Obedient Children

The following statement is true:

A child’s natural response to the proper presentation of authority is obedience.

The following statement is also true:

Most of today’s parents—I’d estimate over 90 percent—do not act like authority figures.

Children do what they’re told. Therefore, if your child is not doing what you think you are telling him to do, the only logical conclusion to draw is that you are not telling him to do anything. Instead, you are doing what most parents do these days: pleading, bargaining, bribing, cajoling, reasoning, and explaining. That sort of approach invites complaining, arguing, and disobedience.

To get your child to do what you tell him/her to do, you must follow the simple art of telling:

First, and contrary to the advice given by most parenting pundits, deliver instructions from a fully upright position. Do not bend over, grab your knees, and “get down to the child’s level.” That is a pleading posture and as a result, one’s voice takes on a pleading character.

Second, use the fewest words possible. The more concise the instruction, the more authoritative it sounds. So, if you want a child to pick up his toys, simply say, “I want you to pick up your toys now and put them where they belong.”

Third, do not explain yourself. Explanations invite resistance. They stimulate argument.

Fourth, if a child asks for an explanation, say, “Because I said so,” which is simply an affirmation of the legitimacy of your authority.

Fifth, do not end an instruction with the word “okay?” Remember, you are giving direction, not asking your child to consider a suggestion.

Sixth, when you have delivered the instruction, turn around and walk away. Do not stand there, supervising. That, too, invites push-back.

In June of 2013, on the first day of a three-day family conference in South Carolina, I spoke on this very subject. On day two, numerous parents reported to me that this very simple approach was already working.

Right. Re-read the first sentence of this post.

-John Rosemond

(Taken from a John Rosemond Facebook post)


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