obedience will be too deep in their mind. what about a stranger? what about an ill-motived teacher? what about some impostor in a police uniform? heck, what about future bosses at workplaces? "obey the first time", indeed..

if the child says hold on, wait, give me a minute, remember to GIVE FAIR WARNING.. like, tell them "we're going out in ten minutes, i expect you to be ready by then, close your coloring book after this color, you can finish that when we get back" instead of "put on your shoes on right now".

what will you do or feel if someone comes in while you're working at the computer and switches it off, and says, "get your coat on, we're going to the mall"?

parenting is a lot about respect.. respect the adults they will become. groom them to be respectable adults.. sure, it will take a lot of work , be less convenient for you and will be much tougher than saying "get your coat on. instant obedience", but it will be better for your children AND will make you a better parent.

sorry for the long post, but this line just resonated with me.

jaya pratheesh said...

sorry if i sounded too abrupt in the previous comment. what i meant to say is beautifully explained in this post at the Revived Christian Woman: http://www.revived-christian-woman.com/parenting_reasoning_standards.html

she has another wonderful post about very young children here: http://www.revived-christian-woman.com/parenting_young.html

scroll down that link for further links.

TeriLynneU said...

You know, I just really think that the previous two comments are not in conflict with this post ... I believe you are talking about different things. Of course we show our children respect and treat them with common courtesy but that does not diminish the expectation that they will obey the first time they are told. I am more than happy to give my daughter notice about when we are leaving the house as a general rule; but, if we need to leave to leave immediately, I expect her to obey without delay.

I believe teaching our children to be "good citizens" requires that they learn appropriate behavior in different situations. There are times when asking "why?" is not a matter of disrepect ... but, there are times when it most certainly is. As our children get older they learn the difference - if we have done our job well.

Just my thoughts. I hope I have not misconstrued anyone's position as that is not my intent.

BluePixo said...

Children need a clear definition of acceptable and unacceptable conduct. They feel more secure when they know the borders of permissible action.

*BluePixo Entertainment - A place for mom and dad to share topics about parenthood*