SOS: What do I do when a child disobeys?
It can be really frustrating to have a child disobey, but it wouldn’t be a typical motherhood without children disobeying at some point. What do we in our home when that happens?
Everything depends on the situation. There are so many good ways to teach children obedience. I have had a million experiences, I bet, by this point. And I’m not sure I’ve handled most of them very well! But sometimes it can help just to hear how one mother handles one situation just to get an idea of how you might. So here is just one example of how we handled one situation. (We’ll see if it was good later on down the road….)
We had a typical experience last night. Some of our children broke some family rules with regards to media use, honesty, and bedtime. The natural consequence was that those children and I didn’t get to bed until 1 am. Since I wake up naturally very early (sometimes 4 am, but thankfully today it was 5:30 am), getting to bed at 1 am is a bummer. For those children, it was also a bummer, since they still had to get up at 6:45 am.
Natural consequences are a welcome aid for teaching and learning obedience. But it can also be helpful in families to have other consequences as well to aid in “learning through experience the wisdom of being obedient” (President Monson, April 2013).
In our family, we have family rules, so this morning, one of the consequences I chose for our family was to review those family rules. After scripture study, I pulled out a recently revised edition (i.e. updated this morning!) of our family rules and we read aloud 1) WHY we have rules and why we have to obey them, and 2) WHAT our family rules are. (We talked about our consequences for disobedience but didn’t read over them.)
I know. Sounds like a rotten way to start the day. Actually, it wasn’t SO bad…
It was fast! It helped having had scriptures first, since we at least had felt the Spirit a little. And I wasn’t mad at them going into the review. (That was a miracle!)
After our little review, I had the children who had chosen to break the rules stay behind for 2 minutes after the other children went out of the room. I handed them a copy of President Monson’s talk and asked them to read it and share something from it with me later, whatever they felt inspired by, as well as one are they felt they could improve. We had a nice exchange, and we all were smiling and laughing together. Another miracle!
Today before scriptures, I carried out the other consequences that the children chose when they disobeyed: I disconnected the cord from the TV and put it in a locked spot to be returned in a few days. And I changed the children’s passwords on the computer so that media time will not be accessible today without my knowledge. In our home, loss of media privilege is the consequence for misuse of that privilege. (They all know that.) It makes my job harder, but I believe in consistency and consequences.
We’re a typical family with normal parents and children who are all still learning the value of obedience. Obedience isn’t valued at large in today’s society, but in our home, we know it is a critical element of a successful society, so we’re going to keep working on it.
My goal is to try to teach obedience not only through example, but as calmly and kindly as the Savior did when he was on earth. I’m still learning how to do that. I feel grateful for Heaven’s help when I try to do it. I need heaven’s help as I keep trying.
Happy Obedience Teaching,
P.S. Lane wasn’t mentioned in this story because he was out-of-town on business last night. Thankfully, he is back today! My heart goes out to all you single mothers who are trying to do all this teaching on your own. You are in a far more challenging circumstance than I!
P.S. At this point in my parenting experience, I know that simply reviewing rules doesn’t mean children are going to obey them. You have to review and review and review and review….But I have seen that having standards and teaching/reviewing them means that children are more apt to live up to them. Children, in their hearts, really do want to be good and happy, just like us as parents! When they learn that the two are inseparably connected, barring unusual circumstances, they will get there. I really believe that.