Mom is busy with something and not concentrating on her children, yet she sees misbehavior out of the corner of her eye. Without thinking about it and without even looking up, she says, “Lucas, get down from there.” (Lucas has started climbing everything lately.)
I bet you can guess what happens next. Yes, the child ignores what mom said. She didn’t say it with much conviction, nor did she call his name or get eye contact first. And since mom is so busy, she doesn’t always realize what’s happening until later, if at all. She ignores herself doesn’t follow through.
Lucas was kind enough to test this theory out on me just as I write this. We are sitting outside on the deck, in our flimsy outdoor chairs, and Lucas stood up. Yes, the little monkey is standing on and climbing on everything. You’d think he’s two! Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him stand up, and looked him in the eye as I told him to sit down. He immediately squatted down as if he was going to sit. Trusting that he was going to sit, I looked back at the computer. What did he do the minute my eyes went back to the screen? He stood back up! We did this two or three times before he decided to obey and stay seated.
When we speak to our children this way, we pretty much give them the freedom to ignore us. If we ignore ourselves, why shouldn’t our children ignore us? Try to catch yourself whenever this happens. Before you become engrossed in whatever you’re doing, whether it’s cooking, dishes, or working on the computer, make sure the kids are occupied doing something else. Turning on the TV or having an extra session of roomtime is better than saying something you shouldn’t or ignoring them completely.
“When you speak to your child in a way that requires an answer or an action, you should expect an immediate and complete response. This principle speaks to the parents’ level of expectation. Children will rise to whatever level is expected and encouraged. Too many parents expect little and receive exactly that,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 125).
If obedience is your goal, always make sure you say what you mean and mean what you say. Never utter a word unless you are prepared to follow through. Recognize your moments of deep concentration, and either be prepared to follow through on what you say, or change the situation so you won’t have to correct your child.