Parenting Trick: The Power of Three

Often when people speak to me about their children’s non-compliance (over small reasonable requests), the dreaded word – consistency – pops up.

Consistency is an ideal and probably not what most parents can realistically manage – we all have bad days, we all have times when we’re not 100% focussed on what the children need us to be focussed on and many modern parents are busy to the point of exhaustion. Parenting experts harrassing us about consistency can make us feel guilty rather than empowered to do things differently.

The Power of Three is another Diane Levy strategy which I have adapted. This is to be used after every (OK, as many as you can manage and the more the better!) sleep or school (or any other ‘separation’) time. Make your first three reasonable requests in a conversational tone and make sure that compliance takes place (all the while ignoring any dramas). If the first three times of reasonable request are complied with after each separation time, you will find that other times of non-compliance lessen and over time will (largely) disappear.

My additive-extra goes like this: for every time we put up with rudeness; every time we given in to a demand to buy something; every time we accept unreasonable non-compliance – we will receive in response from our children at least three times more rudeness/demands/unreasonable non-compliance. (Non-scientific observation from our children and others around and about.)

Reasonable non-compliance might happen when a child is overwhelmed due to: feeling disconnected, sick, tired, hungry, scared or angry. There is little point in trying to achieve anything with a child in these states. What I do then is either deal with the issue (eye-contact and a hug, sleep, food, Boring Cuddle, or wait for the storm to pass) then make the reasonable request again.

Yes, this does mean I have to step over clothes some nights when I’d rather not. Yes, it does mean I don’t get to do things that I want to do from time to time. Yes, it does mean that I have to give the boys plenty of time to comply. Yes, it does mean that I have to be tuned in to their mental and physical state as much as possible. It also means that I can go shopping without resorting to bribery for good behaviour. It also means that they understand that their work doesn’t go away and that I will help (by providing what they really need) but not rescue them (by doing the work for them). It means that our boys understand how to behave when they visiting others or at school.

 Remember the Power of Three – it’s a short-cut to consistency!

(Should you find this article useful, Koha is accepted, $1 is fine. The button is under my blog-roll. :) )

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About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I have written the books I wish I'd had to read BEFORE I had children ('All About Tantrums - Why we have them How to prevent them What to do when they happen' and 'Why People Drive You Crazy - Pt 1 A Fresh Look at Temperament') I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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10 Responses to Parenting Trick: The Power of Three

  1. Blaxter says:

    Another post full of sane advice. Have you thought of publishing a book for parents? I like your reminder about reasonable non compliance and about consistency. The latter is something my clients crave.

    • Thanks Blaxter. Yes, ebooks are in the pipeline, but just not happening as fast as I would have liked – real life keeps interferring! Great to have your continued support. :)

  2. Marcy says:

    I’m afraid I don’t get it — make three requests after every separation and make sure they comply? I can see that IF they do comply, it reinforces compliance — but if you’re dealing with non-compliance to begin with, how do you “make sure they comply,” and do you somewhat artificially come up with three requests to make each time?

    • Hi Marcy,
      I love that you make me clarify what I’m saying…!
      What I meant was: concentrate on getting compliance the first three times they don’t want to comply (after each separation time)…
      If there’s only one time of non-compliance just deal with that one time, you don’t have to artificially create anything.
      Hope this helps,
      Have a great day. :)

  3. adhdwith3 says:

    How are you doing? I haven’t been blogging for a while, but I’m determined to come back!

  4. Lauren says:

    Great post again Karyn!

    I have been struggling with Jensen the last couple of weeks, he has really started to push his will, he knows what he wants and he FIGHTS to get it.

    I am definitely going to be putting this to the test :)

    • It’s a goodie and it takes the pressure off those of us (like me!) who struggle with the pressure to be great parents ALL the time. Let me know how it goes with Jensen. (Go the ALL Blacks!! Hee hee!)

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