Teaching Respect and Obedience

Updated on February 15, 2008
R.K. asks from Keller, TX
11 answers

I've tried everything and read everything I can think of-
just looking for some more ideas on how to teach a child (he's 4) how to respect and obey his parents. My son treats us like subordinates rather than his honored parents...ok I might get a lot of "that's normal!" but it really drives me crazy!! I don't want to keep putting him in corner time outs all the time - I want him to listen to me and do as I say - what happens when he's out somewhere about to get into dangerous trouble, and I call him and he doesn't come to me, or even look at me - this happens all the time now, and daddy and I get ignored, which is very embarrassing when we're in public It's either he runs off, or if I catch him he throws a fit. I'm really worried and not sure what to do. I want him to look to us as his parents, not his buddies. I love him, enjoy having fun with him, so I don't want to take those precious moments away - but, well, hope someone can please help!
oh - btw - he only behaves this way for us (his parents). Anywhere else he stays (my parents, his parents, babysitter), I'm told he was SO GOOD-I'm such a good mom, he really knows how to behave, etc. etc....he plays great with other kids and is actually very kind and considerate of others -- why is it often "hell" here for us?

4 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone!! Great advice. I appreciate it all so much.
TSF-we actually read one of those books together, while waiting for the doctor once...we liked it; I'll have to check into finding some more to read to him - he loves reading at bedtime.
Brenda -what beautiful words and advice you shared, thank you so much. We do most of that stuff - or I try to make sure my family does most of that :)
Inge - I HAVE heard that about it being a sign that the parents are doing a good job. So, I guess that's a good thing then? Mine very well might be tired - bedtime is another big battle for us. We have to wake him at around 6:15-6:20 in the morning, but then he's back asleep on the couch (poor kid is obviously exhausted), but he's awake by 6:45 at least on weekdays - but then he's up till 10-10:30...we've tried a stricter bedtime but he's just not tired...anyway another story (sorry I got off topic) I have pinched his arm at times in putting him in time out but then I feel really guilty about that (the pinching not the time out). I have spanked him before, but found that time outs and taking away playtimes/fun things makes him more upset than spankings.
LYNN - I have HEARD of Lisa Welchel's discipline book!! I will have to get that and read it :) Thanks - for the reminder to get that :) And it sounds wonderful - I'd love to mix some of God's word in my daily interactions with my son - I do want to teach him as much and all that I can about God.
I feel better knowing there are more things to do and try, and knowing that well I guess I'm not such a horrible mom after all.
Thank you again.

More Answers



answers from Dallas on

Hi R.,

I have a 3 1/2 year old and we deal with obedience issues as well. I was at a loss on what to do until one of my friends introduced me to a certain book.

I work at Prestonwood's preschool program and one of my co-teachers last year was so sweet and patient with the dis-obedient children in our class. I asked her where she learned such patience and she told me about a book called "Creative Correction" by Lisa Welchel(sp?). I ordered that book from Amazon a few weeks ago(you can get at any book store) and it has totally changed how I parent. She says that not only should we discipline the flesh, but we need to teach their little hearts. She mentioned that she used to discipline out of fear (saying, "Obey or else", but then God reminded her that He does not discipline us out of fear...we obey Him because we love Him. She wanted to teach her children to obey her and her husband because they love her. I started using her principles which is teaching my daughters what God's Word says about their behavior and that not only do they need to obey me and Daddy but God as well, etc. My daughter has now been able to memorize some scriptures like: "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God"(Matt 5:9)--I use this one when she tries to argue with her sister or if we see someone arguing, etc. and "Chldren obey your parents in everything for this is pleasing to the Lord(Colossians 3:20)"--this one gets said A LOT during the day. She has also learned: "Do all things wihtout complaining and disputing" (Philippians 2:14)--I use this one when she wines, complains or throws a fit.

Now don't get me wrong, I still use time out, etc...I just mix God's Word in the process as well. After all, as Christian parents we want to teach our children to listen to God's Word and to follow His ways so they will choose to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and that they will walk with Him all the days of their lives!

