Stop Counting to 3 & Start Teaching Responsibility

Stop Counting to 3 and Start Teach Responsibility | Reasons why you shouldn't count to three with an alternative for teaching responsibility. | #Children #Parenting #Behavior |Huddlenet.comWhen it comes to parenting, we all have our opinions. Spanking vs. No Spanking. Co-sleeping vs. Crying it out. Cloth vs. Disposable. Formula vs. Breast. Yeah, there’s a lot of decisions to make and wade though.

Right from the get go we instinctively want to make sure our children grow up to be productive, contributing and responsible adults. We read magazines & books, listen to friends and use the skills handed down to us from our own parents.

One seemingly innocent parenting skill, is to count to three. The purpose of which is that if your child doesn’t respond within that count, an appropriate punishment would be handed out. In this we believe we are teaching responsibility.

While we’re certainly teaching that disobedience has consequences, there is an unfortunate side effect in using this method. Let’s start with that pitfall.

The Pitfall

– We all know that before the age of five, children absorb and learn faster and easier than at any age. Repetition and patterns teach us better than anything else. Have you ever watched a children’s educational program? They repeat the same numbers, letters, colors, etc. over and over throughout the same program because it helps it to stick.

This includes when our children watch us. Anything we do repeatedly will be a lesson learned for them. If I consistently say “I don’t like spinach”, my 3 year old is quite likely to say the same thing. If I consistently count to three, my child learns they have at least 3 more seconds to do as they like.

The Disadvantage

– Other adults in our children’s lives will not give our children the advantage of being told to do something multiple times without there being repercussions. Teachers will call you for conferences and bosses will have no tolerance for such behavior.

Teaching Responsibility

– Ideally, we want our children to respond immediately. Begin by stating clearly what we want our child to do. Use short sentences for younger children. Be specific and age appropriate. Keep your voice calm.

If your child tells you no or doesn’t respond, present them with a responsible choice. For example, “You can go brush your teeth by yourself or I can help you brush your teeth.” Either way, what you want is getting done and you are giving your child choice to be responsible.

With older children, the statement might present like this, “If you do the dishes now, you can go to your friend’s house this weekend. If you choose not to then you will stay home.” Again they are making a choice.

Important Note

– I want to return to the notion that we want our children to respond to us immediately. This is especially important with our toddlers. I can’t count (pun intended) the number of times I’ve watched a mother start counting when her little one is running away from her. The danger here is that at some point this little pint sized monster may run into the street and be hit by a car. I know this may seem extreme but it is a very real possibility.

I truly believe teaching responsibility to our youth is one of the most important things we can do for the future. I’d love to hear your thoughts about counting to 3 as a parenting skill, even if it differs from mine!


Other Resources to Consider:

Positive Parenting Solutions Kids Not Listening? Don’t Count on 1-2-3!. [ONLINE]
Available at:
[Accessed 08 July 14].

The Kid Counselor. 2009. Discipline Tip- Stop Counting to Three!. [ONLINE]
Available at:
[Accessed 08 July 14].

The Conservative Parent. 2013. The Reason to Stop Counting to Three. [ONLINE]
Available at:
[Accessed 08 July 14].


  1. Well my “baby” is 18 and heading to college in the Fall and I don’t remember counting to 3 – but I do remember spanking that butt! Thanks for sharing at this week’s #WWDParty and I have selected you as one of the Featured Bloggers.

  2. I use to do the counting thing with my kids. At some point I figured out it wasn’t working and started the “choices” route. That did work pretty good. I see my kids using that as well.

    Thanks for sharing !

  3. Cynthia

    Although my daughter is all grown up now, I still enjoyed reading this. You raise some good points. I agree that it’s good to give children choices so that they can see that they have responsibility for their actions. Thank you for linking at the In and Out of the Kitchen Link Party. Hope to see you again next week.

  4. michelle

    I love this post!! great post and i totally agree with you I always used counting and mad would that make me mad when he didn’t responded right away so i would just keep counting then one day i was like enough of this craziness you have 2 choices and i give them his two choices and he sure moves his little butt in gear!! lol i love this post!! now if someone could please give me tips on a 5 year old boy who now thinks he is boss of the whole world that be great haha he turned 5 a few months ago and the day of his bday he has decided he was boss period lol im trying to work on it but sadly it isn’t helping i even did groundings from tv games and toys and even outside he will not listen haha oh well im just hoping it passes when he starts school or i really feel bad for that teacher hahaha non the less love this post and gotta love our babies and the crazy they bring us through =D

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