Help Children Obey

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8,9).

So… What is obedience? What does it look like? Is it obtainable?

Simply put, obedience is listening and doing. 

  • Listening is paying attention
  • Doing is careful follow-through

Now that my daughter is four-years-old, she has several daily responsibilities. I often need to remind her of her duties but in my routine of activities it is very easy to forget and become regardless of the requirements which I have placed upon her. This business that causes me to be forgetful is not good. God requires me to remember the expectations I have placed upon my daughter and to ensure that she is obedient.

I do not have a perfect memory, though. So first of all, I must pray for the Lord’s assistance. Then I must prepare the way for my child to be obedient – willingly and cheerfully. For instance, I want her to wear her bike helmet, so we have a place in the house where we keep her helmet. When she goes out to ride her bike, she can easily pick it up and put it on. When she is finished riding, she can easily return the helmet to its place.

One of the rules of the house is to put our things where they belong. For our daughter, that means to put the toys away when finished playing. If I allow her to freely play for several hours, there will soon be multiple toys and stuffies all over the house, outdoors and in various hiding places. Putting so many toys away can be a daunting task for mommy and daddy, and even more so for a young child.

If I am going to prepare the way for my child to be willingly and cheerfully obedient, we need to make the house rule obtainable for her. For our daughter, to put the toys away when finished playing means: When finished playing with the tea set, the tea set must be put away before a different toy is brought out. If she wants to play with her stuffies and her tea set, that is fine, but both must be put away before she embarks on a new activity.  

As the parent, I must be reasonable. I must also be responsible. Teaching obedience does not have to be arduous – sometimes it is – but not always. I’ve learned to ask myself: “How can I help my child be obedient?” It seems to be a more productive question than, “How can I make my child be obedient?” 


© 2010, C. Gillan Byrne


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1White, E. G. (1954/2002). Methods of Teaching (Chapter Title). In E. G. White Publications (Eds.), Child Guidance (p. 31). Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association.


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