“First time, with a smile!”


You know when you’re trying to get your kids to do something, and you find yourself asking them not just once, but twice, and then goodness knows how many more times? When I started on this journey of parenting, I told myself I would never let that happen to me. Well, over time, it did. Hah! So much for this hoity-toity.

Over the past weekend, Sweet Man and I learned something so wonderfully important that I just had to write a post about it.



It works something like this –

#1:  Have a Family Table Talk where all members of the family are present without any distractions.

#2: Explain to the Child that “First time, with a smile!” means that when Dad or Mom wants the child to do (or not to do) something, the child must obey at the very first time he/she hears the instruction, and obey with a smile. It also means that when Dad or Mom asks the Child to do something, Dad or Mom will ask only once, in a decent way, with a smile (also!). Dad or Mom will not plead, or do any cajoling, nagging or shouting. Children must respect what Dad and Mom say at the very first instance.

#3:  Try this immediately. Make sure you have the child’s full and complete attention first. Then instruct him accordingly. (Eg. Please put away your toy.)

#4: End the instruction with the phrase, “Now remember – first time, with a smile!” Then, smile at your child! (Try to smile!)

#5: If the child deliberately disobeys, do not start to plead, nag or shout. Mete out the consequences, such as sitting in a Time-Out corner, or withholding a privilege you know the child enjoys.


We did this on Saturday, Sunday and today, and the results have been amazing. There is so much more peace, understanding and obedience! Happy heart for everyone!!!

I hope this will last!

Have you tried this before in your family?  How is it working for you? What kind of other ways are you using to train your child in obedience?


  • adrenesews
    July 19, 2011 12:11 am

    Great idea!! Will try when baby turns ugly :p

  • Mama J
    July 19, 2011 2:12 am

    Oh it’s hard to imagine at the beginning how those cute babes can morphe into … less than cute! Nice to see you here again.

  • Ingrid
    July 19, 2011 7:38 am

    My friend has this up on her wall
    “Yes Mummy, I’ll obey, all the way, straight away, the happy way!”
    And they point to each of their fingers as they say it…

    I think the key Dave and I have to work on is the getting their full attention as we ask… we so quick get into bad habits of just barking out an instruction with out eye contact etc and then wonder why we find our selves needing to nag/ hearing so much whining/ lack of respinse.

    Thankyou for this lovely reminder! I like the simplicity!

  • mom2kiddos
    July 19, 2011 7:56 am

    Thanks for this. I’m losing my patience with the constant nagging I have to do to get my boy to keep his toys. He will usually do it when I ask but that is like putting 4 of his blocks back into the box and then he’d get distracted and starts playing again. *sigh*

  • Runnermom-jen
    July 19, 2011 9:38 am

    Oh boy…the timing of this post is incredible. I’m so tired of asking the kids to do things repeatedly. I am going to try this!!! Thank you for posting this…that big smile is contagious!

  • Mama J
    July 19, 2011 11:19 pm

    Oh that wall post is such a great idea. I’m going to try it myself!

    You’re so right – getting their full attention as we ask is the key, sometimes. With 3 kids on my hands now, it’s so easy to just call out an instruction from afar, without first checking to see if they’re so busy playing that my instruction might not really register with them. Sometimes, it isn’t fair to expect them to do what I want immediately, if they’re in the middle of an activity, and if what I want isn’t urgent. What helps, I’ve found, is to say, “Okay, 2 minutes more, then put the toys away and come for lunch.”

    Thanks so much for sharing! It’s great to know we’re on this journey together.

  • Mama J
    July 19, 2011 11:28 pm

    Recently, I had a table talk with the kids because, of late, they were beginning to turn me into Nagger Mom at meal times. Ugh!

    We agreed, kids and I, that if they take any longer than 30 minutes at their meals, I will not nag, and they will simply lose the opportunity to play outside after the meal. It’s been working for my 5 year old, working somewhat for my 3 year old (he gets fidgety when his sister finishes before he does). The only difficulty with that kind of consequence (removing outdoor play), is that the 3 year old gets more restless with unspent energy. Oops! Still working it out 🙂

  • Mama J
    July 19, 2011 11:31 pm

    You’re welcome. Looks like we’re all in the same boat here. Working on the happy heart is a big job!

  • Stasha
    July 24, 2011 1:56 pm

    I like this idea. Will try it on my son. But if it works, what will we talk about all day? Because right now we have 5 minute discussions over anything 😉

  • Mama J
    July 25, 2011 12:30 am

    Now that’s an interesting perspective, thanks! I’ll have to try more Discussions with my 3 year old fidgeter when “first time” doesn’t work.

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