My wife and I have two young children, ages three and 22 months. We have two little teaching tools that we have taught our children using actions:
- “listen, obey – straight away”
- “delay is disobey”
We cup our ear with our hand and say "listen", then wait for them to respond to show that they are listening. The response that I’m looking for is eye contact if we are close by, and also to hear them say “Yes Daddy”.
Once we have their attention, we then do a salute with our hand, as we say "obey", then a snap of the fingers to show that it needs to happen straight away. The associated rhyme we teach when we are sure they have heard the command, but linger longer than necessary in obeying, is "delay is disobey".
These little catchy sayings go hand in hand with teaching our children obedience. I do this regularly with my children and especially if I’m going out and Tanja is looking after them. I ask my daughter what she has to remember today to do with Mummy. I then get her to say and do the hand actions. The first part of the saying "listen", is important in order to get our child’s attention.
We have noticed with our daughter that she is “slow to hear”. At first I mistakenly thought she was ignoring me. Putting into place our ditties "listen, obey – straight away" and "delay is disobey" helped us to identify that she actually had a hearing problem.
The second part follows on. Once we are sure we have our child’s attention, as they respond with eye contact or by saying “Yes Mummy”, we give a clear command or instruction. The response to the command needs to be taught. For example, if we are giving the instruction to come to us, then we have to practice the response to this command.
We started doing this with our eldest child who is now three before she could walk and talk by doing the following:
- Taking a few steps back from her.
- Giving the instruction with hand signal.
- Stepping forward, picking her up and bringing her to where we expected her to come.
We want our children to respond to our call straight away. The reason is both for safety and submission. If our children are in danger, just about to step out onto the busy road we live on, then we want them for their own safety to stop immediately. But for us it is also about them learning to submit to our authority without first lingering and wavering. Ultimately we want our children to heed the voice of Jesus, to "listen and obey", and do to this not unthinkingly and not through obligation, but out of love (John 15: 10-15).
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