Kids will challenge, disobey, and emotionally torment their parents on many levels and in many different ways. Parents should not be shocked by this. Why do children disobey? Simply put, it’s human nature to push back and unless you train your kids to obey, it probably won’t happen.
However, teaching children to obey is not something that is done for the sake of the parents; your child’s obedience is not needed just to make your life easier. No, the reason that your child needs to learn obedience is so that THEIR lives are better. Learning obedience will keep them safer and healthier. Learning obedience will help them get along with teachers, classmates, coaches and other authorities in their lives.
As you teach your children to obey, remember to help them understand why it’s important for them to cooperate. Help them to know WHO they should and should not obey and explain to them the dangers of blind obedience to untrusted authorities.
As you teach your children to obey, keep in mind these three types of disobedience:
Children disobey because they forget.
Sometimes kids disobey because they simply forgot what you told them to do or how to do it. Your kids should never be punished for forgetting. They should, however, be reminded to make more of an effort to remember in the future. If your child habitually claims to forget what you tell them, while not forgetting the things they truly want to remember, then reminders may not be enough.
Sometimes kids “forget” consistently because it is their way of defying you. A child may choose this passive rebellion when they know that they will never get away with openly disobeying you. If your reminders do not work, it just may be that your child is trying the passive, less aggressive way of rebelling.
Children disobey because they misunderstand.
It could be that your child will break a rule or standard because they misunderstood or were not thinking clearly. If that happens, your child should be admonished and admit to their mistake. Talk about why they were in the wrong and what they should have done differently.
If your child absolutely knew better than to do what they did, they should suffer a consequence for their behavior. If no standard or boundary was set in advance, you should not discipline your child on the first offense.
Children disobey because they want to be defiant.
The most obvious form of disobedience is when your child directly rebels against you. You ask them to do something and they simply refuse, or they lie about their behavior. When you have established a boundary with your child and they purposely cross it, they should suffer the consequences of their choice.
This kind of disobedience is usually pretty black and white. At least it should be if you’ve communicated boundaries and the consequences of crossing them ahead of time. When your child crosses the boundary, it should not come as a surprise to them when they are faced with the consequences.
I worked with a dad recently who was constantly getting upset with his child for not doing their homework. We talked about boundaries and consequences. He then communicated a boundary AND the consequence should his child choose to cross the line. Eventually, the child DID cross the boundary and the dad calmly carried out the consequence. No yelling, no fighting. The child knew the consequences in advance and, although they didn’t like it one bit, they knew they were in the wrong.
This type of parenting makes for less stress and is much more effective in the long run.
A few more thoughts about disobedience.
When your child disobeys, please remember to discuss it with them in private. The purpose of your rebuke is not to humiliate your child, but to help them learn. And remember that it’s important for them to know you forgive and love them. Hug them if they will let you, tell them you love them. Don’t leave your disciplines or rebukes with a negative ending; always bring closure with you showing or expressing your love.
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