I was able to teach her these scriptures from using the Creative Correction book as well as a book called "My ABC Bible Verses" by Susan Hunt. It has these small verses the children can memorize and then it has a small story about how a brother and sister named Missy and Bill apply this Bible principle to their lives.

I pray that God gives you revelation on reaching your child and I hope this information blesses you!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I know it's a rough ride...like a roller coaster....being parents; but thus goes raising children. You may not see the results for yourself until your children are grown and have a family of their own. That's when they come back and say, "Now I see....now, I understand!"

It's a struggle but worth every step of the way.

Respect! Treat them with respect from day ONE. Respect their feelings, their ideas, their personal items. They will always have a reason for the things they do...right or wrong. It may not be the right reason...afterall, they are children and interpret things differently than adults. So respect their reasoning and help them see where a better choice could be made. Teach them to accept mistakes as learning experiences....and to move on. Most of all...respect and love the differences in each child and their personalities. Don't ever compare them.

Obedience! Expect the best of them. They don't need critism. Continue to draw the line and give them stiff boundaries. It makes them feel safe and loved. It takes away the stress of peer pressure. Sometimes it's a compliment to be the meanest parent in the world.

Quality Time! This is most important. Sharing. Give and ye shall receive. Board games together are wonderful! Don't let them always have their noses in screens. Tasteful movies together are great...with discussions about the whys and wherefores. Don't preach, though...discuss...listen to their input. Compliment their ideas. Ask their opinions and you'll be surprised at what they will tell you. Then you'll know what YOU need to work on. "Out of the mouths of babes!" They can teach us simplicity.

Set an example! Don't be a hypocrit. Give them a good example to follow. Stand by your word. Follow the Lord's teachings...and no matter where they stray...they will always come back to the way they were raised. Always show them hope in your life and theirs.

Ask for help! On your knees, parent. Eyes lifted to the sky. The Lord doesn't necessarily give you what you want....only what you need. Don't spend time just telling Our Father what you want. Ask HIM to lead you with this gift of life to teach. Ask HIM what HE wants your child to know. Then ask HIM to lead the way.

Laugh often and much! Keep a sense of humor and be thankful for the privilege of equipping this child for life. You don't have to be over-protective. They need to know about life and how to handle the evil they may encounter. But don't frighten them. Offer them coping skills. Show them the way. Show them the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. HE has a sense of humor, too. Just look at yourselves.

As long as there are babies being born, and being loved and respected, there is hope for the world. God Bless and keep you.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I had a series of books for my daughter now 12 (and we still go through this at times). The series was "Help Me Be Good" and it was cartoonish with real issues. It put things in perspective where the child can understand. They had a book for bullies, respect, teasing, whining, etc. You can also check them out at the library.

Sometimes our daughter would see herself in the character and that helped us.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I understand where you are coming from. I have a 12 yr old that has Early Onset Bipolar Disorder and is also ADHD. It seems that he ONLY acts out when he is around those he feels closest to, ie: ME, his dad, and my best friend who is like a member of our family. We see a counselor on a bi-weekly schedule...and lately I was beginning to wonder if anything would help. Thats when she mentioned a book called, "Try and Make Me" by Dr. Ray Levy. ITS INCREDIBLE!! I am the parent that has a full library of every possible book out there regarding his illnesses and behaviour. This book has made SUCH a difference!! I have nearly worn my copy out. It goes with me with me wherever I go. The great thing about this book, is not only does it help the older pre-teen kids, but it can be used for all ages of children. I only wish I would have found it sooner! Hope this helps ya!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My children are not that old yet, but I have read a Christian book I heard about on Focus on the FAmily that I really like. It is called "Don't Make Me Count to Three". I think the author's name is Plowman-- maybe Virginia or Ginnie? Check www.cbd.com and search by title, you will surely find it.

