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Steps to Obedience

October 15, 2014
happy kids

In the last article I covered:
1) Training your child to come and 2) Training your children to sit down. Let’s dive right in as I cover the next training steps.
7 steps to obedience
3 No!
This command is much needed, but can be so overused that the child never listens to it. It is used often with another command like, “NO! Do not touch that!” “No! Sit down!” or “No! Come to Mama.” Parents become frustrated that the child is not listening, and begin repeating it more loudly or aggressively. Have you ever been in a store or church and heard a parent say “No,” and then a second later they repeat it at a slightly higher pitch? This continues until the parent reaches that particular stress level that the child has come to associate with seriousness. The child is accustomed to ignoring the first few “No” commands, knowing they are only preliminary. The child is a musician and has learned how to play his parents.
The key to the word “No” is to be judicious and consistent in its use. Do not use it unless it is absolutely necessary and you are committed to following through. If your child is pouring water on the floor and you want him to stop, be prepared to make him stop by applying a switch if he does not respond to the first quiet command. Otherwise, let him pour the water on the floor. It is better to have your child pour water out with you smiling at him than for you to become angry trying to get him to listen to your repeated stressful “No’s.” Learn to be consistent and your life will become one of relaxed joy.
I will not tell you that my children are perfect! They make big messes, pour water on the floor, and do not always sit still! But when I give a command, in most cases they immediately obey, even the two-year-old. I do not make rules I am not prepared to enforce! I only say “No” when I can follow through! My friends accuse me of being too laid back and too relaxed. I see stress as a disease, and do not plan on contracting it. So, a relaxed mom I will be!
“No” is usually the first word a baby learns to say; he hears it so often that he just begins to repeat it. A few months ago when my baby was about 18 months old and learning to talk, I realized that when I said “No” he repeated it back to me. I told my husband, “I think I have messed up and Roland does not understand the meaning of ‘No’ anymore.” I was not consistent! So I decided to use the Russian word for “No” and be consistent with the new command and not use the “No” word anymore. So, “Kneat” became my new word to make him obey. It worked like a charm; he respected the new word and knew that Mom meant business when she said “Kneat,” and I got the results I wanted. So now I have two negative words. “No” is a general word for the opposite of “Yes,” and “Kneat” is a more threatening word that censors any negative behavior and demands immediate compliance.

4 Go to Sleep
How can you get your children to just go to sleep? The same way you get them to do everything else: Be consistent! Every night, put them to bed the same way at the same time and never let them take over the process.
At eight o’clock every night we read the Bible, pray, give them drinks (and if they are hungry, an apple or banana while we read), then kisses, and finally lights out, and that is it. They are in bed and the day has come to an end. At times we have had to remind one child or another that this rule is final, but most of the time the conditioning is never challenged. We have them play hard all day, so they want to sleep!

A funny story:
My six-year-old trained my two-year-old to go to sleep anywhere, anytime by giving him treats. She loves training dogs, and decided that training her brother was fun as well. So she got little pieces of cheese or chocolate and would give him a command like, “Sit down,” “Get up,” “Lie down,” “Say ‘Mama,’” and so on. She then told him, “Close your eyes; now go to sleep.” To her great joy, he did!
One day at church I told my mom, who was holding Roland, “Just tell him to close his eyes and go to sleep and he will obey!” She laughed, but after a few minutes of him wiggling in her lap she tried it, and instantly he fell back in her arms with his eyes closed and was soon sound asleep! She was shocked, and I have to admit I was too! The best part about it is that he still goes to sleep that way. It is like putting a baby doll down.

5 Don’t Touch
This training starts early. It is one of those commands that could save your child’s hand from being burnt or cut or any number of harmful things. When you are holding your baby and she reaches out to pull your plate off the table creating a huge mess, it is time to train her not to touch. Instead of pushing the plate beyond her reach, creating an “if you can reach it, it is yours” game, keep it within reach and start training. As she reaches for it, take her hand away and say, “Don’t touch.” If she reaches again, have a pencil or small switch equivalent in size and tap the back of the hand. This is not to hurt but to reinforce your words. She will pull her hand back and, depending on the child, will stop and let go, or try again. Make sure you win the authority contest and then create another opportunity later in the day to reinforce the training.
Holding a book is a good training tool; they love to reach for a book. Do this for several days until they understand and respond to the command quickly. As they get older, put things on the coffee table that you do not want them to touch and again train them to not touch by being close at hand to reinforce your command of “Don’t touch.”

