The One-Time Rule Trick

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The One-Time Rule Trick is one of the most important tricks I use because it can literally be life-saving.  I’ll explain why it can be life-saving in a moment but before I do let me tell you what it is.  The trick means that you show your kids that you expect them to obey you after saying something to them one time and one time only.  If they hear you ask them to do something one time and they don’t do it after one time, they are in violation of your order and they can, and probably should, be punished somehow.

Now that I told you what the trick is, let me admit to you that I haven’t consistently enforced this rule lately.  For the past six months or so I have been lax about this and that’s not good for me or my kids.  What happens when kids hear you ask them to do something and they don’t do it immediately can best be illustrated by the example cited below.

Father: Elena, pick up your toys.

Elena: Ok, I’ll do it later.

Father: Elena, I told you to pick up your toys now.

Elena: I’m busy playing Barbie.  I won’t forget.  I’ll do it later.

Father: Elena, I told you to do it now.  Now is now.

Inevitably Elena starts crying, you get aggravated and all sorts of domestic chaos ensues.  In my book, all children who don’t obey their parents after one request are simply going to have a stronger likelihood of growing up defiant to authority.  If defiant child like Elena, (my six year old daughter’s real name), has a brother and/or sister who’s observed this type of delayed obedience, you’re going to suffer even more because we all know that kids mimic their siblings’ behaviors.

When I first learned this rule seven years ago at a local church parenting class, the instructor mentioned to us that teaching your kids quick obedience can be life-saving.  The other day I was reminded of that truth because my recent lax enforcement of the One-Time Rule almost cost my son Jonathan a serious injury or worse.  My wife and I had just christened our daughter Briani at a local church when my son starting fooling around in the middle of a small street in front of the church.  He was playing with his cousin, running around the street when I noticed the danger of passing cars and immediately asked him to get off the street.  Jonathan didn’t acknowledge me and continued playing in the street until a car abruptly stopped in front of him, almost hitting him.  My failure to enforce the One Time Rule could have been very tragic.

Beyond being life-saving trick for your children, I think the One-Time Rule is great because it teaches your children to comply with rules and expected behaviors that can lead them to success in the classroom, at work and in other settings where respect for authority and institutions is rewarded or necessary.  This week, as we head into a long weekend, I am going to go back to consistently enforcing the One-Time Rule Trick.  I encourage you to test this trick out and let me know how it’s worked for you.  I promise it will!

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