A New Kind of Countdown . . .

Do you “count” you kids down?

You know, you tell them to do something and they don’t do it.

So you say, “One . . . ”

The implication is that you have told them once and you are keeping track, so you must really mean it. Or something.

Then you tell them again, and you say, “That’s two,” a bit more firmly.

Then you tell them again, and you say,  “Don’t make me get out of this chair!” They yawn.

And the countdown begins again.

The children learn they do not have to do anything you say because what you say does not really mean anything at all, and your frustration level escalates.

Well, I was at a craft show this weekend and met a lady who “counts” her grandsons and it is all different. I liked it.

She has taught these two boys to repeat a chant with her. It goes like this:

–Grandmother: One.

–Grandsons: One–I am going a wrong way.

Grandmother: Two.

Grandsons: Two–I need to find a different way.

You may wonder where the expected “three” is. On “three” she gets out of her chair. That’s one reason this method works.

(However, as a child, I am sure I would have been saying inside myself, “Three–I need to get OUT of the way!”)

As I observed these boys I marvelled. They had been without Mom for a week and were at a boring craft fair where it was not appropriate for them to do anything. They shared one toy truck and played on the ground with it.

When one boy decided to drive the truck on the sidewalk, Grandmother perceived he was causing a tripping hazard for the shoppers. So she told him to stop and return to the grassy places where her tent was.

He did this only briefly, then strayed to the sidewalk again.

Then she said, “One.”

He replied, “One–I am going a wrong way,” and he sighed, returning to the grass.

In less than a minute his toy truck had strayed again. And Grandmother said, “Two.”

He answered, “Two–I need to find a different way.” Then my jaw dropped, I am sure, as he calmly walked over to his brother, handed him the toy, and wryly said, “See if you can keep this thing off the sidewalk. I can’t.”

I imagine these two little guys, someday at age 35 or so, filling out a tax form or zipping down a highway, temped to “forget” some benefit or accelerate too much, and hearing Grandmother say to them, through the ages, “One . . . “

Published by Katharine

Katharine is a writer, speaker, women's counselor, and professional mom. Happily married over 50 years to the same gorgeous guy. She loves cooking amazing homegrown food, celebrating grandbabies, her golden-egg-laying hennies, and watching old movies with popcorn. Her writing appears at Medium, Arkansas Women Bloggers, Contently, The Testimony Train, Taste Arkansas, Only in Arkansas, and in several professional magazines and one anthology.

6 thoughts on “A New Kind of Countdown . . .

  1. My count was always to three. I used it with my kids and in my class when I taught school (5th grade). I never went beyond three and I never started over. It works. No pleading, no yelling, a lot less frustration. I did not do as the grandmother above, and I really like her approach. It adds one more element that involves the child acknowledging that s/he has to change something. I wish I had known that piece of the puzzle, but keeping the count to three was very effective none-the-less. Thanks for sharing. I think I’ll pass this on to my kids.

    1. Thanks, Cecelia! I appreciate your kind words. I do think there is a lot of merit in the method. I would want, though, a way to indicate to the child to obey instantly, for times when instant is important, like near a highway. No time for counting, sometimes. She was so quiet, I suppose a raised voice would be appropriate for an oncoming car or something like that. But I, like you, wish I had known of this method years before. I like the way it requires the child to think.

  2. Love that—especially the comment the boy made to his brother. I burst out laughing at that one. Yes the grandmother is one wise lady. They will hear her wise voice in their minds forever, I would think. Why? She has taught the boys how to be proactive and take charge of their own transgressions….with as few words as possible. Thank you for sharing that!

    1. And I thank you, Kate, for this comment!

      I never did “count” my kids, but did allow them to think out loud, as in giving them a reason when the rules had changed, or asking them if they had a good reason for what they did. Sometimes, they did; usually not. I often asked, “So, when are we supposed to leave toys on the stairs–when we are tired? No? Then WHEN?” There may be a good time, but they never thought of one. 🙂

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