It’s so subtle that it really doesn’t feel like disobedience. “One story before bed time,” I say.
“Oh please can we have two!? This one is so short.” I don’t want to be overly rigid, and I do enjoy reading stories so I agree. That single event is not reason for alarm, but as we have been talking about obedience this month my eyes have been opened to the many times throughout the day that my boys choose to negotiate rather than obey. Some real-life examples from this week:
“Breakfast is ready! Come and sit down!”
” Not right now. Hulk and my Army guys are in the middle of a battle.”
“Time to get dressed for the day, go and pick out a pair of shorts and a shirt.”
“I think I’ll just wear my pajamas today. Can you find me some socks?”
“After this show is over, we’re going outside to play!”
” Can’t I just watch one more?! You know, those Rescue Ranger shorts are only four minutes!”
The icing on the cake, however, came on Monday when a babysitter made the comment, “I didn’t know you lived with the “Kings of Negotiating!” Let me tell you what happened at naptime…” That was enough.
As Coco and I brainstormed ways to address the difference between negotiating and obeying, we came up with very elaborate games and activities, but then realized, it’s the end of the school year and everyone is tired (including us) so we went for a simple but effective game!
First, have your child cut a notecard in half.
Then, sneak in a little handwriting practice by having them write the letters N or O on half of a notecard. I had Banks write three of each letter, then we put them in a jar.
Next, we moved inside and all sat in a circle where I explained the rules. When it was their turn, they would choose a card and keep it hidden as I read the prompt. If their card had the letter N, they would negotiate a response to the directions given, but if their card had the letter O, they would obey, remembering to Look, Listen, and Love. It was everyone else’s job to determine if they were negotiating or obeying.
I used the following examples:
- “Can I have a snack, Mom? ” Sure, but since it’s so close to dinner just pick one.
- It’s rest time, pick two books to read in your bed while lying down.
- Please put your shoes where they belong.
- Screen time is over! Choose something else to play or do.
- Ouch! The Legos are all over the floor. Please put them away.
- Don’t forget to take your plate to the sink after you’re finished eating.
- It’s time to come home from playing with the neighbors.
Pick examples that resonate with your children! My boys LOVED this quick game.
Don’t forget to make the point that making deals/negotiating isn’t always bad. Charlie told the boys that he does it everyday at his job. But, just like everything, there is a time and a place for negotiating. One of those places is a Yard Sale. We took our game one step further and each question they responded to correctly, they earned money to use while negotiating at a yard sale the next morning!
Of course there are times we want our children to talk to us when they believe something we have asked is truly unreasonable and to not shy away from challenging questions. But I also want them to learn to obey even when they don’t understand. Isn’t this what God calls us to do, trust and obey?
What areas in life is God calling you to obedience that you are still trying to negotiate?