11/18/09
Amy

(Parenting) Counting to 3


We have all witnessed or experienced first hand the classic parental warning of counting to three. While I have sometimes seen it to be effective, I have more frequently seen the child try to push their limits as far as possible (i.e. waiting until “3” to do what has been requested) or the parents displaying increasing emotion as the count goes up. The rapid “1, 2, 3″ warning gives the child only enough time to feel either panic or rebellion, but not enough time to truly reconsider their actions. Ultimately, these behaviors usually do not produce the desired or effective response and the cycle continues.

Adding a simple twist to your count can introduce clearer communication and a calmer, more effective response.

If your child is not responding to something you have asked of them, simply state, “That’s a one.” Give them a moment to respond. If they still do not respond appropriately, give them a second warning with a calm, “That’s a two.” Give them a moment to respond. If they still do not respond appropriately, calmly state, “That’s a three”, immediately followed by the parental action you judge to be fitting in correcting the behavior.

This approach keeps the spirit of the interaction calm, yet clearly defined. The clear plan keeps the parent’s emotions low and the effectiveness up. For the child, it gives them defined and predictable guidelines as well as a brief opportunity to reflect on their action and change course.

*Tip – Give you and your child an adjustment period as the new count and expectations are established. Changes can take a little bit of time before becoming truly effective. Before long, you will find your child changing their behavior at the count of 2, and often even at the count of 1.

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