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Teaching your kids to WANT to listen and behave can be hard.  We all know that parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual.  That’s why it’s wonderful to be able to share ideas and experiences.  I am glad our culture has come a long way from rulers slapped on hands and teaching obedience through fear, that now we can teach through encouragement.   It can be done.   I see it every day.

A child sitting on a stone wall playing an instrument with text beside him.

Here are some positive ways to inspire your children to WANT to obey rules and their parents.

  1. Love your children.  Of course this seems basic, but sometimes it’s all too easy to fall into impatience or to behave unkindly, especially when we are tired.  No fear—apologizing for our own grumpiness is one excellent way to show love to children! Apologizing also demonstrates humility and proper relationships.  Then start fresh with kindness, gentleness, and thoughtfulness.  These attitudes of love will help your children want to obey you.
  2. Listen to your children.  When we listen to our children, we show them that they are important.  In the book Swiss Family Robinson, the parents show an amazing ability to use their children’s ideas, and the children end up helping the family to survive on the island!  When children know they are important to the family, they will be more invested in family harmony.
    listen to your kids
  3. Model good character.  Children do as we do, not as we say.  As children see you treat your spouse or other people with respect and integrity, they will see what you want.  Don’t fall into a habit of hypocrisy.  We all want our children to be better than we are, but holding them to higher standards than we hold ourselves never works.
  4. Offer rewards.  As a good friend of mine pointed out, which of us would go to work if we didn’t get paid?  Even character qualities and good attitudes can be rewarded tangibly.  Many years ago, I read a wonderful book called Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel.  It changed the way I thought about rewarding children, and I gleaned many good ideas that I adapted for our family.  Try out the cotton ball reward system.
  5. Take circumstances into consideration.  If a child is tired after a long day, it may not be a good time to insist on picking up all toys before bed.  Pick your battles, and pick the time/day of your battles also.  They don’t need to learn everything in one month or even one year.  It’s okay to go slowly.


“Children are our greatest resource” may be a cliché, but it’s true!  Sometimes consequences are needed, but love, listening, modeling, rewards, and patience all have their place.   May we grow together in character! 


What are your best parenting ideas?

Today’s post was brought to you by Christa Upton.  I have known Christa a long time, through the online blogging world.  She blogs at Black Hills Picture Books.  You can check out her favorite post called “Amazing True Story”  right here.  You can see her new children’s book, The Cat Race, too!

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. I just love this post. I have a toddler now and it can be difficult to stay patient when he’s not listening, but I keep this number one as my number one: LOVE YOU CHILDREN and it makes it a lot easier! Happy Tuesday!

    1. Yes–great way to boil it all down–love them! Kudos for pushing through the difficulties of being patient, and many happy days to you and your little guy!