Keys to Obedience (Tutorial)

Teaching our children to obey is a crucial step in preparing them to live a life of obedience to the Lord.

Here is a fun and effective way to teach and reinforce four vital aspects of obedience.

Imagine a door that has four different locks, each requiring a separate key. Though each one of these keys will work, all four keys are required to open the door.  Similarly, true obedience is comprised of several different keys and all four keys are necessary to attain obedience.

The 4 Keys:

1. Immediately

Delayed obedience = disobedience! Children must be taught to respond quickly to direction and instruction. Instant obedience may even save your child’s life! Consider a toddler running toward the road, into the path of an oncoming car. If he fails to obey when commanded to “STOP”, it could cost the child his life.

2. Cheerfully

A cheerful attitude can make a difficult chore seem much easier to accomplish, while a bad attitude makes simple tasks harder.

3. Completely

If a child is asked to gather the trash and immediately responds with a joyful heart, but then fails to replace the trash bag in the trash can, he is missing the vital key of thoroughness.

4. Without Complaining

No grumbling or arguing is allowed. This includes statements such as “That’s not my job” or “I always have to do that”.

How to make the keys:

First make a key template from cardstock for each child.

Have the children trace a key on four different sheets of colored paper.

Children who are proficient with scissors can cut out their own keys.

Write one aspect of obedience on each key.

Write Ephesians 6:1 on a square of cardstock.

We laminated our keys for durability (our children enjoy playing with their new keys). If you don’t have access to a laminator, you can use clear contact paper; it works just as well!

Hole-punch the large end, stack the keys, adding the Ephesians 6:1 tag and insert ½ of a pipe cleaner. Twist the end to secure.

Plan to have many Obedience quizzes over the next few days! I’ll randomly ask, “Who can name all four keys to obedience?” If I give a child a command and they seem pouty, I’ll ask “Which key are you missing?” Or if I find an incomplete chore, I’ll say, “Looks like we’re missing a key here.”

As our children learn to hear and respond to our instruction, we are also preparing them to listen for their heavenly Father’s still, small voice and to obey His promptings.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. ~Ephesians 6:1-3

What creative ways have you discovered to teach obedience to your children?

*Obedience Keys original idea from Character First.

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  1. Hislovendures says

    I love this! How young do you think it would work to start using this tool? I have a 21 month old and am discouraged that she does not always obey the first time I ask her to do (or not do) something. As a first time Mom, I have a hard time knowing if what I’m expecting is age appropriate.

    • says

      I like Shonda’s idea for using the keys with little ones; make the keys large and talk about what those words mean. When teaching obedience to toddlers, I try to make it fun. I explain to Michael (who is now 2), “Mommy is going to call your name and you listen closely and see how fast you can come, okay?” Then I go into the next room and call for him. As he comes running, I swoop him up and talk about how he obeyed mommy IMMEDIATELY. This can be played out with each of the four keys.

  2. Heather says

    Thank you for this new approach to teaching obedience! I love it and am actually going to go thru this activity with my kids who are older elementary school age! I think it’s time for a refresher about obedience and this is perfect! ;-)

    • says

      Heather, we’ve made these keys several different times, with various age groups, and all the children seem responsive to them. Our 10 year old hung his keys in his room, while his 8 year old brother chose to carry his on his belt for days.

  3. Kim N. says

    These are all great things to implement. I get confused about what should be done when they don’t obey immediately or when they don’t do any of these things for that matter. Do you give a spanking every time? How many warnings/reminders do you give before spanking, especially with little ones?

    • says

      Children should be taught to respond immediately to a parent’s instruction. Considering that each child is unique, with different personalities and dispositions, different methods work with different children. A couple of excellent books that I recommend regarding this subject are Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tripp, and Give them Grace by Fitzpatrick and Thompson.

    • says

      I’m glad you like it Jamerrill! We used this one summer during a Bible club in our home that featured a different character quality each week. The keys don’t take long to make, but the results are lasting!

  4. Anonymous says

    THANK YOU!! I am struggling with obedience with my two boys. Especially my strong-willed first born child. I’m currently praying over some new discipline techniques and this hands on idea sounds like a good fit for us!

    • says

      LaToya, I’m glad the Lord led you here! Remember to make a set for yourself, to keep handy for impromptu learning sessions. Our children like to play with their keys and it helps when I keep a set visible in the kitchen (where we tend to spend a lot of time).

  5. November Freece says

    Thanks for sharing this great idea! It will be a fun hands-on tool for our children to reinforce the how and why of obedience. Also something for us moms to remember as we obey our Father! Thanks again.

  6. Janet says

    Wow! I was just having a very difficult afternoon with my girls and their disobedient attitudes and then I came across this post! Just what I needed. Though the girls were NOT ready to hear this when I tried to read it to them, we are definitely making the keys tomorrow! Thanks!

  7. babshharrell says

    So thankful I found this today! This is just what I need. We have been working on this topic so this will be a great craft to go along with that lesson! :)

  8. Kerry says

    I just made this but I used a plastic toy key ring I got for $1. I thought it might be more durable with my 3 boys that way. Thanks for the great idea!

  9. schneidermom3 says

    My kids are 17 (almost 18), 14 (almost 15) and 12. I’m reviewing the keys with my children today. We first introduced this concept 10 years ago and the KEYS have been key in our conversations over the years. I highly recommend them! Although, we had a 5th key – Going the Extra Mile – because doing the dishes is one thing, shining the kitchen faucet when you are all done is a blessed thing. Thanks for keeping them fresh in the minds of moms and dads to use when training their children.

  10. Kathleen Henderson says

    Love this idea! We’re thinking of starting Character First, but the binder generously given to my family by a friend is missing Obedience & Truthfulness. So it’s helpful to read about one of the Obedience activities from the curriculum. Thanks!


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