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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

How Do You Ensure Prompt and Cheerful Obedience in Your Children?


Setting clear expectations for a child’s behavior is part of the advice from experienced homeschooling moms. But ensuring obedience requires more.

Do All Tasks with a Grateful Heart…


Let me be completely honest; I don’t know the magic formula for getting children to respond always with prompt, cheerful obedience. However, I know there are definite steps to lead children in the right direction. First and foremost, parents need to lead by example. When I complete my chores promptly and cheerfully, I lay the foundation for my household. For example, I make my bed every morning, throw in the laundry, and tidy up the living room couches.

I do all those tasks with a grateful heart because I recognize that clean, well-organized spaces benefit all of us. My children don’t all follow my lead every day, but they understand my expectations based on my example, so they more readily complete their chores when asked. Of course, good results don’t always follow good examples, so parents need to set clear expectations and back those expectations up with consequences. And then follow through on enacting those consequences without debate or drama.

Conversely, if your child knows she has 50 chances to clean her room this week before you make good on your threat to take away a privilege, then she is likely to wait until your 49th command to pick up her bedroom. And if it takes 49 reminders to get her moving, no one is likely cheerful in the household—prompt, joyful obedience results from clear, consistent, long-term parenting. First, we teach by example, and then by established rules.

Tara Brelinsky, North Carolina

Build the Habit of Obeying…

First of all, I keep in mind “discipline” means “to teach,” not “to punish.” Second, I think of how Our Lord lived and interacted with and taught His disciples.

With my children, I focus on the relationship. If I take the time to develop a rapport with each child, if each child knows for a fact I come from a place of love and genuine concern and that I have a reason for all I ask them to do, they are FAR more likely to respond in kind than if I approach them as a drill sergeant barking out orders.

This being said, my kids are older now; my youngest is eight. When they were toddlers and would not listen, say, would not clean up their toys, I would absolutely do hand-over-hand and MAKE them clean up. If they did disobey, I really tried (and still do!) to have logical consequences. If I ask them to put their bike away and they don’t, I don’t do it for them. And then they must deal with a wet and rusty bike.

Another thing I did was “catch” them being good. Everyone had ten little magnets across the fridge. When I “caught” them obeying with a good attitude or helping their sibling without being asked, I would give them a magnet.

When they filled their chart with magnets, they got a date with me, an ice cream, or a special treat. The idea was to get them to build the habit of obeying and other virtues.

Kristin Brown, Virginia

We Reap the Behavior that We Sow…

Obedience is an essential virtue to instill in children, so we begin from the time they are walking on their own. I have always been a present and attentive mother to their needs and their formation.

Bad behavior is not tolerated and is dealt with immediately and in a way that they will understand based on their age.

As for being cheerful, that falls onto the parent to show the children cheer when they are doing chores, which may not be fun. Mom does not give her children a bad example of behavior because children will imitate what they see.

Also, we do not let our children watch TV other than previewed movies. We will not let them watch anything that undermines the parental authority or shows bad attitudes or disobedience from children where there are no just consequences.

Children learn bad behavior, and I think we have done a very good job of setting clear expectations, giving good examples, and eliminating bad examples.

Susan Brock, Virginia

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