6 Stop
This command, like “Don’t touch,” can save their life. If your child is about to step into the street, you want him to stop in his tracks when you shout “Stop!” It also goes along with “Come to Mama,” so practice the two together. You can also create a game to play with your children (when Mom says “stop!” you stop). It is okay to have fun while you train them. The more conditioning you do the less trouble you will run into later.
In all your training, remember it is not about disciplining them but about training and conditioning them to obedience so they do not require as much discipline. You will have to discipline at times when they are rebellious or disobey, but the more you train the less you will have to discipline, and as a parent that should be your goal. So start training!

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7 comments on “Steps to Obedience”

  1. I had a 13 month old girl who still don't sleep through the night. She will only sleep while breastfeeding. She will wake up several times at night for milk. I had try to briefly breastfeed her and forcefully unlatch her, she will scream at the top of her voice. I try to ignore and finally she will fall asleep. But after few days doing so, I found that her sleep does not improve. she still wake up so many times! Help!

    1. Breastfeeding can be a very strong sleep association! I would highly recommend the book The No-Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley. There is most likely nothing physically wrong with your daughter. If she is used to falling asleep while breastfeeding, she will use breastfeeding to send herself back to sleep all night long as she lightly wakes while going through sleep cycles. It can be a long process break this habit, and learn to sleep on their own, but with understanding and patience and persistence, it can be done! Our first daughter didn't night wean and sleep through the night until she was two, so I understand your exhaustion. Blessings to you and your family 🙂

  2. I love this concept! It's fun and enjoyable to train on the front end, but frustrating to always be behind your child's disobedience. I think some of the "training" is practice for Mama to remember what to do after the command has been disobeyed and to do it before feeling angry.

    Thanks for the sweet wisdom! I always enjoy your articles!

  3. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series by Shalom! My only disappointment was getting my January-February NGJ magazine in hopes of finding the continuation of command #7 Go Potty. Will it be coming out in the March-April edition?

    Thanks & continued prayers of blessing upon this ministry!

  4. I really appreciate your wisdom concerning training children. It is very practical. Thank you a lot. I thank God for bringing me to this website.

    I am a new mom with a seven months old girl. I have been training her to sleep in her own crib for about a month, but she still can't sleep at a regular time. I think I am facing two challenges now that I need your advice: 1. Is she too young to sleep in her own room now? If so, what age will be proper for her to sleep in her own room? As for now, she sleeps in her own crib about 1.5 meters away from our bed in our room, but I find that we disturb her sleep a lot if we talk too loud or if my husband comes to our room checking on us when he comes back home very late at night from work.

    2. If we can't be home at her regular sleeping time like around 9 pm every day, how can we still be consistently or effectively training her to sleep at a regular sleeping time, given the fact that we don't have parents or friends around us watch the kid? As my husband and I need to attend a church activity once a week. By the time we come home, it is already around 10 pm. Or occasionally we go to some friend's home and come home late. This really disturbs my training of her sleeping a lot.

    Please help. Many thanks.

  5. This is such a wonderful article!! Wish I could share this with every new mom I know... I'm so grateful to have learned these training steps when my first child was still very young. He learned many commands including "go potty" (When he was 5 months old, I listened to the audio of how you trained your girls to go potty on command.) Oh, how simple and easy it is to train the little ones!

    And this training really does lead to relaxed, joyful motherhood just like you said! My favorite thing as a new mom was being able to sit my little boy on my lap and still eat dinner in peace because he knew not to touch my plate. 🙂 Then when we got home, I could put him in his bed and he would lie still and go right to sleep! Thank you for sharing this excellent Biblical advice!