You bring your beautiful newborn baby home from the hospital and spend lots of time snuggling her and caring for her. The first three months are a breeze…she pretty much sleeps most of the day. Then she starts to experiment with pushing herself up on all fours, then crawling, then walking…and all the while you celebrate.
And then it happens.
This precious baby-turned-toddler learns that she has a will of her own and begins to use it against you. She realizes that she can actually tell you NO and that she doesn’t have to do what you say!
This is where you are tested. Do you know how to respond? You must...otherwise, you’ll just react. And we want to be parents who train, not just react. This is the best place to start training first time obedience from the get go. If you don’t, you’ll end up in the situation I’ve been in and have to do it when they are a little older. Not fun…but still possible!
So how do you train your kids to obey the first time? One thing I’ve learned about children is that they come into the world pre-programmed to be trained. Proverbs 19:21 tells us to “train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it.” I think the key here is the word train. It’s an action word. We know that our kids won’t obey by themselves; in fact, there is another Proverb that says that if we leave children to themselves, they will bring us shame!
To train your kids to obey the first time, you need to first adopt the right mentality. You are the government of your home, and your children must come under you. They must obey, period. It’s not just your law or personal preferences you are enforcing, it’s the law of God. It’s God’s heart that children obey their parents because it’s right (Ephesians 6:1).
We moms enforce this because we know what’s best for kids; they don’t. They are hopelessly selfish. Without our continuous guidance, that selfishness will not be driven out of them.
So. Let’s get down to business.
Require first time obedience
I think a mistake a lot of us make is that we don’t require first time obedience. I know I didn’t! We would love for our kids to obey the first time, but we a)don’t require them to, or b)don’t know how to require them to. And a failure to do this makes every other area of training harder!
Imagine that you live on some property with a fence around it, but the fence is a mile away from the house. That’s a pretty far distance, right? Now imagine a house with the fence only 5 feet away from the house. The difference between these two houses is the distance of the fence from the house.
I think the house with the far away fence more accurately reflects what a lot of us do as parents. It displays how far we let our kids push the limits. We tell our kids to do something and they don’t do it or they argue, whine, or complain. We tell them again, maybe with some irritation this time. They may or may not carry out our orders, or they may do it with an attitude. We might even find ourselves telling them a third time, with threats.
Is this your scenario? Then I recommend you tighten the belt (so to speak) and become the house with the closer fence. If you tell them to do something and they don’t do it, then immediately give a consequence. Which takes me to my next point…
Give immediate correction
If a command you give is not immediately obeyed, you must give immediate correction. Remember, you want to see first time obedience, so you have to train with that end in mind!
I can tell you from firsthand experience that if you allow your kids to push the fence all the way out, you will despise what you’ve allowed them to become. I promise. Because what mom doesn’t get irritated when she has to tell her kids multiple times to do something? Or when she knows there is going to be an argument over her command?
So if you give your child an order and there is any delay at all, here’s what you can do: if you choose to spank your child, then you can do so, and then repeat the order you gave. If you don’t spank, then you can use some other form of punishment (like telling them they are going to bed 5 minutes early or making them do another task) and then repeat your command.
Train what you want to see
If your child agrees to do what you commanded but has a poor attitude, then show her exactly how she needs to respond. Sometimes kids need to see exactly what to do or hear exactly what to say.
After the child has completed whatever task you have given her and returned, you can hug her and instruct her briefly. You can say, “Remember, when Mommy tells you to do something, you say ‘Yes ma’am’ and do it right away, ok?”. This helps them to focus their minds on what they need to do.
My husband and I used to be extremely negative as parents. It was awful! We didn’t realize that’s what we were doing! We would constantly tell the kids what they were doing wrong. Thankfully we learned that what we were doing was very counterproductive and that we needed to be focusing our kids on what they need to do. Our kids need our help to walk in right paths!
Give them continuous love and acceptance
Lastly, it’s important to settle in your mind that you are for your children. They are not your enemies. You are not against them. This will help you constantly give them the “sunshine” of your love and acceptance that they need.
I’ve experience firsthand what happens when my children feel that they are constantly under my disapproval. They become very difficult to deal with, and boy do they fight with each other! I believe kids feel insecure when their parents don’t show them that they love and accept them, and the children show it.
We really do have to be careful of overcorrecting our kids. They do a lot of things wrong. A LOT. But what’s most important is that your kids have a solid understanding of your love and acceptance toward them.
If you find yourself constantly irritated with your kids, the best place for you to start is to change your mentality. Our emotions are often just a product of our thinking. Determine that you are for your children and that you understand that they need training. If you still feel angry, at least force yourself to speak calmly (this has worked for me 100% of the time!). Overall, we want our kids to receive the instruction we give them, not resist it. It’s to their benefit to be trained properly. So let’s make sure we do what we need to do-smile at them, hug them, compliment them-it empowers their hearts to receive!
I hope this helps any mama who feels frustrated. With a little bit of knowledge and understanding, you can turn your home into a haven of peace 🙂
Great post, do you think there is an age when you should start enforcing this? Or should it be the expectation from the beginning.
Hi Sarah! I think that teaching your children to obey their parents should just be taught as a way of life from the very beginning. I think what often happens is that we allow so many things to slide that we can end up arguing/trying to coerce them into submission later.
This moved me to tears! Thank you.
Thank you for this word of encouragement! 🙏🏼
Confirmation I’ve been on the right path and this was just a reminder to not give up and stay consistent for desired results. Amazing post!!!
I’m glad you were encouraged! Blessings!
I loved reading this! Maisy is starting to push the limits a little more and I’ve been praying for wisdom in this area. Thanks for writing about this!