Obedience--Growing Character

"WILD" IDEAS about Teaching Obedience

March 2010

Hello, Girls!

Are you ready for spring time and spring break? Spring break might be a good time to do some fun activities that teach obedience. Or it might be a good time to reevaluate if you and your kids have slacked off in the complete obedience category. Just last week, I apologized to my girls for not being consistent in training them to obey all the away, right away, and with a happy heart. I really want to teach obedience well since it is fundamental to so many other important areas including our walk with Christ. My girls and I are now working together to get back on track.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you grow obedient children. Click here to see great resources that teach obedience.

Helping You Grow Character in Your Family,

Sarah Holmes

(405) 301-7321


Obedience -

carrying out the instructions of my authorities with the right attitude

Young Definition -

Doing what you are told to do - All the way, right away, and with a happy heart.

(This definition is from Ginger Plowman who wrote "Don't Make Me Count to Three!" (see picture $13.00) and Wise Words for Moms ($5.50). She is an excellent author with the most practical and Biblical ideas on parenting that I have seen. These resources are second to none for teaching obedience from the heart.)

"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord."

- Colossians 3:20

"Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character."

- Robert E. Lee

Celebrating Spring Break Obediently

Our culture today generally views rules, authorities, and boundaries as negatives for our children. They want their children to be "free" to become who they are. Well, we have seen the results of this faulty thinking in many Spring Break activities that young people take part in. I am sure you have heard of the "Girls Gone Wild" videos.

Research has shown, however, that children feel the most secure and the most free when they have boundaries. One study observed children playing on fenced playgrounds compared to unfenced play areas. The children in the unfenced playgrounds played very close to the center of the play area, while the children in the fenced playground were very spread out even right next to the fence.

When we uphold boundaries (fences) for our children, we not only keep them safe, but we also give them freedom to be creative within those boundaries. In this environment they are able to have the most fun. We need to change our natural negative attitude toward the word obedience. Our children pick up on these things. Not only can an obedient heart be fun and freeing (clear conscience), but the Bible promises rich blessings such as joy, success, long life, strength, courage, and prosperity as a result. (Joshua 1: 8-9; Eph. 6:1)

"Biblical principles must be in our hearts. We are to guide our lives by God's precepts and to give Him joyful obedience. God wants us to have the richest, fullest life possible. This is a truth we should be sharing often with our children. We must believe that God's wisdom is vastly superior to ours, and that we could never improve on his instructions." (How to Have Kids with Character, Even if Your Kids are Characters by Nadine M. Brown)

Family Tradition Ideas -

Spring Break is a great time for family time.

1. Mystery Adventure -

Goo and Dan Newman of Littleton, Massachusetts and their three kids greatly enjoy this family tradition that they created. About once a month, they surprise the kids with a "mystery ride" - an outing to a fun but usually low or no-cost spot kept secret along the way. To come up with initial ideas to get started they asked their kids to make a list of places they enjoy going, and they scanned local listings for upcoming events. Their 12,9, and 8 year old children love the excitement and suspense.

2. Experience Spring Time - You can go on a picnic, bike-ride, hike, nature walk or scavenger hunt in the park. Fly a kite, collect bugs, make mud pies (equal parts water, dirt, and flour), or go on a weekend camping trip, etc.. We spend way too much time indoors and in the city these days. Go somewhere where your children can observe spring taking place. Talk about how God's creation is truly amazing. Find a favorite spot and go there year after year, or make it a family tradition to come up with a new and amazing nature adventure each year. (You can go to familyfun.com and search for scavenger hunts for some great ideas.)

3. Celebrate St. Patrick's Day on March 17th with a Family Dinner - St. Patrick was a very good example of someone who displayed self-control despite his circumstances.

a. Go crazy with green table decorations.

b. Have everyone wear green.

c. Make fun food-

i. Let everyone help plan and prepare all green food (broccoli, pesto, pickles, salad, etc.. or get creative with the food coloring).

ii. Make a rainbow using different colored fruit (strawberries, blueberries, bananas, etc.) Then use marshmallows to make a cloud under one side and banana slices in a cup for gold under the other side.

d. Watch the Veggie Tales short video on St. Patrick (It is one of the extra short videos on the Sumo of the Opera DVD)

e. Talk about the Christian history of St. Patrick's Day. - St. Patrick was born in a Christian home in Britain, but while he was a teenager, he was kidnapped and sold as a slave in Ireland. Though he was lonely and frightened in Ireland, for six years he prayed for help. He wrote, "I used to get up for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain..." After he escaped from slavery, he decided that God wanted him to become a priest so that he could go back to Ireland and tell them about Christ. That is just what He did. He built churches all over Ireland, influencing many people for Christ, as well as provided many schools so that the common people could learn how to read. Read more about him in St. Patrick's Day by Gail Gibbons or St. Patrick's Day by Mary Cantwell.

