“Really, Did You Just Do That?!”

By Joey and Carla Link

January 20, 2021

Think for a moment, how many times have you either said these phrases to your kids or thought them?

  • “Please move over so they can get by.”
  • “Can’t you see you are in people’s way?”
  • “Why didn’t you hold the door for those older people?”
  • “Quit running! You almost knocked that person over.”
  • “Watch where you are going!”

 These are common phrases that often roll off a parent’s tongue when they’re exasperated with their children. I (Joey) was in a crowd of people when I saw a 5 year-old child oblivious to people around him as he was messing around. He was about to trip over an adult when his mom yelled, “What are you doing? You almost knocked that person over!”
I would like to say he quit messing around, but he didn’t. He would look at his mom every so often to see if she was paying attention, and when he realized she was more interested in talking to people than keeping track of him he ran wild, encouraging other kids present to follow him.
Out of the corner of his eye, this boy’s dad saw what he was doing and told him to stop, then went to his wife and told her she needed to keep her eye on him. She told her husband that she had told their son to stop running.
Let us ask you a question. How often when you yell at your kids to pay attention to what they are doing do you see them stop and obey? Oh, they may stop and obey until you take your eyes off them, but they are usually up and running again when they think you aren’t paying attention.
Even a child who is usually well-behaved could very well give in to the temptation to run with the other kids. So, what’s a parent to do?

  1. If your child is not characterized by coming to you when you call his/her name with a good attitude 80% of the time, we encourage you to step up your obedience training.
  2. When you tell your child to “Stop!” or give another command or instruction, go over to him and say it directly to him and wait until you get a “Yes Mom.” Have him repeat what it is he thinks you are telling him to do or not do.
  3. Make sure you give your kids a pre-activity warning when you are in the car. Ask them what the family rules are for the setting you are going into. Make sure all your kids can tell you what they are and what they should not do while there.
  4. Take along things for them to do. If you leave them to entertain themselves, they will get into trouble. You can count on it. We always kept a bag in the van with books, color books and crayons, Uno© cards and so forth.

What’s a Pre-Activity Warning? When you are getting ready to go somewhere, before you get there (that’s the pre-activity part) ask your child to explain what the family rules will be once you get there.

  • This works because your child isn’t in trouble, so he is listening to you.
  • It won’t work if you haven’t already explained the rules to him. Having “Store Rules” would be a good example of this.
  1. You can give all your kids the instruction or rules at the same time, but work with them individually to make sure they know you mean business.
  2. Once you know your kids understand your instruction, one at a time, set up an opportunity to see how they handle it.
  • Plan to take just one child at a time to the store when your husband can stay home with the others.
  • Ask your child what the “Store Rules” are before you get out of the car.
  • When you are in the store, see if he sticks to them. If our kids didn’t, we had them hold on to the cart and they lost the freedom to speak.
  • We wouldn’t give him this freedom back until we got in the car.
  • The first words out of his mouth should be an apology to you for not sticking to the rules.
  • If your child did stick to the rules, praise him while you are shopping and again before you get back home. Remember to tell his dad how well he did.

Believe it or not, getting the “Yes Mom” is the key for your child to commit themselves to stick to the rules. It’s their verbal agreement of giving their word that helps teach them to keep their word.
Too many times parents try to train out of frustration or during discipline situations, which really doesn’t teach a child anything. What they do know is you are only trying to corral them in that moment.Pre-activity warnings are good things for you and the kids. They are great reminders that your child needs rules while you are out and about and that you need to pay attention to whether he sticks to them or not.
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”Colossians 3:20 (ESV)