Why Should You Put in the Time to Get Your Kids to Obey the First Time?

Meagan Ramer

May 15, 2024

My husband, Eddie and I first heard about “First Time Obedience” in the parenting class, Growing Kids God’s Way. It seemed like a wonderful idea and I thought I could require it from our kids without any problem.  However, it began to feel unattainable when I started, unsuccessfully, to get my children to obey me at all, much less immediately, or the first time I gave them an instruction. This is especially true when our kids are used to an inconsistent environment, meaning you get on them when you are frustrated with their behavior, with no rhyme or reason to what they are doing or why. 

The Mom’s Notes session “Understanding First-Time Obedience” by Joey and Carla Link is the best thing that helped us understand what requiring obedience of our children looked like in our day-to-day life. Their examples of practical application really created a clear picture of how my husband and I needed to work with our kids to teach them how to obey. I’m not saying that it’s been all sunshine and rainbows since then, but I come back to this lesson over and over when I feel like something has gone awry at our home and it always challenges and encourages me to get back on it. It has been an absolute blessing to our parenting journey.

When you homeschool, it means that you are around your children more than not and a lot of things eventually just slip through the cracks. One of the things the Link’s encourage parents to do when this happens is ask yourself, “What percentage of the time is the child in question coming to you the first time you call her name?” and “What percentage of the time does this child/teen come to you with a good attitude when you call her name?” I write down what I think and ask my husband to as well. We then watch this daughter of ours for a couple days as the Link’s suggest you do and keep a tally of how many times she does come to us with a good attitude. Always, her actual percentage is far less than what we had first thought.

I can think that I am getting a good percentage of first-time obedience but in reality, I have stopped hearing their responses to me when I call them. I may get a response that is less than ideal, so it really doesn’t qualify, but in the busyness of life I let it go. It could also mean that I get all the correct responses, but the child doesn’t follow through with the given instruction. Or, it could mean that I’m not getting obedience at all! There is an example in the Mom’s Notes session, “Understanding First-Time Obedience” that mentions making sure that you get eye contact from the child when you are giving an instruction. THIS IS KEY!! Especially for our wiggly and distractable 7-year-old (who has the Sanguine temperament – the Link’s Zoom Temperaments class on this is wonderful and helped us to understand the nature of each of our kids!). If I’m in a hurry and don’t stop to make sure she’s looking at me when I give her an instruction, she often rushes off after saying “Yes Mom!” without having any clue as to what I’ve told her to do. Asking her to repeat the instruction back to me is very important as well. Sometimes even with eye contact, she will still completely miss what I said. 

At this point I often hear Carla’s voice in my head again, asking me, “What percentage of the time is this child coming to you the first time you call her name with a good attitude?” Usually I say to myself, “She comes.” When I call my children, they will answer right away. However, they will answer in various ways. Instead of saying, “Yes, Mom, I’m coming!” which we had taught them to do, it might be that they answer correctly but then never show up or it could be that they respond and show up immediately, but you could hear in their tone and see on their face their attitude was not attractive at all.

My problem was the part of Carla’s question I often ignore – “with a good attitude.” When we took the Growing Kids God’s Way parenting class with Joey and Carla, I remember Carla asking all of us how many times any of our kids followed through with the instructions we gave when they came to us immediately but had a bad attitude. The answer was a resounding “None of the time!”  Asking myself “What percentage of the time is the child in question coming to you the first time you call her name with a good attitude?” showed me how and where I needed to refocus this child’s obedience training.

I have learned that training my children to obey the first-time is a foundation stone that other character training builds off of. The continual process of bringing my children to obey when I call their name is a job that should always gain my attention when I realize it needs work. It affects all other aspects of family life in ways that you may or may not realize. 
Having the resource of this particular Mom’s Notes session has been a huge help for us. I still come back to it over and over because I need that audible reminder that while parenting is do-able, it does take work. I also need the reminder that I really shouldn’t settle for “good enough” because that’s only going to make everything else more difficult if not impossible.

“But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in Him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”1 John 2:5-6
Meagan and Eddie Ramer have 4 daughters, ages 7-18 years and live in Pineville, LA.
If you would like more information on taking the parenting class Growing Kids God’s Way, contact info@parentingmadepractical.com.
If you would like more information on the class, “How Temperaments Impact You, Your Spouse & Your Kids” click here.


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