Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Teaching obedience

Motherhood is a learning adventure.
As a young mother with my first child I read many parenting books, so I could know how to be a good mother. I think all it really did was confuse me and cause me to be too soft or too strict.
Time and children have been a good teacher - and finding others who are good mothers and asking them questions and observing what they do.
I have learned so much along the way and I have so much more to learn.
Today I read two wonderful blog posts written by a mother I admire (pregnant with her 7th child). Although I have never met her, I learn so much from her blog posts.
So her recent topic was obedience and she shared very generously things she has learned along the way.
 (post 1 and post 2).

I am diligently focusing on teaching my children obedience. I homeschool my children and no learning can truly take place if they are not able to obey. There are varied degrees of obedience. My goal is to work towards quick and happy obedience.

In the past when working with and teaching my children if they cried I assumed I was doing something wrong and I needed to change my approach. While that may have been true if I was using a forceful method of some such, reading the above mentioned blog post made me realize that I actually was caving in to my children and letting them be in charge, rather than calmly working through what was a tough moment for my child and helping them gain a skill.

Sunday we had a family meeting and wrote a short list of rules we are working on becoming compliant with. We  posted them in the kitchen so both the children and parents alike could be reminded of our goal this week.
One of those goals is to eat food at the table. Now, this has always been a rule of ours, but when I  am not watching the children will wander off with food and eat in the family room or living room. Last week Lydia had a bowl of cereal (dry, no milk) that she was wandering through the house with and scattered it in about every room of the house.
It was then that I realized that I "allow" many of the messes in my  house since I don't follow through on the "rules" that go unheeded. So mostly the rules are posted to remind me to follow through and help them become habit.

This afternoon, I was reading the second post about obedience and she was saying to follow through with firmness (use the word "no"), yet praise for the littlest compliance. As I was reading Lydia asked for an apple. I told her yes, she could have an apple and asked where we eat food. "table" was her reply. I handed her slice of apple in a bowl and escorted her to the table. She tried to circumvent me and go to the office to watch tv with the other kids, and I gently reminded her where we eat.
She cried and protested, I was firm and kind and gently took her bowl of apple slices and set it on the table. She persisted and I persisted. She laid on the floor to protest and I returned to the computer. After a moment I noticed the quiet and turn to see no Lydia and an empty bowl.
I found her in the office, holding a sock. The sock looked like a guilty accomplice and sure enough she had put her apple slices in the sock to hide the evidence being smuggled out of the legal territory.
I had to stifle a laugh as I carried her and her sock to the table.
I am happy to report that was the end of the battle and she remained at the table and didn't leave until she was done.

Overall I am too permissive as a parent, but reading these articles reinforce my desire to gain the skills of finding the balance of becoming firm and fair, of being fun and easy going and not feeling like it has to be one or the other.  I can see that I have made progress over the years and I am grateful knowing that I have done an ok job so far and mostly my kids obey, when they want to - it's jumping that hurdle and helping them to obey when they don't feel like it. Truly I want to learn to teach them how to be "strictly obedient in all things" like the young stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon. I think that is a worthy goal to strive for, not obedient for the sake of being obedient, but learning to be obedient in the small things helps us learn to be obedient in the more important things - not just to preserve us in this mortal life, but more importantly save our eternal life.


jenifer said...

i LOVE this!! and WAY TO GO with the apples, a small but monumental victory. i always say, my kids know right from wrong, because they HIDE their wrong choices. :)
a sock... so cute!

jenifer said...

i LOVE this!! and WAY TO GO with the apples, a small but monumental victory. i always say, my kids know right from wrong, because they HIDE their wrong choices. :)
a sock... so cute!

Bridgette said...

I am working on the same thing at my house. Layne is such a challenge sometimes, but watching his preschool teacher work with him has really helped me to see what I have been doing wrong. Getting emotional and upset because he wasn't obeying, and then ignoring the things he was doing right was causing the trouble. Now I can have higher expectations for him, his behavior is improving, and his self-esteem is better too. Motherhood is truly a journey! Thanks for sharing yours.