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." - Joshua (in the Bible)

Obedient Crafts

1. Make happy hearts - Draw and cut out little hearts from red construction paper. Then draw silly happy faces on them. Explain that when we obey all the way, right away, and with a happy heart; this makes God happy, Mom happy, and makes life easier for everyone.

2. Make a stop light- Use these to explain how we have to obey road signs for our safety, just like we obey Mom and Dad for our safety as well. You can use these to play red light/ green light.

a. Easy version - Cut out one red and one green circle (the same size) out of construction paper and glue them on opposite sides of a Popsicle stick.

b. More difficult version - Cut a piece of black construction paper in half longwise (so that you have 2 tall and skinny pieces.) Glue these together onto something sturdy that you can hold up like a paint stirring stick.Cut out one red circle from construction paper for one side and one green circle for the other side, so that these will be brighter and easier to see than the other "lights" on the stop light. Use a crayon to color the other circles (the red and yellow circle on the side with green light, and the green and yellow circle on the side with the red light).

3. Hide God's Word in Your Heart (Psalm 119:11)

Make three identical sized large hearts - two out of red construction paper and one out of white. Then cut one red heart so that it has two flaps that open like doors. Glue the white heart between the two red hearts being careful not to glue the doors shut. Open the flaps and write the verse "I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You" Now you have hidden God's word in your heart. Discuss what this means.

4. Make garlands or necklaces - Proverbs 1:8-10

"Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

"Obedience is the mother of success and is wedded to safety." - Aeschylius

Obedient Games and Activities

This Puzzle book - Obedience Bible Story Puzzles - (see picture) is packed full of fun activities, mazes, games, mini-lessons, Bible verses, and more ($5.50)

1. Classics - These simple games teach about obeying authority.

a. Mother May I?

b. Simon Says

c. Red light/ Green light (use the stop light you made in the craft section)

2. Freeze game - This freestyle made-up game teaches your children to obey you right away and completely. Basically, all you do is go outside and give your children different crazy commands like walk backward while holding your nose. Then when you want them to stop doing whatever you told them, you say "Freeze". You can eliminate people by making whoever moves first sit out for the next command, but small children enjoy this game more when no one is eliminated.

a. *** Special Note - This game teaches kids to obey right away. I have found teaching your kids the word freeze (see above game) has been very useful, and could solve many safety issues in parking lots or other dangerous places. They may not hear us when we say stop or don't do that (since I tend to overuse these phrases.) However, when I say freeze, they know exactly what I mean, and it is kind of fun to obey this command.

3. Follow the Shepherd -( A Biblical twist on Follow the Leader) John 10:27 says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me." Play regular Follow the Leader, but the kids can pretend they are sheep and you are the shepherd. Sometimes you can have them close their eyes and just follow your voice. (This gets a little crazy. Use caution) Also, sometimes you can just tell them directions of things to do instead of showing them.

4. Happy Heart Chart (Positive Reinforcement) - Draw a happy face on a very large heart cut out of construction paper. Write on it, "Obey with a Happy Heart". Every time one of your children obeys with happy heart, let him put a heart on the heart chart. You can use some of the happy hearts that you made in the above craft section, buy heart stickers, or just draw hearts. When they fill the heart chart up, give them a special reward.

"Obedience is the fruit of Faith." - Christina Rosetti

Obedient Family Fun Night Ideas

This new section is for those of you who would really like to schedule a regular family fun night because you desire to build character as well as family relationships. I hope the ideas below spark some fun. Soon your kids will be asking, "When do we get to have another family fun night?" Here are some elements that you might want to include regularly: Bible verse, craft, food, game or activity, object lesson or story (tell one, read one, watch one, or even act one out), and discussion and/or share time.

Dog Day - Dogs are a great tool to teach about obedience, because almost all children love dogs. If you do not teach a dog some basic obedience, he is not very pleasant to be around. He could bite or jump up on small children, or pee on everything in sight. Have fun using training dogs as an example for your children to learn obedience.

1. Dinner - Hotdogs

2. Craft - Print off some dog coloring pages (this site has sheets of Clifford and his friends http://pbskids.org/clifford/printables/index-sub02.html). Then have your kids follow your directions (obey) how to color the picture. Tell them to color certain areas different colors, or put different patterns like stripes or stars in certain areas. An important part of obedience is learning to follow directions with a good attitude.

