Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Which Comes First: Immediate Obedience or Asking Questions


A couple of weeks ago, I shared a post titled "Teaching a Child First Time Obedience."  It was pretty straight forward and works amazingly well with "normal" kids.   You begin with lots of practice and reward. 

But what happens when you are raising a future lawyer?  When every request is presented with a question?  And a good question, I might add. 

Suddenly you find yourself in a "mature" conversation with a four-year-old and lose sight of the goal at hand - obedience. 

This is an issue we faced head on with Little Man.  While I believe the majority of the time his questions were innocent and he desired understanding, they could easily become manipulative.

I really struggled with this issue.  Should Little Man be allowed to ask questions before obeying?

Seeking the advice of a mom who has been-there-done-that, she helped me understand that obedience is first but that questions can always follow after.

That became our rule. 

I explained to Little Man that he is welcome to ask any question but only after he has obeyed.  I found that 90% of the time, he forgot he even had a question.  In many ways, we had trained him to automatically ask a question after a command instead of obeying. 

And if the questions still remains, he and I will discuss it after the activities is finished making for a wonderful teachable moment. 

It took a little training and reminders are still needed but this rule has made it so much easier.  And, we are seeing the obedience that is needed. 


  1. I've a 6 and 3 year old that keep fighting every minute and then. I have a real big problem with my 6 yo. She's sometimes clutched her little sister with her nails, light kick/punch. Everytime this happen I will scold her, told her NO, separate them, let the 6 yo whine and threw her tantrum and afterwards explain to her this is not acceptable. However she doesn't seem to "get it" and still persists. It's siblings rivalry to the max. It's driving me crazy. ANy suggestions?

    1. Sibling rivalry is as old as Cain and Abel. Anger and jealousy set in and things go south pretty quick.
      Hitting or pinching another child is an age appropriate behavior for a toddler who doesn't have the words to express the anger. It is not for a six year old who typically is very verbal. I would encourage you to pick up the Kevin Leman book - Have a New Kid by Friday.

      Also, I invite you to join me on Periscope (and later posted on YouTube) for weekly broadcasts where I share parenting and teaching tips and you can ask me specific questions as I talk. Learn more here -

      And see on ABCJLM when the next broadcast will be -


The Our Out-of-Sync Life blog focuses on encouraging women to deepen their spiritual life, simplify daily tasks, and impress Jesus on the children around them.