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Three Points to Make With a Child About Disobedience


Disobedience leads to many bad things in our society: violence . . . crime . . . pain in personal relationships. It must be curbed the instant it erupts, every time, in a child's early years. Disobedience comes to human beings naturally; it takes training to develop obedience in a young child. A loving but firm approach is needed, or disobedience quickly spirals into worse and worse behavior. You don't need to shame or crush a child who disobeys. Instead, point to what the ultimate authority figure - God! - teaches about behavior:


1.       The Golden Rule.


We live in a world of rules. Sometimes there seems to be too many, and sometimes not enough. But rules are important, and have to be followed, except in life and death situations. There's one rule that goes above all others, though. It's called "The Golden Rule." In Matthew 7:12, Jesus tells us that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us. If you want people to treat you with kindness, love and consideration, your actions must reflect those wonderful qualities back to them. A child who tries to pull a chair out from under a classmate to make a silly joke can be asked how it would feel if someone did that to him. Giving a youngster empathy for others is the best antidote to disobedience, because they can understand the consequences better when put in the context of what it would feel like if it happened to them.


2.       Self-Control.


Galatians 5:22 offers a list of the best incentives to obey: the fruits of the Spirit. These are what you get if you resist the temptation to sin. In Christian parlance, it's called "crucifying the flesh" when you are able to control the impulses to be greedy, hurtful, selfish and all those other sins that we all know about. Self-discipline is the quickest and best way to get love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance in your life. And who wouldn't want those?


3.       Put Others First.


The Apostle Paul explains how important it is to think of other people whenever we are deciding what we are going to do in 1 Corinthians 8:9-13. This is an important principle for building strong leadership in a child. The general rule is that you shouldn't do anything that might be bad for someone else, even if it's good for you. If one child struggles with obesity in a family and three others are thin, a loving mother doesn't stock the kitchen with tons of ice cream, cookies and candy. That would be cruel to the child with the weight problem, even if the other children don't have that problem. Out of love for the one with the weight problem, everybody goes without those treats - and is better off, to boot. It's the same thing with many of our choices in everyday life on how to behave. We are all role models for others in everything we do. Even a small child is influencing others all the time. Of course you want that influence to be positive and constructive, and to honor God by making the world a little bit better instead of a little bit worse. So help a child to see that obeying rules is important for becoming a leader, even if they seem silly or nitpicky. The bottom line is that putting the needs and rights of others ahead of your own is not only important for growing your character into that of a leader . . . it reflects obedience to God.


By Susan Darst Williams Heart Lessons 039 2006


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