3. Game Options - "Doggy, Doggy Where is Your Bone?" This is a simple preschool game. The person in charge picks one person to be the "dog". The dog gets a pretend bone (a toy of some kind - bean bag, toilet paper roll, etc.) and goes to the front of the room and turns his back to everyone else. The teacher then picks someone else to sneakily steal the bone and put it behind their back. Everyone chants, "Doggy,Doggy where is your bone. Somebody has stole it from your home." The dog turns around and tries to guess who stole his bone. One person is in charge, and everyone else has to obey that person and go with who they pick to be the dog and to steal the bone. The hard part is obeying without complaining, if you think one person is getting picked more than others.

4. Book - Clifford Goes to Obedience School, Lassie Stories, etc.

5. Outing -Take the kids to a dog training facility, or to a class at the local pet store (it is usually free to watch). Talk about how to teach obedience, and why obedience is important.

6. Song - The Adventures of Sir Bernard the Good Knight by Steve Green ($10.50) This musical story is about a dog who learns to have the character of a knight including obedience. There is one song about Little Dog Disobeying.

7. Movie - Lady and the Tramp, Clifford Saves the Day DVD($10.50), or any Lassie reruns

"When can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down." - Robert Benchley

Obedient Songs

1. Children's Classics

a. "O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E" is the very best way to show that you believe

b. "This is my Commandment that you Love One Another"

c. Songs about Obedient People

i. "Father Abraham" (good because it teaches one to follow directions)

ii. "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho"

iii. Noah - "Who Built the Ark?" and "Noah's Arky Arky"

2. Hymn - Trust and Obey

3. Hide Them in Your Heart by Steve Green (CD/DVD set $15.50) This excellent set of Scripture set to music has a wonderful song from Eph. 6:1 entitled "Children Obey Your Parents".

" I don't see success as the goal. Obedience is the goal. "

-Jerry B. Jenkins

Obedient Object Lessons

The idea below came from Building Christian Character ($15.50 see picture) This activity/Sunday school planning book promotes Christian values through crafts, Bible stories, puzzles, etc. Units include obedience, truthfulness, self-control, kindness, and many more.

1. Looks Can Be Deceiving - Make two identical small batches of cookies following the recipe exactly, except in one batch substitute the sugar with salt. These two batches of cookies will look alike but taste very different. Let your kids try both. This teaches that we need to obey God completely just like we need to follow the directions of the recipe completely. One small change in the recipe makes a big difference in the cookies.

2. Beans in the Bathtub- Parents make rules because they love their children and want to keep them safe. Obedience keeps children in the proper relationship to parents and other authorities that can keep them safe. Use a water hose and an umbrella (Outside) to demonstrate how obeying keeps you safe (under the umbrella), protected from things that can hurt you (water). If you can't go outside or you don't want to get wet, use dried beans as your water substitute in a place that is easy to sweep like the bathtub.

3. Parachute People - The same lesson as above can be learned from a person in a parachute. (Make your own example with a tiny plastic army man (or a pipe cleaner man), a handkerchief, and some string) No skydiver would jump from a plane without his parachute. In the same way, no child should be allowed to plummet through life without the guidance of appropriate authorities. (This idea came from Character First's Teacher's Guide on Obedience.)

"Obedience is affirming the truth that God gives direction and provision through those whom He has placed over our lives." - The Power of True Success

Obedient Conversations

1. Personal Evaluation: Do you have trouble being obedient?

a. Do you obey all the way, right away, and with a happy heart?

Which one of these do you have the most trouble with and why?

b. Do you always ask "Why?" when you are told to do something?

c. Do you make excuses for not obeying?

d. Do you have to be reminded often of your task?

e. Do you complain or have a bad attitude while following directions?

f. Do you have trouble following directions exactly?

g. Do you get distracted easily from your task?

(from the Power of True Success)

2. Conversation Starters:

a. What is the difference in the type of obedience Christians are supposed to have (obey what God says is true and right) and blind obedience (doing whatever you are told)?

b. Make a diagram of the chain of command of authorities in our lives to help kids understand we are all under God and our parents authorities.

c. Make a list of all the authorities in our lives - bosses, teachers, etc. and talk about ways you can show them respect and obey them better.

d. Think of a recent situation when you had trouble obeying and talk about why it was difficult and ways you could overcome temptation.

e. Why do you think some people think of rules as a bad thing? How can rules help us?

g. What ways do you have the most trouble obeying - Right away, all the way, or with a happy heart? and why?

3. Prayer -

a. Share Prayer - Have a family share time about how or where you have trouble being obedient so you can pray for each other.
b. Example Prayer - Below is a prayer you can pray for your child (and yourself) for a more obedient heart. Remember, "the prayers of a righteous man availeth much."

"Father, please grant __________ the strength to withstand the temptations of others to willfully disobey You and Your Word--no matter how insistent others (including Satan) may be in trying to persuade him to compromise or disobey. Lord, support ______________ so he remains firm in his obedience to You.

Yet, Father, I also thank you for your mercy even when we disobey. I ask that ____________ would see clearly when he is wrong and disobedient to You and would be quick to seek forgiveness. Show him the way to worship You with true enthusiasm and not turn his back on You in any way."

(While they Were Sleeping, 12 Character Traits for Moms to Pray by Anne Arkins and Gary Harrell ($10.50)

"I know the power obedience has of making things easy which seam impossible."

-Saint Teresa

Obedient Stories and Resources

Make sure you check out all the great resources that teach obedience on my website.

1. Short Story - Be Sure Your Disobedience will Find You Out.

(This short story by Lisa Whelchel came from one of my very, very favorite parenting books - Creative Correction (see picture $14.50). I love Lisa's practical and creative ideas. Her book includes numerous fun parenting tools - games, short stories, object lessons, and Scripture - to use with different behavior problems all indexed and easy to reference.)

"Bradley wanted to become a professional hockey player. So every day after school during the winter, he would head straight for frozen William Hill pond, where he would skate and daydream until dinnertime. One morning his mother told him to come straight home from school because spring was approaching and the ice on the pond would start to melt.

That afternoon after school, Bradley had every intention of obeying his mother, but as he passed the pond, he couldn't resist taking one last lap on the ice. He pulled his skates from his backpack, and after putting them on, he tiptoed onto the ice and slowly made his way to the middle of the pond. "This pond is just fine. Mom wouldn't mind me being here if she knew how thick the ice still is," he rationalized.

Bradley continued to skate after school for the rest of the week. But then one day, just as he was telling himself that his mother didn't know as much about skating ponds as he did, the ice began to crack. Petrified, he raced for the edge. But he was too far from the shore. His foot broke through, and icy water filled his skate. Stumbling forward, Bradley fell headfirst onto a sheet of ice and was struck unconscious.

Fortunately, Mr. Hill, the owner of the property, was watching from inside the house. When he saw the ice break under Bradley, he raced outside and pulled the boy to safety.

Later, Bradley woke up in front of Mr. Hill's fireplace. He had a large knot on his forehead and a numb foot - other than that, he was okay. Bradley was lucky. Not only did he survive almost certain death, but he also learned a valuable lesson about obedience. You may be able to get away with something for a while, but you can be sure that your sins will find you out (see Numbers 32:23).

2. My favorite Multimedia items. They are each $9.50:

i. Veggie Tales - Joshua and the Big Wall

ii. Character Builders - Volume 1

iii. Adventures of Sir Bernard - the Good Knight by Steve Green

3. A few of my favorite literature books that I sell:

a. Don't Do that Dexter a Happy Day book by Jodee McConnaughhay ($2.50) from Standard Publishing. This is a simple rhyme with a simple message of obedience complete with repetitive Bible Verse Ephesians. 6:1 (ages 2-5)

b. Obeying God at Jericho - a Happy Day book by Diane Stortz ($2.50) This gives a very clear message about obeying God even if he asks you to do "odd" things. (ages 2-7).

c. First Virtues for Toddlers- by Mary Simon ($14.40) This is a compilation of a series of 12 books in one volume! Piglet, Duckling, Squirrel, and all the other animals help toddlers learn godly character. Each story focuses on a different virtue and a different animal, which helps little ones to understand and remember what they've learned including obedience. (Ages 1 - 6).

4. Other Good Books - There are an abundance of books that you can use to teach obedience available online or at the library. I have listed just a few as suggestions.
a. Picture Books -

i. Sir Maggie the Mighty, A Book about Obedience

by Michael P. Waite (out of print, but available on Amazon)

ii. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

iii. The Cat in the Hat (disobedience) by Dr. Seuss

b. Chapter Books -

i. A Hive of Busy Bees by Effie Williams and Others

- Chapter titled The Best Bee of All.

ii. Little House in the Big Woods - Chapter about the Big Bear

5. Obedient Bible Stories:

a. Hezekiah - II Kings 18:1-8

b. Naaman - II Kings 5 (This is one of my favorites because proud Naaman learns that true obedience is when you can obey even in the small areas without complaining even when you don't understand or agree.)

