Ways to Develop Obedience with Kids: Snapshot of Parenting with Purpose

Many years ago I was introduced to the Family Virtues Guide. Since then I’ve done my best to implement virtues into my daily life and into my work (I’ve been an ESL teacher for over 10 years). It was always interesting to see the change in students as they learned about virtues and slowly transformed and improved.

When I had our first daughter and she was growing up, I started feeling at some points that my methods are failing: 2s and 3s arrived and close to 4 and with the birth of a new baby (whom she loves dearly and helps take care of!) my girl was getting more and more impatient, disobedient and more.
So we’ve been working on a virtue called Obedience. As Baha’is we believe that Obedience is a sign of Love and that we show obedience to our parents and teachers in order to show our love and appreciation for them. We would go over and over examples, verses and talk again and again with our daughter about obedience. She would nod, participate in a discussion and next moment you know – she ignores and doesn’t listen again.
My husband was at the time listening inspirational talks by Tom Price and in one of his talks he mentioned telling stories at the end of the day to his daughter about turtles. And everything that happened to the turtles was exactly what happened to his daughter during the day. So, we decided to try. That day our daughter climbed a table at the kindergarten, wouldn’t get off it and when jumped off, she fell down and hurt herself. At home I first talked to her about what happened and asked her to tell me whether she knew why it happened. And that same night I told her the story of a turtle who wasn’t obedient. The moral of the story was that through love shown the turtle and through turtle’s experience, little turtle learned how important it is to listen to the teachers. My daughter was very impressed with the story and she told me that the turtle was just like her.
The next day she did better at her kindergarten. And every day since then she's been doing better and better.
I don’t know if this is the fact that she fell off the table or the stories that we tell her, but she’s been working hard on the virtue of obedience.

It is important for us as parents to put ourselves into our children’s shoes sometimes and reflect upon their experiences. Children should understand that they are not alone in this painful process called physical and emotional growth and no matter what – we love them and are there for them. Instead of overreacting it is good to stop, take a deep breath and try a very different approach. Something will eventually work. Or perhaps the result we expect will come just because we kept trying over and over again – just as we do with everything in order to achieve what we wish for in our lives!
Little ArtistsVarya blogs at Little Artists about creativity development in children.  She a mother of 2 beautiful girls, an ESL teacher, a Montessori teacher and a dance teacher.She enjoys music, cooking, writing and singing. She believes everyone is born with talents and capacities and it is up to parents and educators to seek them out and nurture them.

Kim's "Spin On It"
Thank you so much Varya for sharing with us!  Obedience is a virtue that many parents struggle with on a daily basis.  Even on our site the most viewed post from 2012 was Tips of Parenting a Strong Willed Child.  I imagine many other would also benefit from reading Raising an Overly Active Child too.  I am so impressed that by telling a story using the details from your daughter's experience through the eyes of another character, a turtle, has helped her to reflect on her own behavior and take action.  It's such a great tip I told my husband immediately about it to pick an animal that my daughter would be drawn to so that they too could share some bedtime stories together as they reflected on her day at school and at home.  

Once I begin to think about it it made me realize how much our children can simple learn from stories as we read them with them.  Think of all the traditional books your parents read to you as a child.  Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Gingerbread Man, The Fisherman's Wife, The Little Red Hen, and Three Billy Goats Gruff.  What virtues did you learn from those stories?  Are the words Honesty, Determination, Respect, Trust are coming to mind?  Imagine if they were stories that your own parents created for you.  Would you have paid closer attention?  

Here are some virtues that I try to find books about as I help my children to learn about virtues.  

  • Compassion - Knowing that someone needs help, and wanting to help them.
  • Respect - Treating others with courtesy and consideration, following rules and deferring to authority.
  • Enthusiasm - Seeing what is good in a person or situation, and focusing on things that make you happy.
  • Trust - Believing that the right thing will happen, and that people will do what they say they will.
  • Friendliness - Being interested in other people
  • Determination - Taking one step at a time until you reach your goal. Doing something you want to even if it is really hard.
  • Responsibility - Others can count on you
  • Integrity - Doing what you know is right, and showing the virtues that are important to you.
  • Cooperation - Working with others
  • Thankfulness - Seeing what you have and being grateful, instead of missing what you don’t have.

Are you looking for inspiration during your story time for goals for your child?  Here's a List of Virtues .  Keep watching for more LOVE BOOKS Activities that we share to teach Virtues!  Here are some of my favorite Classic Tale Collections that I read with my children to work on virtues together.  What books are your favorite to use? 
What Virtue are you working on with your child?
Email us and share your own Parenting Success Story!
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Raising a Happy Child said...

Interesting post. We are working on a few values here - caring, responsibility, independence and persistence. I plan a post on it next week.

Jenny K said...

This is timely, cause we are having a struggle with obedience right now too. My little guy is 3 1/2. I think I'll try the turtle story to see how it works with him.

I bought the Family Virtues Guide as well, although I haven't been able to read all the way through yet. Right now we are using the We Choose Virtues cards as a way to bring up a discussion about the virtues and to help introduce our little boy to these ideas.

Varya @ Little Artists said...

I would love to read your post!

Varya @ Little Artists said...

I wrote a very long reply and it didn't post! Jenny, Family Virtues Guide is really worth exploring. It is easily adaptable to any family and it has great suggestions and tips on how to make the implementation better. I will check out We Choose Virtues cards, thank you!

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