In a recent post on first-time obedience (FTO) and self-control, I said I would write a post on the mechanics of FTO and how you can achieve it with your children. This is the first of three posts that should give you all the detail you need to start your FTO training.
Before we continue, let me refer you to my existing posts on first-time obedience. Go back and read those to lay the groundwork for your FTO training. Once you understand what first-time obedience is all about, then you can move on to training your child in it.
In her Mom’s Notes presentations, Carla Link goes into great detail on what exactly first-time obedience training means. Specifically, she defines FTO as having your children come to you at the call of their name immediately, completely and without challenge or complaint.
Today, we’ll discuss the immediate component of FTO training.
Counting to three
In the Mom’s Notes, Carla Link provides a little history on her parenting before she met the Ezzos. “In Growing Kids God’s Way, we learned that obedience needs to come ‘first time.’ Before we came across GKGW, we used to count to three to our children. If I called Michael’s name, wanting him to come to me, I would start counting 1-2-3. My thinking was that he needed time to choose to obey me. Taking time to choose to come at my call was not obedience. True submission (obedience) is coming at the moment of my call, whether he felt like it or not—whether he wanted to or not—whether it was convenient for him to or not.” (Mom’s Notes, Understanding First-Time Obedience)
When you consider that your child needs to obey you the first time you call his name, you can see how coming immediately is a very important factor. Here’s what immediate FTO looks like:
- You call your child’s name. (Just say his name. Don’t say, “Matthew, it’s time to pick up your toys.” Just say, “Matthew.”)
- You wait a short amount of time for him to stop what he’s doing.
- He says, “yes, mommy?” and comes to you.
- He gives you eye contact when he comes and waits for your instruction.
That’s it! It’s so simple. When you think that first-time obedience can play out in our lives in so many ways, it can be overwhelming. But when you narrow it down to just him coming to you at the call of his name, it’s very simple.
Once you have achieved this immediate FTO (we’ll get into the other components in future posts), you’ll start to see this heart of submission carry over into other areas of your day.
Not coming immediately
While this training seems so simple, you must think through the scenarios where your child might challenge your authority and not obey you the first time. It can be subtle or overt, so let me give you some examples of what not coming immediately looks like. You call your child’s name and:
- He says “yes?” when he clearly knows he is to say “yes, mommy” or “yes, mom.”
- He says “hmm?” or “yeah?”
- He says “yes, mommy” but doesn’t come to you.
- He says “yes, mommy” and comes to you but doesn’t look you in the eye.
- He comes to you and says nothing.
- He says “yes, mommy” but keeps doing whatever he is doing.
- He says “yes, mommy, but I need to finish this one last thing.”
- He says “yes, mommy” and looks you in the eye but doesn’t come to you.
What this requires of you
To set yourself up for success in your FTO training, you need to expect a few things of yourself:
- You train yourself not to tell your child what you need from him when you call his name. You say his name only and then wait for his response.
- You don’t call his name casually without waiting for a response.
- You don’t repeat his name when he doesn’t respond. First-time obedience is exactly that. It’s not second- or third-time obedience.
- You make sure your child can hear you when you call his name.
- You call his name and expect FTO whether you need something from him or have something to offer him. Don’t let him learn that every time you call his name, he’s going to have to stop playing and do some chore he doesn’t want to do. Call his name before going to the park or offering him a cookie.
Go back to the posts I mentioned above for more on this.
In my next posts, I’ll discuss the other two components of FTO training which are coming completely and without complaint.