Editor's note: This article originally appeared at Hearts at Home on Sep. 29, 2011. Used with permission.

I remember when Mark and I took a parenting class and learned about expecting first time obedience from our kids. Our habit, up to that point, had been to count to three, or to threaten, or to get angry.

Now we had a different vision for our family and for discipline in our home. But how do you change mid-stream? How do you handle a change in expectations, discipline, or how you will parent in the future?

Mark and I have had to do this over the years when we’ve realized that we’ve either allowed something we shouldn’t, or haven’t parented well or consistently. We call a family meeting and talk to the kids about what we’ve realized or what we’re learning. 

If you find yourself needing a parenting “do-over,” consider taking these steps:

1) Tell your child/children of the upcoming change. One mom had allowed her daughter to sleep in her bed with her. When she realized this wasn’t healthy for her daughter or her marriage, she sat her daughter down and explained that “beginning tomorrow night, you will sleep in your own bed.” This gave her daughter a heads up and a time of adjustment.

2) Apologize to your kids, if needed.  An apology isn’t a sign of weakness…in the parenting realm it’s a sign of strength. Your kids will understand that you make mistakes and that you know what to do to clean up your mistakes.  

3) Train to the new expectation.  If your kids are old enough, do some role-playing to train them to the new standard.  

4) Give a grace period.  When we introduced first-time obedience, we trained for several days and then we began our grace period. It was one week of having the new expectation in place, but if they responded inappropriately, they were reminded of the standard and told that after the grace week, they will receive a consequence for that kind of a response.

5) Be willing to be the parent.  The standard is set, the training done, and the practice time is over. Now it’s time to stand firm on your new direction. Most parents find if they are consistent with communication, expectations, and accountability, they are able to move in the direction they desire to go. If you’re dealing with teens, you probably won’t need the training, but the communication, grace period, and consistent accountability will do the trick. 

Jill Savage (www.jillsavage.org) is the founder and CEO of Hearts at Home, an organization for moms.  Jill is a sought after speaker and the author of 8 books including Real Moms…Real Jesus and My Heart’s at Home. Jill and her husband Mark are the parents of five children, four biological and one adopted. The Savage’s make their home in Normal, Illinois.

Publication date: October 19, 2012