The question is what does loving training looks like? The answer is straight-forward: loving training looks like a parent expecting first-time obedience, giving clear instructions, and offering praise or correction depending on the child’s response.
Straight-forward? Yes. Easy? Not so much.
So let’s break it down, remembering that these are guidelines, not a formula. Please don’t ever think if you follow certain steps you’ll produce some amazing, obedient kid who never talks back and always keeps his room clean. There is no magic parenting wand. You’re raising people, not robots. Please don’t throw away your brains as you seek to train your children. With that said, know that I wholeheartedly believe these ideas are insanely helpful as you seek to raise your children.
1. Expecting first-time obedience
When you give your child an instruction, you expect action immediately. Not in a minute, not after he’s done with his game, not after she finishes her drink; you expect action right away. It is not enough to just be thankful the instruction is obeyed eventually. You must expect your child to obey on the first ask. Seasoned mom of three, Ann, said “slow obedience is disobedience,” and she is absolutely correct.
Why does first-time obedience matter? As long as the obedience happens eventually, isn’t that good enough? In a word, no. You think your kid’s teacher will be okay with assignments being turned in after the due date? How about your kid’s eventual boss? How’s she going to treat your kid when he doesn’t do what’s asked of him in a timely manner?
Remember: you are not training for just this moment. You are training for a lifetime.
2. Giving clear instructions
Once you have decided to expect first-time obedience, your next job is to be clear with your instructions. When we give direction, it is our responsibility to make sure we are crystal clear, and this starts with getting your child’s attention. Before giving any instruction, Sean regularly said, “Give me your eyes,” because he knew if he could see the eyes of the child, he had her attention. He said it so often that our kids joke about it today.
Once you’ve got his attention, give a short, easy to understand, direction. For example, say, “Come here,” as opposed to, “Put down that toy, pick up your sippy cup and come here.” Once your kids are marked by consistent, first-time obedience you can triple up on the instruction, but in the beginning, start with simple, one-command instructions.
3. Offering praise or correction
Once you’ve given your instruction, your child has two options: obedience or disobedience. If the child obeys, make sure he knows you noticed! If you’re in the beginning stages of training for first-time obedience, reinforce what your child did: “I am so glad you obeyed the first time I asked! That is real obedience!” If your child is already marked by obedience, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need to hear that she did a good job. “Thanks for coming when I called you,” lets her know not only is it still expected but that you’ve noticed she obeyed.
If your child chooses not to obey, you must offer correction. Again, depending the age of the child and where you are on the training spectrum, that correction can vary from an eye-to-eye chat, reminding him of your expectations and giving him another shot at obedience to other forms of correction.
The issue I want to stress isn’t what correction but that there has to be one. Of course, types of correction are important and something I’ll talk about later, but for starters, I want you to be thinking about the necessity of there being one.
When we require obedience of our children, both parent and child are obeying God. As mentioned before, the command for children to obey their parents means the kids should obey AND that parents have to give them something to obey. Sean and I found these steps helpful as we trained our little people. I hope they will help you, too.
Got any specific questions? Shoot them my way and I’ll do my best to answer them, either by email or in a future post. Email Christy