Let’s face it. Obedience isn’t always fun. For kids, it often means you don’t get to do what you wanted to do because your parents has insisted you obey a command to stop. If we are really honest, teaching your kids to obey isn’t always a ton of fun either. Especially when they are young, it can seem like a constant round of saying “No” and giving out consequences to a chorus of tears and protests.
Surprisingly, there are some fun things you can do with your kids that will also reinforce obedience. If you pair the following games and activities with a Bible story, it will add more depth to the experience. Older kids especially need to start making the connection between your rules and God’s.
There are many things you can do with kids to underscore the importance of obedience, but here are a few of my favorites:
- Red Light Green Light. Red light green light is a great game for the little ones in your family. Have your kids stand a distance away from you. When you call out “green light” they can start walking towards you. As soon as you call out “red light” though, they must immediately stop. If they don’t, they have to go back to the start line. The first one to touch you wins the game. This is a great game to pair with the story of manna in the wilderness. (Exodus 16) The Bible even says God gave them the instructions to see if they would follow them (and of course some people didn’t).
- Simon Says. This is a great game to teach that obedience means obeying every detail of the instructions – not just the easy ones or the ones we like. Have your kids stand in front of you. Call out instructions to do various things like “touch your nose”. If you say “Simon says” before the instruction, your kids should obey it, but if you just give the instruction, they shouldn’t do it. To make it more difficult, you should do every action you call out, regardless of whether or not you said “Simon says”. The story of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-2) is a great illustration of how God wants us to obey His commands exactly as He gives them to us.
- Origami. Actually this can be any craft with detailed instructions – origami is basically a free craft with online instructions and scrap paper from your house. Find some origami instructions, but don’t share them with your children. Ask them to create whatever the finished item is supposed to be without looking at any instructions. Then give them a second sheet of paper and go through the instructions with them step by step. Have them compare the two finished objects. Why does the one made by following instructions look better than the one they made without any help? (Note: This activity may not work if you have an extremely artistic child or are like me and can’t seem to master some origami even with instructions!) As with the other activities, there are many Bibles tories that can be paired with this one. Perhaps you want to share the story of Noah and the Ark with your kids. What would have happened if Noah tried to build the Ark without the help of God’s detailed instructions? Would it have been able to hold as many animals? Would it have even floated? (Remind them there had been no rain before the flood, much less a flood of that size – making the job even more difficult without instructions.) Explain to them their lives are like that. If they try to live them without reading and obeying God’s instructions, they will most likely end up with a mess. Following God’s instructions will help them live the life God wanted for them.
- Grow Something. This one will take a little time, but that’s part of the lesson. Grab a plastic cup, some dirt and a few seeds (you can even try growing something from food scraps if you prefer – roots of spring onions work well. Talk about how your kids will need to care for the plant with sun and water. If they are like most kids, after a few days they will forget. Let them – especially if the plant has already started growing above the dirt. Then once the exposed plant dies, bring your kids back together. Share with them the story of someone like King Saul or Samson, who started out obeying God, but then got distracted and stopped. Point out to your children that obeying God is something we need to do every day of our lives – we can’t just stop at some point, or the consequences will be negative.
There are lots of other things you can do. Get creative and have fun with it. Encourage older kids to plan an activity showing the importance of obedience. Just remember, after each activity it is important to discuss what happened and share Bible stories and scriptures if possible. If you don’t it will just have been a fun activity without the important lesson being learned. Teaching your children the vital importance fo obeying God is an important building block in their faith foundation.