Use Drills To Teach Obedience

Our children must learn obedience. Plain and simple.
We take this directive from God’s Word:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
–Ephesians 6:1

“Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.”
–Colossians 3:20

How? After they know what to do, then we drill it into them!

First, we teach our children that true obedience is:

  • Quick — right away, don’t dawdle
  • Cheerful — no complaining or whining
  • Complete — do the task thoroughly and with excellence

After this, we love to snap into drill sergeant mode, and start barking out orders:

  • Tabitha, pick up that sock and put it away.
  • Jonathan, go close the cabinet door.
  • Deborah, go feed the dogs.
  • Samuel, straighten up those books.
  • Nathaniel, go wipe that counter.
  • Elizabeth, brush your hair.
  • Esther, tidy the piano books.
  • Miriam, put away your blanket.
  • Sarah, sit under the table and be cute.

Wait a second – what was that last one?  Our children are usually smiling at this point – because they know what’s coming.  We play a game where they have to be very quiet and pay attention to our orders – we will only say them once and they’d better snap to it, no matter how silly they seem.

  • Turn around in circles without falling down.
  • Everybody lie down, now!
  • Go to the back door, come back, and sit down.
  • Squeeze under that table there.
  • Bray like a donkey.
  • Make the funniest face you can and then freeze.

We make these up as we go along.  Our children love to play “Obedience Drills” and they groan when we have to stop.  These are also useful when we have a situation of disobedience in the home.  After reproof and correction, we will give the child another real task to perform.  Then we will give a few fun orders — the lesson is reinforced and everyone is happy (most of the time – we have those days, too).

I don’t remember where we first heard the idea of doing simple drills for obedience, but it was definitely reinforced by my husband’s military background in the Navy.  Drills, drills, drills, he said, were so common, and often tiresome and boring.  BUT – when the time came for “battle stations” – every man knew what to do, where to go, and did it quickly because of all the practice they’d done beforehand.  My husband even developed our “Sound OFF” routine to make sure we do not lose children when we are away from home.

Teaching our children what we expect, and then drilling them to make it a habit, definitely falls into the works for me category!  We have a lot of funny moments while we’re at it, too.

Participating in:
Works For Me Wednesday

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8 comments to Use Drills To Teach Obedience

  • Kim M

    I just found your blog.. love it!

  • What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Mary

    I love this idea and I am stealing it! 🙂

  • That sounds like fun. We have done some training drills too but not quite like that.

  • Yup, we did this with our kids, too!

  • so love this! I will be trying it out tonight… but do you only do it when you see disobedience or do you do it when there are chores to be done?

    • Cardamom

      Ideally, we do these drill times as a separate training exercise for about 15 minutes or so – sometimes several times a day, especially with our younger children – and we try to keep it strict, yet fun. We have noticed that when we do this, then overall obedience tends to go more smoothly. When disobedience happens, we just take a couple minutes with one child to correct and instruct, then to run them through a few commands to re-instill the obedience habit. With chores, we strive to teach our older children to do them without having to be told every single step, and I like to use charts for youngers that they can follow easily until steps are memorized. However, there are times where we snap into drill sergeant mode when surprise guests are coming in 15 minutes and the house needs a fast pickup! 🙂 Remember, though, that all of this does not take the place of diligent instruction, and praying for God to give our children obedient hearts. These drills are merely what we use as a supplement.

  • Eliza

    Thanks for this tip, I like your simple poster idea, I am going to try implementing this idea with my homeschooled son. Will be interesting to see how we go!

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