This one parenting technique may possibly be one of the most significant things you do in raising respectful children who know how to behave in all situations.

Once you understand it, you’ll most likely be using this every day to prepare your children to be respectful in whatever situation is coming up next.


Alexis’ Sunday school teachers dropped by for a visit.


See this picture? It’s from an album back in 1995. I picked it because it shows the concept of “training ahead.”


These two ladies were my 3 1/2 year old’s Sunday school teachers who came by to meet her family and share about the upcoming year’s plans. (This daughter is now 22. Say WHAT? How’d that happen?) The two brothers are 6 and 1 1/2. The teachers were able to visit with Alexis and me while her brothers played quietly together in the same room.  Although each child is different, training ahead is super helpful in preparing them to know what respect looks like in various situations.


Prior to their visit, I gathered the kids together and explained the upcoming “event” to the kids (Sunday school teachers coming to introduce themselves and want to get to know Alexis and her family) and talked with them about what they could expect to happen (possibly the teacher sitting on the couch, asking questions, etc.) and how they should behave during their visit. We talked about respect and what that looked like in this particular scenario. Rather than a long list of Do’s and Don’ts like “don’t be loud. don’t run.don’t scream. don’t chase your brother. don’t throw the toys”… and whatever else our particular kids might be prone to do. lol) when behavior is based on respect, the child is able to know respectful behavior in various situations and learns to monitor his own actions.


The focus was on HOW to be respectful. In a brief period of time they were “trained ahead” on how to greet the guests, sit beside them, communicate with them looking at their eyes, answering questions, and even preparing them for a question or two to ask of the teachers (to show interest in the teacher). The brothers were told and shown that respectful behavior meant not detracting from the purpose of the visit… in other words, not interrupting or putting attention on themselves. They knew respect meant to play quietly, not interrupting Alexis and the teachers, not coming up to me during that time, and what getting along actually looked like. In this case, it meant playing on the floor separately or together.


The time spent training ahead was focused on their heart and how to be respectful which is #lovingotherswell. This picture of respect in this specific scenario was painted for them and they got it. So, even though there were three little kids (and several of them with lots of energy) they were able to  greet the teachers, sit still, not interrupt, engage in conversation, and play quietly.

Training ahead is training to the heart… teaching the child(ren) about respect.

Yay! It is possible for you to have obedient and respectful children. The dream of a calm home may be right around the corner for you! Train them ahead so that they are adequately equipped, understanding the upcoming event, and what respect looks like and doesn’t look like in it. Role play to prepare. Ask them questions like “what if…” and “what would be the respectful thing to do” or “would it be respectful to …” and assess their understanding according to their responses.

Teach to their hearts. Teach them to be about others. – not to impress others – but to be respectful of others.

Training ahead is one of the best techniques for raising respectful, responsible children. Use it prior to each situation and you’ll see results.



Rhonda Ihadfunlookingatoldphotoalbumstogetthesepictures ellis

  1. Mel

    This is truly a life altering form of parenting and teachering.

    • Rhonda

      I have a friend named Mel who has used these principles in HER CLASSROOM and has stood out among her peers for having a calm, peaceful, obedient group of young students – even when others thought there was no hope for that particular group of students. That person is YOU. You are practicing TRAINING AHEAD and PARENTING to the HEART!! You are a blessing in their lives. (and I know they are a blessing to you.)

  2. Misti Green

    Danny and I have enjoyed learning about this concept from Rhonda Ellis. It truly has helped in so many situations in life. We have taken this advice and ran with it. We get weary sometimes in well doing, and need this reminder always. This parenting tip has been very beneficial in our home. When we role play and have acted out certain behavior for the children it has left us all laughing and giggling, but the kids got the point and the role play visual!!! Thank you once again for the reminder!

    • Rhonda

      Misti, I’m so glad you have testimony of this principle. I know I am also thankful to have learned this from others! Love you!!

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