c Daniel - Daniel 1: 8-21

d. Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego - Daniel 3

Obedient Scripture Training (NIV)

1.Correct ways to obey:
a. Right Away - Psalm 119:60 "I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands."
b. All the Way - Psalm 119: 4 "You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed."
c. With a Happy Heart -
1) Without Complaining. Phil. 2:12-16 "...Do everything without complaining and arguing..."
2.) Wholeheartedly and with a good attitude- Deut. 13:13, I Samuel 16:7b
2. Why we should obey:
a. Show our love for God - John 14:15
i. I John 5:3 "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And His commands are not burdensome."
ii. John 14:21 -"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father; and I, too, will love him and show myself to Him."

b. Jesus obeyed God as our example and to pay for our sin - Romans 5:19 "For just as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous."

c. It is commanded. - Deut. 4, Prov. 1: 8-9

d. Because your sins will find you out - Numbers 32:23

e. Rebellion is taken as seriously as witchcraft. - I Samuel 15:22-23
f. We represent Christ in our reputation - Prov. 20:11 - " Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right."

3. Who/what you should obey:
a. God rather than man. Acts 5:29, "Peter and the other apostles replied: 'We must obey God rather than men!"

b. The Bible/ The Ten Commandments and additional decrees. Deut.5 - 6:24, Deut. 11:1, "Love the Lord your God and keep His requirements, His decrees, his laws and commands always."

c. Your Parents.
1.) Ephesians 6: 1-3, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother - which is the first commandment with a promise- that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on earth."

2.) Proverbs 1: 8-10 -"Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck."

d. Your Leaders - Hebrews 13: 17 "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."

e. Governing Authorities - Titus 3:1, Romans 13: 1-5 "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established...."

4. How we learn to and find the power to obey:

a. Meditate on the Word of God - Joshua 1:8-9, Psalm 119:11 " I have hidden your work in my heart that I might not sin against thee."

b. Wholeheartedly follow God's teaching - Romans 6:15 - 23

c. Parent training and discipline - Prov. 22:6 & 15

5. Results of obedience:

a. You become pure and your love for others grows through the power of Jesus. I Peter 1:21 - 22 "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart."

b. Blessings instead of curses- Deut. 11:26 - 28, Deut. 28

c. God's love and presence - John 14:21 (see above)

Biblical Character Examples of Obedience:
a. Christ - Romans 5:19
b. Noah - Genesis 6:22
c. Joshua - Joshua 6: 1-20
d. Hezekiah - II Kings 18: 1-8
e. Daniel and his friends - Daniel 1:8-21 and Daniel 3
f. Paul - Acts 26:19

"Obedience to God's will is the secret of spiritual knowledge and insight. It is not willingness to know, but willingness to do God's will that brings certainty." - Eric Liddell

Obedient End Notes for Moms:

I have found that one of the best ways to get my kids to obey me more is to stop talking so much! Seriously!
So I am going to start right now. Instead of giving you my two-cents worth about obedience like I usually do in this section, I am going to give you some of my favorite quotes and info about obedience from one of my favorite parenting books - Creative Correction (see picture $14.50). I am going to let Lisa Whelchel (also known as Blaire from the TV show Fact of Life) do my talking for me this time. Enjoy.
"We must take a two-step approach to parenting. We must teach the heart as well as discipline the flesh. While it is important that our children learn to follow our instruction, they must also understand the reason behind our restrictions and standards so that when they get older, they may choose, by an act of will, to obey. This is the heart of real obedience."

There needs to be a balance between being too legalistic and too lineant. It takes time and effort to explain to them why they are being corrected, examine the true reasons for their behavior, and talk about how they should do things properly in the future, rather than simply doling out punishment. However, it is worth it to raise kids who learn to do the right things for the right reasons. Also, with our help, they can learn at a fairly early age to identify wrongful motives and then lead them in prayer as they ask the Lord to change their hearts.

"Our objective as parents should be to gradually progress from motivating our children externally--correcting the flesh, or their actions--to motivating them internally, inspiring their hearts. "

"If we do not discipline them when they are young, they will have a difficult time disciplining themselves when they are older."

"I have thought about it a great deal, and the more I think, the more certain I am that obedience is the gateway through which knowledge, yes, and love, too, enter the mind of a child." - Anne Sullivan

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Contact Information

I hope you have fun growing character as a family!

Feel free to contact me anytime with character questions.

I want to know how I can serve you better.

(405)301-7321 or WildflowersCR@gmail.com