5 Reasons Kids Disobey

Ron AllchinFor Those Giving Help, For Those Seeking Hope3 Comments

Ever wonder why children disobey? Or specifically why your kid does the opposite of what the Bible instructs, encourages, and commands?

You know God says kids should obey their parents. Perhaps you can recite this verse in your sleep:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Ephesians 6:1–3, ESV

Dr. Ron Allchin, D.Min., founder of Biblical Counseling Center lists five reasons why kids disobey.

5 Reasons for Disobedience

Here are five possible motivations and examples. Discern which one or two best fits your child or teen.

1. Tensions

Children can be motivated to disobey by tensions displayed in the home.

Examples: Financial tensions, parental marital problems, discipline issues related to a sibling, family tension with neighbors, parental work-related issues, tension with grandparents, tension in the church that affect the family, and other tension-creating situations.

2. An Unbiblical Model

Children can be motivated by the influence of an unbiblical model.

Examples:  Ungodly anger modeled by a parent, or rebellion against an authority modeled in the home (Mom against Dad, Dad against boss, Mom against boss, sibling against parent, or ungodly examples of lying, cheating, stealing, and the like by someone in the home).

3. An Unknown Reason

Children can be motivated to disobey by a present or past circumstance that they witnessed, heard, or experienced that is unknown to the parent.

Examples: Sexual abuse of the child or their sibling, trouble at school, relational problems with child’s peer group, or other present or past trouble unknown to the parent.

4. A Strong Will

Children may also disobey due to their own stubborn, rebellious, strong will.

Examples: The child may choose a path of rebellion or to exercise their own stubborn and strong will in spite of proper parental teaching and modeling. Adam and Eve did!

5. Imbalance in Nurture and Admonition

Children can be motivated by a breakdown or imbalance in nurture and admonition.

Examples: Living opposite of the Ephesians 6:4 example of a balance in nurture and admonition in parenting a child.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4, ESV

Nurture is using rewards and consequences to structure the child’s behavior. Read Hebrews 12:5–11.

Admonition is loving instruction with warning, caution, and rebuke. It involves talking with your child about her disobedience, hugging her, and searching the Bible together for God’s instruction. Read Deuteronomy 6:4–7. A proper balance of nurture and admonition helps your child’s heart respond to God’s heart all the days of his life.

Now What?

Did you identify a motivation for your child’s or teen’s disobedience? If so, you are on your way to godly parenting. If you’re unsure, ask God to reveal to you what’s happening in your child’s heart.

God wants you to proactively zero in on your child’s heart and train him or her to honor Him. Teach your child to know God and to love Him. Teach your child how to obey.

As you grasp why children disobey and partner with God to teach your child to love Him, you (and your spouse) will bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

For more resources on the relationship between fathers and sons in particular, see Dr. Allchin’s book Growing in Wisdom: A Bible Study in Proverbs for Fathers and Sons.


COUNSELING: Sometimes reading a book on parenting isn’t enough. Sometimes it’s helpful to speak with a caring biblical counselor regarding solutions to the problems. Biblical Counseling Center has three locations in the Chicago area and we also offer counseling by Skype. Our counselors have counseled people living in Australia, China, Switzerland, Germany, the U.K., and other nations as well as all over the United States and Canada.

Contact us today for more information or to make an appointment.

Do you or someone you know need counseling?

We are passionate about helping hurting people. We provide Skype counseling for people across the country, and live counseling in 5 offices across the Chicagoland area.

Get Help Today

Are you interested in learning to counsel others?

We believe that the Bible has the answers for a hurting world. We are passionate about training people and churches, through online courses and events, to help those in need.

Learn More Today

3 Comments on “5 Reasons Kids Disobey”

  1. I never realize that family tensions can have a huge impact on why my children act out and disobey. I bet that financial tension really puts the parents in a bad mood and that mood generates to the children. The other day my kid was just acting out so much that I started doing research on other things I can try without spanking my kid. At what point do you draw the line with your kid and have to raise your voice at him?

    1. Every child is different. Some children quickly obey when the mom or dad gives a look of disapproval. Other children respond with obedience only when the parent provides a “rod,” or a spanking. Just as God lovingly disciplines us for our good, caring parents discipline willfully disobedient children. Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” A lack of discipline puts into question the parent’s concern for the child.

      Specifically to your question, it is possible for a parent to never raise his or her voice at a child to effect obedience. Very often when a parent yells at a child, the parent is failing to exercise self-control and is sinning against the child. It is wise to clearly communicate expectations to the child and follow through with positive or negative consequences. I hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.

  2. Yes I had an episode with my seven and half year old grand son yesterday as a care giver. He would not let his little brother out of a wooden crib in the back yard. He was in there with him. Little brother aged 4 and half wanted out but he barricaded him to stay. I went to get the little one and he barricaded me from him I asked him to please let him out and he said no. I asked three times and then I moved him and got the little one. After I removed little brother he ran and jumped the fence and ran off. He came back in later and started throwing things in the house. This family does go to church and I a Christoan believer. The family does not spank him but does other discipline. They live in a mobile home with 25 chickens, rabbits, 3 cats and a dog. Mom is going to school to get her PHD. She works part time and goes to school. The house is a mess and dirty. So I am trying to help by cleaning and taking care of grand children. I believe they have to many animals. So I do believe there is a lot of tension causing his behavior of disobedience. So do you have any advice for me?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *