Last week we suffered through a particularly challenging trip to the store, courtesy of my two younger children. Sometimes I need to remind myself that they are human. But, after trips like that I also get a strong reminder that my discipline needs to remain consistent. No matter how consistent, we will all still have ‘those’ days now and then, our children will never be perfect. So, with a healthy dose of reality coursing through my veins, when we returned home from an abbreviated trip to the store, we spent some time training.
Incidentally, or Providentially I suppose, we had just jumped back into a focus on character, obedience in particular. We have done quite a bit of role playing and had numerous practical conversations to help us all get back on track and clarify expectations.
Some of what we have done this week . . .
Talked about obedience through the Bible:
- Ephesians 6:1, of course. God commands obedience to parents
- Romans 13, obeying authorities
- Abraham’s obedience. This easily built on our memorization of Hebrews 11, “By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” What a great example to follow!
We talked about what obedience is using the Character First materials:
- Cheerfully carrying out the directions and wishes of those who are responsible for me.
- I will obey my authorities immediately
- I will have a cheerful attitude
- I will complete all that I am expected to do
- I will not complain
- I will go the extra mile
We used the steps for Following Instructions from the Boys’ Town material:
- Look at the person
- Say, “okay” (respectfully)
- Do the task right away
- Check back
We role played obedience:
- We practiced shopping with the kids following me around the house while we talked about not touching anything, staying together, and being quiet
- We showed off our cheerful faces
- We used the vocabulary (during practice and later in disciplinary situations as well. They know what I expect when I remind them to be cheerful during obedience.)
- I would give the kids an instruction (turn off the light) and they would have to obey quickly, say ‘okay’ and cheerfully complete the task, checking back to make sure they did what I asked to my expectation.
Can you tell I'm an eclectic homeschooler? Anyway, practicing in a non-emotionally charged setting ( a trick I first learned from the Pearls) helps us all keep level heads while establishing clear expectations. The kids have fun and learn the joy of obedience even if it is in a staged environment. This focus on obedience with fun, down-home practice has quickly helped to restore peace to our shopping trips and our day to day life.
It seems my parenting cycles a bit. I work and reinforce consistently --- maintain that momentum --- enjoy the results --- ease up a little --- overlook small ‘grievances’ --- become content with second or third time obedience --- get exasperated that the kids aren’t listening like I know they should --- and then the cycle begins again. My desire is to remain in that consistently maintaining stage, but my own humanness steps in as well (unfortunately). God is gracious, as we continue to grow to be all He has for us, consistently, obediently. This is a lesson I definitely speak to myself right along with my children.