Non-threatening 1-2-3 count

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There is one thing I don’t like hearing parents do to their kids. I hated it when I was a kid myself, I hate it now when I see it happen in public. You must know the routine. Little Johnny is asked to wrap it up an leave the playground, but he wants to play more. After a few unsuccessful attempts to convince Johnny to pay attention, the whole “I am going to count to 3 now” starts with an obligatory volume adjustment by going louder as numbers climb up. My mom used to do that, and it was terrifying. Intimidation and humiliation (if you’re in public) at its best.

When I had kids of my own I knew I was going to parent peacefully, and threatening kids with 1-2-3 wasn’t going to cut it because, honestly, what was I supposed to do when the counting was done and nothing changed? Spank them? Nope. Yell at them? Unlikely. Time-out? I don’t do that either. So, really, this wasn’t going to work for me for too many reasons.
And then I came up with a little game that actually worked with my kids. Say, I am asking my daughter to pick her toys up before we could go for a walk. She doesn’t want to, or she comes up with some excuse not to. And then I tell her that I will count to see how fast she can accomplish her task, and we will see if it is faster than the previous time we counted. She jumps up and starts picking her things with me counting, and then asks how fast she was this time. Perfect! And with two kids old enough to understand requests it becomes a competition. Same situation, we need to pick up toys. I say I am going to count and see who is the fastest, or picks up the most toys, etc. And if both of them still don’t want to (it happens), I tell them I am going to start first and compete against them to see who wins this time, and then I start picking things up with them joining in immediately.
By the way, they learned a lot of new numbers this way. Win-win!

Not saying it works 100% ALL the time due to different situations and circumstances, but it is a nice alternative to try instead of the other 1-2-3 scare tactic. Don’t you agree?

Photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simoes (Flickr)

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