I wanted to follow the concepts in this book but we have been advised that our daughter (3.5) most likely has ADHD and that need to have expectations that she will need frequent reminders. I am having a hard time with that expectation. This book's premise is that children should obey all the way, right away, with a cheerful heart. Sounds like a great thought, doesn't it?
Good luck to you!



answers from Dallas on

I know you mentioned you have read everything but have you tried www.nogreaterjoy.org



answers from Dallas on

I know what you are talking about. Everybody complimenting you how well behaved they are, but at home they are the opposite! One thing I always keep in mind is what I read sometime: "when a kid is well behaved everywhere, but at home is horrible that is a sign the parents are doing a good job. At home the kid feels save and therefore lets himself go." So when he is screaming at you it is because he feels save and loved enough to do this. LOL but it helps me to keep the right perspective.

My oldest can be horrible, but it comes and goes. It's not everyday. With him it has a lot to do with being tired. Now it is summer holiday he is doing much better. Also spending everyday 20 min exclusive with him helps. Like reading a book, or making a craft. (his brothers playing right beside us, but I'm focussing on him)
I don't have an answer. The only thing we do is being very very consequent. If he calls me names, I just grab his arm very firm (I do not hit him, but yes I pinch his arm) and put him in time out for 5 min (he is 5 1/2 years old). I put him in the little room with the washer and dryer with the door closed. After 5 min I go talk with him, if he still is kicking the door etc. he gets an other 5 min. Later in the day we always make friends again, he really hates it when I am mad at him. (not at the time he is mad too, but afterwards)
Now, my second one is a different story. He doesn't give me trouble so often, but when he does punishing him doesn't seem to affect him. When I put him next to the washing machine, he just goes playing with a button he finds on the floor. When I tell him he doesn't get a snack later if he doesn't finish his plate, he just says "alright" and still doesn't finish his plate. And when his brothers get a snack and he doesn't, he doesn't cry or something. Punishment just slides from his back and doesn't stick (or so it seems).
I still don't know what is better. The oldest who can be terrible and really hurts my feelings sometimes but later that day we can talk about it and reason about his behavior and make friends again. Or the second one who has not very often a bad mood, but nothing can punish him.

Keep on being consequent, make clear that his behavior is not acceptable, keep on loving him, and keep reminding yourself he feels save with you or he wouldn't behave like this only with you, and spend one on one time with him.

Try to find out if it is always at the same time (afternoon, tired??) or after playing with a neighbor (copying behavior) or if something else triggers it (hunger????)

I know it is hard, and I too think : "what if he turns 10 years old???". I don't know. Good luck, we are on the same boat.




answers from Dallas on


My friend is in your situation and she has had 100% success with this book: Shepherding a Child's Heart by Todd Tripp

I have not read it, but I know that my friend raves about how much closer she and her daughter are and how much healthier their relationship is. It is Christian, but from what my friend says some people don't like it because it endorses spanking. She said it is definately written in a candid way and that the book is only effective if the person reading it can do all the things in the book with lots of love and patience.
All the best, Liz



answers from Dallas on

All I'd suggest is to simply drive him crazy with it! The easiest consept for anyone to understand is saying please and thank you. Along the way it teaches them mannors in other areas too. My parents drilled it into our heads, and now when I see children that don't, its odd to me. My daughter can't speak much at all but she can say gracias. (She's been delayed in several things in life so far, she's simply on her own calendar and schedule!) Make it fun, or a contest! They should say please and thank you after everything! Wouldn't you rather hear too much of that then not enough of it. And along the way he'll realize what it is to respect everyone and he'll see the respect he gets back in return. Its just a suggestion, but if YOU make sure to say please and thank you, then they'll pick up on it too. Simple mannors is the easiest way for them to learn allover respect! It was the cool thing to do when I was little. I remember saying it out of habbit and others saying, "oh she's so polite..." who wouldn't like to hear that growing up? Impressions is everything and the best encouragment to a child of any age! Not that I'm perfect by any means...!!!



answers from Dallas on

Who is the author of Help me be good books? Thanks!!



answers from Dallas on

Hi R.,
i know how you feel.. I have a nearly three year old who treats me the same way most of the time... He doen't do it with his dad, just me... I have a 17 year old who was the complete oppisite.. If you get some advice, please pass it this way... LORD knows I need it...lol

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