Growing Obedience in Your Kids at Christmas: Guest post by Tim Elmore

I’m honored to have Tim Elmore as my guest today.  Tim is a brilliant leader who focuses much of his leadership passion on the upcoming generation.  He has amazing insight in developing leadership in young people.  As part of his “12 Days of Christmas Parenting” series, we’re talking about growing obedience in your kids.  And while I don’t have children of my own, I’m grateful for parents who taught me this characteristic.  It has greatly shaped my leadership.

Growing Obedience in Your Kids at Christmas

When I survey parents at conferences, the characteristic they most want in their kids is: Obedience. Kids disobey for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they claim they didn’t hear mom when she told them to do something. At other times, they’re flooded with so many distractions, they forget to obey mom. Still other times, they are stubborn and just decide they want to do something else. It’s rather refreshing when kids recognize their own shortcomings. Tommy sat on Santa’s lap and recited a litany of toys he wanted for Christmas: a rocket, a bicycle, a video game, a water gun, and a DVD. When Santa replied, “Wow — I will do my best. Let me just check to see if you’ve been a good, obedient boy this year…” The boy responded, “Forget it. Just get me the rocket.”

So how do we cultivate obedience in our children? The answer may depend on how old they are, but let me suggest one idea.

Try this.

If they are young — take some time and play “Simon Says.” Do you remember that game? You stand up front and give instructions to your kids to do the following: Put their hand on their head, clap their hands, rub their stomach, jump up and down, stretch out their arms, etc. The key is: They are only to follow through and do it if you first say: “Simon Says.” You know the drill.

Afterward, talk about how this game is a little like life. When God, a parent or a teacher instructs us to do something, obedience is the name of the game. They are our leaders. Next, talk about a few stories from the Bible, where God asked his people to do something. Then, discuss the fact that there’s always a reason for obedience. Talk about why God told His people to do the following:

PERSON                   GOD’S REQUEST                            WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT?

1. Noah                          1. To build an ark                                   1.

2. Lot’s wife                  2. Don’t look back on Sodom              2.

3. King David               3. Don’t take a census of Israel           3.

God actually had good reason for each of his directions for Noah, Lot’s wife and David. (It was to avoid a flood; to prevent any longing for a past sinful life; and to ensure David trusted God for protection, not his army). Similarly, both God and parents have a “why” behind their directions.

If you have older kids, try an exercise for one week. Every time you must tell them “what” to do, take a few minutes and explain “why” you’re asking them to do it. Often, when kids begin to see the “why” behind the “what,” it fosters obedience. Further, it can build trust the next time you don’t have time to explain the “why” behind your leadership. Trusting in our leaders breeds obedience.

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

Join us tomorrow at Daniel Decker‘s blog ( as we discuss ways to develop kindness in your kids (and maybe yourself!) during the holidays.

Tim Elmore


This has been a guest post from Tim Elmore as part of his “12 Days of Christmas Parenting” series. You can follow Tim’s personal blog at and follow him on Twitter at Learn more about developing the next generation in his latest book: Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future. (

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