By Lesley Iwinski
“I get so tired of telling Meredith the same things over and over again. I end up yelling but she still won’t do what she is supposed to. How can I make her more obedient?”
A better question might be: Do you really want a child who is obedient to you?
Consider that instead of a child obeying you, it is better for children to obey the values and principles you have chosen to live by.
This means you have to live by those ideals as well.
If you want to teach your child to be respectful, you must be respectful. If you want them to follow your faith, live in integrity with it. If you want your child to be honest, be honest, and so on.
This shifts the focus in the family from control to cooperation. Children taught cooperation often are comfortable with who they are, care about others and are better prepared to create healthy relationships.
Children who grow up feeling controlled will either submit or rebel.
Because submission comes from fear of punishment or fear of losing love, kids who submit can have trouble standing up for themselves and are more vulnerable to controlling or abusive relationships.
Children who rebel feel as though they have to prove their value through overpowering others, setting the stage for interpersonal problems.
Neither child enjoys the benefits of a warm, close relationship with their parent, because their obedience came with a cost.
To encourage cooperation as you both live in obedience to your values:
- Teach children to follow family rules, while giving them freedom within limits to make choices in other areas.
- Respect your children’s needs as well as your own. Work together.
- Give them opportunities to learn through experience and the consequences of their choices. Experience is a great teacher.
- Listen with empathy while holding firm limits.
- Teach them how to think and how to choose what benefits everyone.
- Help them solve problems rather than solving them yourself or leaving children alone to solve them.
- Value your children and their contributions, and cultivate a close connection.
The next time your child disobeys you, stop and ask yourself, “Do I want to control him? Or would I rather teach him how to cooperate?”