First-Time Obedience: Balance the Good with the Bad

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By Maureen Monfore,

 If you follow Valerie’s blog, you are likely no stranger to the idea that establishing authority and requiring respect from our children must form the basis of our parenting. When they are little, we lead by our authority. It’s when they’re older that we can lead by our influence and establish a friendship with our children.

But establishing an air of authority and respect can be difficult. We want to hold a position of power over our children, but at the same time, we don’t want to frustrate or alienate our children.

It’s for this reason that it is so important to balance the good with the bad when training our children in first-time obedience (FTO). I have discussed first-time obedience training here and on my own blog at length. But here’s a quick refresher:

  • You call the child’s name
  • The child replies with a “yes, mommy” or other similar response
  • The child looks in your eye from across the room or comes to you when he’s in another room
  • The child responds to the call of his name with an attitude of submission and willingness to comply with any instruction you give

There is much more to FTO training than meets the eye, but you get the idea. (For more, visit my blog or check out my e-book.)

When we balance the good with the bad, the goal is to keep our kids on their toes and to establish a habit of first-time obedience.

So it’s essential that we watch our tone when calling the child’s name. Keep it positive. Don’t say their name with a berating or threatening tone. If he hears that you are unhappy with him, he won’t want to respond.

By the same token, call his name when you have positive things to offer. Don’t get into the habit where every time you call his name, he knows you’ll be asking him to do something he won’t want to do. He will stop responding.

Rather than just calling him when you have a task for him to complete or when you need him to stop a particular behavior, call him and get your “yes, mommy” and eye contact when offering a cookie, suggesting a trip to the park, or even just asking for a hug.

When you balance the good with the bad, he will be much more likely to comply.

Maureen Monfore is a mother of two young boys, a freelance writer, and the author of and the eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience. A loyal follower of the teachings of Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, she is passionate about teaching children to obey to pave the way for fun, love, learning, and essential moral development.


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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Scat6879
    October 12, 2012 / 6:16 PM

    I love the teaching and training by the Ezzos, and have had the privilege of nanny a family that lived that way with FTO and responding with 'Yes Mommy'. Now I have 2 babies- one 18mos and one 5 weeks, when do I start doing FTO with my older one? She obeys very well and responds to the word Obey, but she can't quite say, 'Yes Mommy' I've been working with her to say 'Ok Mom' when I tell her something. When do I start discipline for not obeying the first time? Should I have more frame for it now because she doesn't quite communicate clearly or do I discipline right away and teach her that way?? Thank you 🙂

  2. Carrie Aultman
    July 4, 2017 / 6:22 PM

    Wondering the same thing. 18 mo twins. They don't say many words yet.

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