There are so many times every day that I find myself hurrying my three-year-old to do something…brush his teeth, put his shoes on, get in the car, wash his hands, and countless other simple tasks that seem to take him forever. My adorable, yet oh-so-distractable son cannot get from point A to point B without getting side-tracked by C, D, E, F and G.
Initially, I tried to hurry him along with the well known “You have until the count of three” tactic, and sometimes it was effective, but I always felt like it made situations into a power struggle where we both ended up frustrated. So, I started looking for an alternative. And, you know what? I found something that works brilliantly for us. It’s so simple: count DOWN instead of UP.
Specifically, do what I call a Rocket Ship Countdown!
Here’s how it works:
Whenever I need Little Man to do something and he seems resistant, I’ll say, “Okay, let’s do a rocket ship countdown to get started. Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Blastoff!” Most of the time he gets going by the time I get to two and chimes in with “Blastoff” when it’s time. If he doesn’t respond by blastoff, he knows I will pick him up and fly him like a rocket wherever I need him to be.
Why it’s effective:
Yes, I know I’m still counting, but somehow by associating it with rockets shooting into outer space, it becomes fun instead of demanding. I try to keep my voice positive and treat it like a game, so he wants to be involved. It doesn’t always work, but it really gets results most of the time. I have saved myself from hours of whining and staved off quite a few tantrums by simply counting down instead of up.
Try it out!