FTO and self-control

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.

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6 Comments

Filed under first-time obedience

6 responses to “FTO and self-control

  1. This quote really stood out to me.

    “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…. ”

    I’m totally on-board with first-time obedience, and I think your epiphany makes the question of discipline so much simpler, but do we really think that SUBMISSION is the most important character quality to cultivate in our children? I mean, I’d much rather have my children confident, happy, inspired, and a whole host of other adjectives over “submissive.” Clearly I don’t have the whole picture and maybe the idea is that submission leads to those other qualities, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

  2. Maureen

    A couple thoughts in response. First, you have to consider the context that this quote came from. It’s in a presentation about first-time obedience. So in any parent’s attempt to get their children to obey, yes, submission is the most important character trait.

    But beyond that, I’ll say that submission is important in many aspects of parenting. Confidence, happiness, feeling inspired, etc. are important. But I would argue that those traits come more easily when a child is submissive and able to respect his parent’s wishes. I think about a Supernanny show I saw recently. The kids were absolute monsters (more so than you usually see on that show). The parents had no authority to teach them not to throw giant toys at kids’ heads, much less be able to teach them real life lessons. Were those kids confident or happy? Probably not. They were most likely looking for attention and wanting their parents to draw the line and teach them how to live in this world. So when a child is taught how to be polite and engage in intelligent conversation with an adult, for example, and get a good smile and praise from that adult, then that will foster happiness and confidence. And it’s when a child is submissive that he’s open to learning those lessons we parents have to teach. And those lessons are what build confidence and happiness.

  3. Amanda

    While the term ‘submission’ makes me a bit squirmy too, because of its negative connotations in our society, I think Maureen is right that when a person submits to legitimate authority there is a certain level of confidence and freedom that can come from that. It’s not forcing or beating our children into submission, it’s constantly encouraging and inviting them to be submissive to our instruction. If they don’t obey our instruction, they are at a safety risk and frankly can become a nuisance to themselves and others. However, every time you give a child an instruction they have a choice to obey the instruction or not. I think if they have a generally submissive attitude to your authority then they are much more likely to obey. By giving a consequence or praise to encourage obedience, we help them develop the habit of obedience, which develops into an overall submissive attitude to your instruction.

    Submission is also all about relationship in my opinion. In college, I had a really neat class on teaching writing that took place over the summer. I’d never had the professor before and when he walked in and told us we were going to do a ‘feather circle’ and share our writing and ‘write from the heart’ I just cringed. That is sooo not my thing and sounded like a lot of hippy nonsense, not to mention a great way to embarrass the heck out of us! I was skeptical to say the least, lol!
    But as we were divided into groups and I got to know both my peers and the professor his instruction to share our writing became more reasonable to me. I almost didn’t go to that first class where we had to share our essay in a circle but I did mostly because I feared missing class would affect my grade. Later, I went to the classes because I enjoyed them and found that the professor’s method worked and was making me a better writer. I grew in confidence through that class as a writer and as a student in general.

    In the same way we encourage our children to first time obedience first with consequences as toddlers and as they move into the preschool age the close relationship of the first 3 years begins to take over a bit for us and they obey not out of fear of consequences but out of their trust in us. They then develop a submissive attitude out of choice and habit. When you yell to a toddler to come to mommy right now he may or may not come, despite a car coming that you can see while he cannot. But a 9 year old who hears you yell ‘come here now!’ comes straight away because he knows that tone of voice indicates danger and trusts that you have his best interest at heart and wouldn’t make a fool out of him calling him for no reason. To me, that indicates a healthy submission to a parent’s authority.

  4. Nancy

    Love your encouragment in this area!! I am constantly reminded that the most important lesson I can teach my children is to live in obdience to God/Jesus Christ. My first job as a parent is to teach my children to obey ME… as I am in authority over them… as they grow and mature they leave my authority, but will never grow out of the need to live for and obey God.

    I have 4 children, and started BabyWise with my 2nd… not have heard of the books/series until she was about 7 weeks old. There is a remarkable difference in the ease of compliance with my 3 younger children compared to my oldest… he was about 5-6 yrs old when I discovered the rest of the childwise series and began to impliment what I read. Some might say it is due to his personality… but I tend to lean toward my own inconsistency with him…. perhaps it is a combination of both. We are both growing!

  5. Dorcas

    I’m disappointed that there wasn’t a follow up with the “mechanics” as you suggested there would be. Will you be adding that post soon?

  6. Maureen

    Yeah, I apologize about that. I will get to it soon. I promise!

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