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July 9, 2014 | Parenting

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!

This post was proudly featured at:
Weekend Wind-Down The Pin-it Party!

This post may or may not have been linked at these Fabulous Parties!


Other Resources to Consider:

Positive Parenting SolutionsKids Not Listening? Don’t Count on 1-2-3!. [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].

Stop The Tantrums. 2012. Why Counting to Three Doesn’t Work. [ONLINE]
Available at:
[Accessed 08 July 14].

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


  1. Antionette Blake says: July 12, 2014

    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.

    • Stacy says: July 15, 2014

      *grin*… You’ll be counting the hours to when he gets home on breaks from college!! Thanks for the feature 🙂

  2. I always try to give little ones a choice. Even if the other option is obviously something they would not prefer. Thanks for sharing! Hello from Merry Monday!

    • Stacy says: July 15, 2014

      Thank you for stopping in. I love when I give the choices to my daughter. Her face looks so funny! ~Stacy

  3. Treana says: July 14, 2014

    LOVE LOVE LOVE. What great tips. Thanks so much for sharing on Merry Monday! -Treana @

    • Stacy says: July 15, 2014

      Thank you! ~Stacy

  4. Bobbi says: July 14, 2014

    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 !

    • Stacy says: July 15, 2014

      Thank you Bobbi!

  5. Jillian @ Baby Doodah! says: July 14, 2014

    Great post!! Really got me to think since we use counting to three with my almost 2 year old. I like the idea of giving him an option in which what I need done, get done.

    Visiting from Merry Monday Linky Party!

    • Stacy says: July 15, 2014

      Thank you for sharing! When my children were little, someone shared the whole notion with me. I wanted to pass it along!

  6. Cynthia says: July 18, 2014

    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.

    • Stacy says: July 19, 2014

      Thank you Cynthia for stopping by. I don’t have small children anymore either but I do have grandchildren. It’s so much easier to look back with hindsight! Cheers ~Stacy

  7. Kristi D says: July 19, 2014

    Thanks for the great post! Featuring today on Klover House! xo

    • Stacy says: July 19, 2014

      Thank you for the feature! I’m glad that the post seems to be getting positive feedback. Blessings, Stacy

  8. michelle says: July 20, 2014

    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

  9. Kimberly Lewis says: July 21, 2014

    Love this! Pinned. Hugs! Lou Lou Girls

    • Stacy says: July 24, 2014

      Thank you! ~Stacy

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