Would you like to know a specific way you can identify the success of your discipline session with your child? I’ve got this one tip. This final check point will show you if your child’s rebellious heart is indeed yielded and brought back under submission to your authority.



The discipline session.

In the previous post I shared specific wording to use in apologizing. With permission, I shared a real life example of my then 2 1/2 year old daughter Kelsey’s temper tantrum. In anger, she  pushed over the kitchen trash can causing one big mess. She was completely out of control. When she calmed down (which was not immediate) I was then able to discipline her and talk with her by looking into her eyes and going over the exact questions I mentioned in the sixth blog post in this series. When she knew the answers to those questions and was ready to apologize there was just one more thing for me to do to see if this discipline session was a success. This one thing would show me if her heart was now yielded and submissive. The way she would respond would reveal if her stubborn, selfish heart was now compliant. This one thing would be to give her “one command.”

Give one command.

In the case above where the selfishness and anger in Kelsey’s heart resulted in her knocking over a trashcan, the logical one command for me say to check her response was “Now clean up the trash.”  If her heart was truly restored, she would sweetly and willingly, without hesitation or any moaning, sighs,  rolling of the eyes, pouting, tense shoulders or stiff neck, obey my one command by responding politely to me  (“Yes” or “Yes, Ma’am” or “Okay, Mommy”) and immediately do exactly what I “commanded” her to do.

I’m using the word “command,” but don’t misunderstand my point. My tone and wording to her is gentle and loving, yet firm and done with the expectation of her obedience. Actually, I don’t want to “make” her be obedient. I want her to willingly obey. So, I’m just communicating in a conversational voice. And, in this case, because cleaning up coffee grinds is super hard for a little girl’s fingers to fully grasp, when Kelsey immediately and willingly began cleaning up the mess, I kindly said, “I’ll help you,” and  I got on the floor beside her. Sweet moments take place when hearts are beautifully restored – even when cleaning up trash together.

A few more specific examples.

Here are a few other scenarios to demonstrate this concept of giving “one command” and how the response signals either the success of your discipline session or lets you know the heart was not yet changed. Parenting to the heart is our goal.

  • Bob disobeyed cleaning his room. You deal with his heart (disobedience, disrespectful, selfish) in the discipline process. He apologizes to you for this. You hug.  You say, “I love you.” Your one command, kindly and respectfully given to him could be, “Now, go clean your room.”  You see, that (cleaning his room) is the very thing that he failed to obey, so that is the very thing he needs to do to demonstrate a yielded, obedient heart. If Bob also slammed the door in the process of his disobedience, you make sure you address the angry heart as well.
  • Tyler, 18 months, was told to put his book on the shelf. He doesn’t. (We’re assuming in this example that he’s already been taught to do this, so the not doing it is disobedience- which you must deal with.) You were about to have lunch with your four other children too, but you must “stop the world” and deal with this disobedience. This does not mean you need to make a scene, this situation may just call for you to go over and repeat the direction and see if he obeys. If there is a standoff, you can then gently hold his hand and the two of you pick up the book together and then you again say, “Tyler, put the book back on the shelf.”  If he does this command sweetly, you’re good. If not, deal with his disobedient heart. Do not put the book back for him -even though you are going to discipline him. Make that be the “one command” to check on the condition of his heart. After you talk with him say, “Now, go put the book on the shelf, and let’s eat.”
  • Emma and Abby, your teenage daughters were both rude to each other about something super important – like Emma wearing Abby’s shirt. (LOL) Deal with the heart of each daughter – the selfishness of Abby for not sharing (not seeing people over things. She really should be able to freely share  her things) and Emma for not being respectful of Abby and not asking permission and then honoring whatever Abby’s says (a yes or a no).  The command may look like one or more of these:
    • To Abby: In private I would coach her so that she sees her own wrong in this scenario and can apologize in this type of way: “Emma, I know I was wrong for being selfish and not sharing my clothes and for being rude to you and disrespectful in how I talked with you. Will you forgive me? I’m still learning to be generous and not possessive of my things. You can borrow my things. In fact, you can wear that shirt.” That’s the bottom line of what I want her to get and my one command might simply be to hear this type of apology from her.
    • To Emma: In private, I would talk with her about how she was wrong. She was disrespectful, taking things that aren’t hers,etc. She would be expected to apologize and my one command might be “Now return the shirt to Abby.” I would watch for how she responds. Any response that is not completely loving and kind shows that the condition of her heart is not yielded.
    • To both:  (separately) I would in addition say, “Now apologize and then give her a hug.” I mean I hope I don’t have to say to give a hug, but it might be the one thing that shows me the heart. Physical affection is an important ingredient in our home. In fact, think about it…when we are upset with someone we might think or even say, “Don’t touch me!” So, a command to “hug” will reveal if their hearts are truly restored or not.
  • Alli, your four year old, was rude to you. The one command, after apologizing is “Now hug your mommy.” This is very telling. If a child is not able to freely hug me, it shows there is still anger in her heart. This would mean that we are not finished with the discipline session.

Train Ahead.

You should know what this phrase means, if you’ve been reading my blog for very long. Don’t wait for the next situation to happen. Gather the gang together and go over how you expect them to respond during this discipline process. Do NOT…I repeat…do NOT tell them your secret tip here. But, DO tell them that you expect them to obey. Right away.All the way. And with a cheerful heart. .Oh no, I’m going to have to add another blog post to this series… because I just remembered you need to know an awesome definition of obedience. It is going to change your life. So, that will be the next post.

“Tone” check for parents.

Parents, you’re directly teaching your kids how to communicate in your home. To you. To your spouse. Amongst the siblings. With their future spouses and families even in this very process of disciplining them. Communicate respectfully to them, just as Christ does with us. He is long-suffering, patient, and gentle with us.

You know what else? Your tone when communicating becomes the very tone in your home. A big passion deep in my heart is to help parents create a peaceful home. It starts with YOU. I’m serious…do a “tone” check,  and how ’bout doing a “bully” check, too. I’ve seen so many parents bully their kids, making threats, degrading them, blaming everything on them reducing them to tears…and anger…and maybe even pushing them into silence with wounds deep inside. That is far from the concept I’ve shared with you where the whole point of discipline is for restoration. Restoration in the home between family members means a peaceful home…in which all family members feel safe, loved, and valued…where hearts are safe. Can I hear an AMEN. (Thank you, I heard two of you.)


Well, as I listen to lovely piano playing in the background by this now-grown up eighteen year old, I have tears in my eyes. I reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives. Shown above is this former exhausting-to-discipline, defiant child mentioned in today and yesterday’s blog posts. Her heart for the Lord is big. I truly believe that God uses this “determination” in children, and when channeled the right way they can do big things for the Lord. (I’ll share more on this later, but you can listen to her share her story in a video right here on my website A Mother/Daughter’s Journey Through Suffering. It’s almost an hour long, but you’ll be impacted and enlightened and challenged. I know you will.

And..the reason for the delay in these last few posts is the two of us went on a road trip together to visit a college 10 hours away…or with my u-turns, 11 hours away. What a precious time with my beautiful, determined daughter!

If you missed any in this series on “stiff necks and rebellious hearts,” you can click here.

Rhonda pressonmoms,presson!YouhavetheHolySpirittoguideyouinyourparenting ellis

  1. Mel

    The “one command” method is truly telling of whether a heart change is in effect. I’ve learned that even partial disobedience is rebellion.

    Thank you for all of these insightful reminders as I’m about to partake in my 5th year of teaching.

    p.s. “Amen!” I’m 1 of the 2.

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