Training in 1st-Time Obedience on Timely Tips on Tuesday

I’m treading on controversial ground today, but I have to touch on a subject which is crucially important to the future of the Christian family.

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“Ten Things To Make Your Children Mind.”

Why is it important for children to obey their parents the 1st time they’re spoken to?  I believe it is primarily because it’s a picture of the obedience that we are to give to our Heavenly Father’s instructions and commands.  “To delay is to disobey,” the saying goes.  Obeying their parents prepares children to obey their Lord and Savior.
No parent enjoys disciplining their children, really. You have to love them and be unselfish to discipline them consistently. The goal in discipline is that the child should learn to obey, and not need outside discipline, but be motivated from the heart to obey the Lord, and his parents. It’s good when the Dad administers the discipline,
but whether Dad or Mom, using a neutral object, such as a wooden spoon, is advisable.

The following is an excellent definition of “spanking” which Elisabeth Elliot gives in her book, “The Shaping of a Christian Family,” in which she recounts her own upbringing:

“A spanking is not child abuse. It is a deliberate measure of pain, delivered calmly, lovingly, and with self-control, on a loved child in order to deliver him from self-will and ultimate self-destruction.”

Administer “pain” in a calm, loving manner–in other words, spank a child–when they disobey, because God instructs us not to “spare the rod” or we’ll spoil the child. I’ve seen the wonderful results, in more cases than I could count, of grown, now happily married, “children” who were spanked, who are now raising their own children, and continue the practice of spanking their own children when necessary.

I am a firm believer in using a “neutral” object when spanking a child.  We used a wooden spoon, much like this one.

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child;
but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Proverbs 22:15

Before we talk about specifics in training in 1st-time obedience, I want to say this:  if you, as a parent, have not been expecting 1st-time obedience from your children–maybe you’ve become just a little tired of trying, or lax, or you’ve fallen into being a repeating parent, but now you are intending to start over and change your ways–you need to prepare your children for the change.  Don’t spring it on them.  Especially children old enough to converse with.  At a non-confrontational time, sit down with them and explain that you were wrong before, and God has shown you that it’s important for them to obey you the first time that you speak.  Ask their forgiveness for not disciplining them and training them as you should.  Explain clearly, and in detail, what will be expected from now on, and the consequences that will result if they disobey.  Give them the opportunity to ask questions.  Make the time loving.

Children, in order to obey, must know what they’re being asked to do, and must understand, on their level, what will happen if they choose to disobey.

The next time you have an instruction to give them or you need to tell them, “No”:

  • Speak the child’s name
  • Look them in the eye

For children who are around 3-years-old and up:

  • Give the instructions clearly
  • Keep them brief
  • Speak in a calm voice

and, for all children (as soon as you can teach them this)

  • Insist on a verbal response such as, “Yes, Mom,” or “Yes, Ma’am.”

Know what you’re going to say before you speak to them, or you’ll “lose them” while you’re trying to think of what you were going to tell them to do!

It will be easier and easier to speak in a pleasant voice as your children become more and more obedient.  It’s important to speak in a natural, pleasant manner, and especially so, if you’re implementing a new program, or have been accustomed to yelling in the past.  Requiring a verbal response gives assurance that they heard you.  It’s a kind of agreement from them. It’s also a safeguard against their saying, “I didn’t hear you!”  And it is very polite!

Now that you’ve given an instruction, and they’ve responded, expect them to obey.  If they, for some reason, need longer then 10 seconds to respond, they should ask your permission first.

If you have not been accustomed to this kind of behavior in children, then this may sound remarkable to some of you, but why is it any more remarkable that a child should obey the first time than that they should obey the 3rd or 4th time they’re spoken to?  It’s just what they’ve been trained to do.  I have found that the difficult person to train is not my child, but myself!


If they do not obey, consequences (which have been previously explained) should immediately follow.  Success in training children depends upon your consistency in following through.  You cannot leave any doubt as to whether you really mean it.  You might find that you will think twice before giving a command or instruction, knowing that you have to expect immediate obedience or administer correction.  That is a good thing!

Children 2 and Under

If you have very small children, 2 or under, it will probably take less time to train them to obey.  I pray that this motivates you to start very early with your training.  You’ll sometimes forget the consequences, and they might even remind you!  With younger ones you’ll need to plan some bite-sized concentrated times for training.  Set up “obedience training” and be prepared with your “rod” of choice to administer one flick to the back of their bare legs.  Try it on yourself first to see how it feels and how little is needed; it should sting, but it won’t damage. (For blatant defiance, I would take them quietly to their room or other private area, and administer the discipline to their bottom.  More on that at another time.)

After the correction has been administered, expect them to obey. They’re not off the hook.  If you remain calm and are consistent, they’ll soon learn that this is the way it is in your home, and they’ll obey consistently.  Always teach your children that their obedience to you is obedience to God and the Bible and it pleases and shows love to the Lord.

Speak of the reasons for their obedience, and quote Ephesians 6 and Colossians 3 to them.  Establish the motivation in their hearts to always want to please God by obedience.

Parents would enjoy their children and desire to have more of them and maybe even to Homeschool them if they, the parents, were more consistent in disciplining them and training them in 1st-time obedience.

Do you have a story of your young child feeling more secure by your loving discipline, and saying “No” to them–perhaps even requesting it? What success stories do you have to share of child-training your children, especially very young ones? Have you practiced blanket-training, for instance?
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*Disclaimer:  I am just a mom.  This is my story, but the Word of God must be your guide and give you answers–you and your husband are responsible to raise your children, with God’s help through His Word and prayer.   If you need advice on specific situations not addressed in this series, I advise you to go to your spiritual authorities (your pastor or elders).  If you are visiting for the first time, or for more on this subject, I recommend you read the other posts in this series.  (Just click on the links.)

Training in 1st-time Obedience on Timely Tips on Tuesday
Spanking (Part 1):  Child-Training Advice from An Older Woman
Spanking (Part 2):  Child-Training Advice from An Older Woman
Spanking (Part 3):  Child-Training Advice from An Older Woman

Spanking (Part 4):  My Story
Spanking (Part 5):  Do You Love or Hate Your Children?
Spanking (Part 6):  Something Really Important I Neglected To Say!
Spanking (Part 7) Restoration after Chastisement

8 Replies to “Training in 1st-Time Obedience on Timely Tips on Tuesday”

  1. I have a women’s retreat this weekend, and I’ll be praying hard for God’s grace to carry this out in my home. My kids are truly wonderful, but we’ve failed them with our laziness; my husband and I need to correct that and bring out their full potential so we can all glorify Him as often as possible. Thank you SO MUCH for this detailed article, Wendy.

    1. We, too, had to tighten the reins again (more than once) when we’d slacked off in our consistent discipline of our children. I love how you say the goal is to “glorify Him as often as possible.” I’ll be praying for you!

  2. This is beautiful. So well written. Thank you. I desire to be a “first time obedience” mommy. With God’s help and grace and my submission to Him – we’ll get there! Thank you for the loving reminder!

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