Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe. Do you remember that song? We sang it all the time when we were kids. Let me preface this post and say that in no way am I a parenting expert. All of my children are under six so I don't have a ton of experience.
I just thought I would share what has been working well with our children.
I don't know about you but I think the ages of 18 months to 3 years are the toughest as far as obedience goes (but mine aren't teenagers yet). They know they need to obey but they don't exactly understand the concept completely yet.
Teaching 18 months to 3 years:
I learned this fun obedience game from the Duggars first book. I thought it was pretty smart to make it a game. You take some M & M's or something little that your child likes and you tell them you are going to play the obedience game. You need to tell them what you expect before you start.
You are going to give them a task, such as "Go get mommy a ball.", something very simple. They are to acknowledge your request with a Yes mommy or a Yes ma'am or however you want them to respond. They are also to obey right away. When they preform those two things they will get one M & M.
This worked well for my middle child (I need to practice it more with my now 2 year old). It teaches them how to respond to you instead of a yep or okay. I like to hear, "Yes ma'am" or "Yes mommy".
Michelle Duggar goes onto explain that teaching your child to obey your voice (the parent) teaches them to eventually obey God and His commands.
This is something you will have to practice and practice and practice with kids this age. You have to be consistent yourself with requiring them to obey the first time you ask them to do something.
The next phase is 3-6 year olds.
I learned a lot about this from a great book Don't Make Me Count to Three which is a biblically based discipline book. Using Scripture to teach obedience is great and this book uses Scripture throughout.
The author encourages you (the parent) to teach your children a response about obedience. When you are teaching them to obey you ask them, "How are we to obey?" They are to respond, "Right away, All the way, With a happy heart". I use this a lot with my preschooler and 6 year old.
When I ask them to do something and I get a less than obedient response, I pull out the question - how are we to obey? I actually only make them say "Right away with a happy heart". I explain to them that they really aren't obeying if their heart isn't in it. Because obedience really is a heart issue.
We are constantly teaching this. One thing that is reinforcing this is that my son is in karate and they teach the kids to say "Yes Sir or Yes Ma'am" after they tell them to do something. It is just respectful to be acknowledged and I love that. Now my son shouts, "Yes ma'am" when I tell him to do something.
I do give grace to my children. If I tell them something and I do not get a good response I give them a chance to change their behavior. My response to them is "I'm sorry?" Meaning, I'm sorry I must have not heard you correctly because surely you would never speak to your mother like that. So here is your chance to correct it.
Usually, that works. If not we go on to a different discipline. Again, I am not a parenting expert, these are just a few things that have worked for us. It honestly only works if we (as parents) are consistent with teaching them obedience and letting them know what we expect of them.
Obedience is extremely important to God and should be extremely important to us.
Luke 11:28 - "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."
Proverbs 19:16 - He who obeys instructions guards his life, but he who is contemptuous of [God's] ways will die.
1 John 2:3 - We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.
John 14:23 - Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
Oswald Chambers: "The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience."