Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Crazy Notion of First-Time Obedience

One day when our oldest son was three years old, we were leaving the grocery store. As we walked into the parking lot he was walking slightly ahead of the shopping cart I was pushing - full of his baby sister and our groceries.

Just as we stepped out into the road, I saw a terrifying sight out of the corner of my eye. A car - driven by some crazy teenager I believe - was careening around the corner and coming right toward us. A few more steps and a few more seconds and my little boy and the car would collide.

It was one of those moments when everything happens so quickly you don't even have time to think.

Instantly I said one word, "Stop". My son stopped immediately as the car went racing past - without a care in the world.

Just thinking of that moment eleven years ago still makes me shudder (and thank the Lord!). It also makes me realize I've become lax with later children in teaching first time obedience.

Today we took a break from morning school, headed out for the back of our property armed with a bag of jelly beans for some obedience practice.

In my childhood, this game was called "Red Light, Green Light". But in our family we just call it "Stop and Go". I want my kids to respond instantly when I say STOP.

You can tell the children were having an absolutely miserable time in this obedience training exercise...

Obedience training doesn't always have to be painful...although there are times that discipline is certainly necessary.

But a game like "Stop and Go" can be highly effective in teaching your child to instantly respond to mom's voice. Make sure your voice remains absolutely calm even in the game so the kids become accustomed to obeying without you having to yell. It helps if you put that into practice on a daily basis anyway.

If they move their foot even a bit after you say "Stop", they have to go back to the beginning. A little sibling competition and a jellybean reward made it fun for my 2yo, my 14yo and everyone in between.

The world will tell you that First-Time Obedience is a crazy notion. The world is wrong.

1. First-Time Obedience may save your child's life some day, just like it did for our oldest son. If he had kept walking while ignoring me, or kept walking while he said, "Why, Mom? Why?" he would have paid for it with his life.

2. First-Time Obedience conditions your child to respond to authority. I believe that if our children learn to submit when they are young, they will be much more likely to listen to God's voice as they grow older. Of course this isn't a sure guarantee - we know they are born with free will, but it's just part of the process of training them to listen to Him.

3. First-Time Obedience makes for a happy house! When I get lazy and don't require First-Time Obedience, it makes me stressed and impatient, it makes the children discontent because they never know how much they can get away with, and it makes the whole family less peaceful.

So stick with the training process! Don't get lazy! Focus on your long term goal.

"Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your heart."
Heb. 3:15 NAS

We're linked with Women Living Well and Big Family Friday!


Tewauna said...

This was so good and right on time! I like the idea of making a game out of it, that will be perfect for my little ones. Thank you for posting about it.

Nicole Auld said...

Amazing idea.We will give this game a go in our house. We will be trying it. Thanks for sharing. I am new to your blog. Saw your link up over on Courtney's blog. Yes when we do not get first time obedience life can be come stressful for everyone.
Nicole Auld

Lisa Marie said...

Great idea for the game. Maybe I'll give that a go at my place. :)

I definitely agree there are times that first-time obedience is life or death important.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that this is one of the best articles I have ever read on this subject. I am so overwhelmingly grateful to have tripped over this. Thank You!

The Pennington Point said...

We are on the same page! Great idea with the stop and go game. I love it! Lisa~

Shannon said...

This is a great idea! I will implement this with Evan. :) I must admit that after Ethan passed, we have become too lax in our discipline. That is all, with the help of the Lord, changing!

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