If you were anything like me, your parents counted to three, when you didn’t listen the first time, and now you do the same with your children. I see it everywhere, in the grocery store, at the shopping mall, the park. A worried mom asks her child to do something, only to be promptly ignored. Occasionally the mom will make the request a second and third time before resorting to “the count.” How many times have I also observed that even after counting, the little precious one finally says “ok, ok, I’ll do it” and is left with no consequence. Mission accomplished right? No. This is because usually the counting also comes the anger and the parent is about to flip their own lid.
Here’s the thing though. We can’t blame our children if we’ve have trained them to obey only after several warnings, which counting to 3 exactly is, and the accompanying frustration and disrespect we display toward our little ones only damages our relationship. The bitter pill is that it’s not their fault. It’s ours.
Counting to three, along with other repeated requests for compliance leads to frustration which then becomes our inducement to discipline, a far less worthy motivation than training our children in love.
“But how do I stop being so angry?” You asked. It’s simple. Don’t wait until it becomes a personal affront to you. Notice your internal emotion level and take care of the situation after you’ve made the request for the FIRST time. This is absolutely key and must be consistent. Make sure that your child has heard you, (gently lay a hand on his shoulder or say his name,) and give him a choice to obey or have consequences. You can whimsically sing “Oopsie,” and give him a consequence. “You can put your shoes on now or you can choose to skip the park today.” “You can do your homework or sit and stare at the wall for 5 minutes.” “You can put your shoes on now, or in the car. Which would you like?”
Each child is different in what works best, the bottom line is to make sure you’re connected with him in doing so. Show empathy and keep the tone loving. Then let the consequence do the teaching.
By insisting children obey the first time we make the request produces both happy children (because they know they have safe limits) and peaceful parents who really enjoy their children. Lot’s more about this under the Child Training category.