Herald Journal Columns
May 29, 2006, Herald Journal

Teach your children obedience


As an aunt of four wonderful boys (I mean that in a sincere way most of the time), I have had the opportunity to witness and experience parenting first hand from the age of 11.

I have seen sweet, well-behaved boys that I’m happy to claim as mine, and then I have seen the biggest brats ever. They can’t be expected to be sweethearts all the time, but I do expect them to listen.

I believe one of the most important behaviors parents can teach their child is obedience.

Parents tend to forget who the parent is and who the child is; giving in whenever a tear may fall. This only teaches a child how to get what they want when they want it.

So, in all actuality, it’s the child that is teaching the parent. Many times, parents get played.

Dr. Anthony Kane, author of “How to Help the Child You Love,” explains the seven keys to child obedience.

Kane explains that obedience is very important to a child’s development, but it must not be forced upon them, or the child will “foster resentment,” leading to rebellious behavior.

His idea is to not force children to obey, but teach them to want to obey by using the seven tools.

The first is showing loving concern for the child, and not taking advantage of them by commanding them to do something in your favor. For example, ordering a child to go get the remote shows that the “primary motive” for giving orders is putting their own interests first. Giving orders must be for the benefit of the child; for example, telling them to pick up after themselves.

The second step is showing sincere respect for the child by remembering that children are not objects, but people, and, in turn, deserve respect.

Third is patience. Yes, kids can be quite annoying at times, but by showing you’re annoyed, they will ,in turn, show resentment.

Fourth is to speak softly. By doing this, children are more willing to cooperate and it helps adults control their anger and negative emotions.

The fifth is to make moderate demands to the child and not constantly command them. Placing too many demands will cause the child to resist authority, even if this means overlooking some childish behavior (after all, they are children).

Kane explains that commands should be made thoughtfully and within reasonable limits. The rule, he explains, is that if a certain behavior is not something the child will do as an adult and if it’s not dangerous, it shouldn’t be made a priority to be corrected.

The sixth, and in my opinion, the most important, is to follow through. When giving a child orders, parents must be firm and make sure the child does obey, without overlooking it.

“This, in the end, will erode your authority as a parent,” Kane states.

When making wel-thought-out demands, make sure those orders are fullfilled by the child, he continued.

“If we want our children to take our words seriously, then we must show them that we are serious,” Kane wrote.

The last step he gives is to be free with ‘Yes’, but not with ‘No.’ By this, Kane states that it’s important to try “to grant every reasonable request our children make,” unless there is good reason not to.

In this case, Kane suggests, instead of saying ‘no’ to a request to have a treat before dinner, say ‘yes, after dinner.’ By changing this word, children won’t feel like they are being denied their requests, but instead they are being granted, just in a different way.

In conclusion, I think it’s important and understandable to want to make children happy (without spoiling them), but it’s also important to show them how to be respectful and obedient, and by giving in, it shows them a parent’s weakness.

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