By Bethany Lynch, TheGracefulMom.com
As a mom with a full-time occupation outside the home, I am still quite passionate about requiring first-time obedience. Sometimes that means we have to put in a lot of effort to require first-time obedience or address the lack thereof very promptly. We often do not have all day to work on attitudes, so it feels like we have to work double time. It is extremely tempting to make excuses for not working on it…I have already put in over 8 hours of work outside of the house, people will understand that I have been gone, I feel guilty for being gone so I let my children get away with more, and so on.
I try really, really hard to limit that line of thinking. I knew before we had children that we believed in first-time obedience, and I knew that I would most likely have a full-time occupation. The only surprise was just how much time it can take to reinforce obedience. I think one of the hardest times to require first-time obedience is in public or in front of others.
When I have limited time to run errands, the last thing I want to have to do is leave my cart full of carefully selected items to take a screaming toddler out of the store. When we actually find a night to get together with friends, it is so easy to let children run around like tornadoes just so the adults can talk for a few uninterrupted minutes. What if we come across as overly strict in front of others?
I can tell you from skilled personal experience it is well worth it to take the high road and stick to your beliefs. Don’t give in just because it is hard or uncomfortable to work on obedience in front of others. The after-effects and amount of work that is required to make up for giving too much freedom can take a lot more time than I have to give.
Here are some of the ways we have decided to handle first-time obedience in front of others:
- Foremost, we try to stay rested ourselves. There is no way a tired mama can properly deal with disobedience when she is exhausted. Make sure you get the sleep you need, and you will have much more energy to work on FTO and other priorities.
- Be prepared ahead of time. Maureen has written before how to stay consistent and recommends having rules for being out in public. Whether it is an immediate consequence now or later, know ahead of time how you will respond. Ideas could include: hand folding (we use this a lot! Even my 2 yo is learning), loss of privilege to talk, time out away from others or in car, no special treats. Note: I would not recommend buying treats often on trips so that you end up bribing or threatening.
- Prep your kids before going to someone’s house or the store. Don’t give threats or set them up for failure, but simply encourage them to follow the rules. Go over what is expected and how they should handle any particular situations. If they are struggling with hitting, for example, go over other options to express their frustration instead of hitting…not that we have ever struggled with that.
- Act. You prepared to be consistent. Your kids knew the expectations. Now it has to be enforced. Consistency of the parent is parallel to the expected consistency of the child to obey. If both parents are there, I believe one parent should handle the consequence immediately. We have done timeouts outside of the furniture store, outside of the pizza restaurant in winter, oh and timeouts at the wedding this past weekend with all of our extended family watching to see how we handled it. Many times both parents are not there so Maureen also has given ideas on how to do timeouts at home after misbehaving in public.
- Praise your kids for making a conscientious choice to obey. This doesn’t mean bribing them with a small $1 toy every time you go to Target. Make sure you verbally take time to tell your kids how proud you are of the way they handled a challenging situation. For a 4-year old, keeping hands folded at someone’s house with breakable items is challenging so make sure they know you noticed!
It can be hard to follow through with others watching, but I promise they will remember the way that you followed through. You will not be the first mom to ask the manager to take her grocery cart, and your child will learn that you have consistent expectations.