I recently had an epiphany about this first-time obedience (FTO) stuff. I was listening to the Mom’s Notes at the gym and came home and read the paper notes. I came away from that with an understanding about what is really at the heart of first-time obedience. Basically, if you teach your child first-time obedience, his self-control will naturally improve.
In the Mom’s Notes, they define first-time obedience as simply coming to the call of their name with an attitude of submission. Here are the words that inspired my epiphany:
“Submission is the first, and most necessary character quality your child needs to learn and it is up to you, the parent to teach it to him…. The wonderful by-product of teaching your child submission is that he will, in the process learn self-control. Learning to be quiet and still instead of throwing a fit when he is asked to do something he doesn’t want to do is demonstrating both self-control and submission. The two go hand-in-hand.” (Understanding First-Time Obedience, Mom’s Notes, www.momsnotes.com)
Is it self-control or first-time obedience?
I think about some of the misbehaviors I have seen in my children:
- Running around in public places (Starbucks, library, etc.)
- Whining or throwing a fit at bath time
- Snatching toys from each other
I’m sure you would all agree that these behaviors leave something to be desired (to say the least). But what I discovered is that it’s not about running around, whining or sharing. It’s not even about self-control. It’s about first-time obedience. If we had 95% first-time obedience, these behaviors simply wouldn’t happen.
While I feel humbled by this, it also leaves me inspired. I don’t need to focus on 50 different misbehaviors. I only need to worry about one thing: first-time obedience. It’s all about laying that foundation that inspires self-control in our children. Once I improve my kids’ first-time obedience, everything else will fall in line. I won’t forget abut those many misbehaviors, but I will make first-time obedience my primary objective in everything I do.
It makes sense that the Ezzos and Carla Link (from the Mom’s Notes) focus so much on first-time obedience. It simplifies parenting in a big way.
FTO is the foundation to good parenting
Here’s more from the Mom’s Notes that really drives this home:
“First-time obedience is the foundation from which all your other training will be built off of. If you are settling for less than your child’s best effort here—you will see much less than his/her best everywhere.”
“Getting them to come at the call of their name is the foundation on which all future training/discipline will be applied. The weaker the foundation, the less effective your training, instruction, etc. will be and your child, over time will cease to comply cheerfully with your simplest requests.… We frequently get calls from parents, however, who are increasingly frustrated with their children’s behavior and attitude, yet resist applying this teaching. You can’t have it both ways. In other words—you can’t have a low standard of compliance in terms of first-time obedience (and the compliance you get is low because you are unwilling to consistently correct for it when you don’t get it) and have children who cheerfully comply with your instructions first-time. Instead you will have children who whine, negotiate, debate and openly challenge you in many different ways. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground here. Think about it!” (Understanding First-Time Obedience, Mom’s Notes, www.momsnotes.com)
Very inspiring words, indeed! In my next post, I’ll discuss the mechanics of first-time obedience as suggested by the Mom’s Notes.