Blog Entry:

The Rule of Three

February 20, 2013

How many times have you resorted to yelling “on the count of three” when calling your children? I’d like to ask you to think about what you’re teaching.

When did your children come? On the count of one? The count of two? The count of two and a half? The count of two and three fourths? Or the count of three?

When we resort to this measure, we’re not teaching our children to come when we call, we’re teaching them to come on the count of three! We’re teaching them to come when they’re ready to come, not when we’re ready for them to come.

Three is a powerful number. Writers incorporate the rule of three because groups of three are more satisfying and memorable in prose. Designers use groups of three when arranging accessories, because the eye doesn’t separate a group of three objects the way a group of four tends to be divided in pairs. 

Three is a powerful number in parenting, too. Three of anything sets a pattern, good or bad. If we say ‘yes’ when we should have said ‘no’ three times in a row, our children will say that we ALWAYS say yes.

If we give in three times in a row to an unreasonable request, we’re sunk. We have now established a pattern that will take twice as long to undo as it did to establish.

How can you use the rule of three to your advantage in parenting?

When you find yourself in that ‘Wal-Mart moment’ with your young child, don’t give in. Not today, tomorrow or the next day. Your child will get the message that good things come to those who wait rather than those who wail. In the process you can incorporate the rule of three with how you control your emotions while your child’s emotions are out of control.

When your child says, “But I waaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnt it.” Rather than returning your child’s raised voice with your raised voice, bring your voice down a notch. With each shriek from your child, bring your voice down another notch. By the third confrontation, your voice should be at a whisper. Now, tell your child for the last time, “Not today” in a hushed whisper and then, be quiet.

Repeat this pattern during the next two trips to the store and you’ll be amazed that you will be able to regain your child’s respect which is what you lost when you first gave in.

The rule of three—powerful parenting!


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