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Counting to Three



We don’t all to do it with our kids, but whether it’s counting up or down, a whole friggin’ lot of us parents have.

“I’m going to count to three!”

As with everything having to do with kids, results will vary wildly for this disciplinary time bomb. Some kids are “you had me at One” and snap-to-it fast, other kids dig deep stubborn trenches and test their boundaries along with your mental fortitude.

However effective or infuriatingly ineffective it is, everyone knows about Counting to Three, but there are several different techniques that you may not be familiar with.


Precision Timekeeping

This is when you count with precision engineering, never faltering, and consequences are promptly delivered after exactly two ticks and one tock. Like expensive Swiss timepieces, this flawless technique tends to be a little rare.


The Time Distortion

Your 1 starts with the W sound in normal time, but then it stretches and starts to gain Ns (Onnnnnne). The 2 comes out in slow-motion with several syllables added (TwooOooOooOoo). When you get to 3, time has been warped into molasses in winter, and you put as many Es into it as your lungs have the breath to manage.


Warning Fractions

You can teach a particularly rebellious kid some basic math concepts, too. “1… 2… 2 and a half… 2 and three quarters… 2 and five eighths…” Here’s a handy list for you to practice with so you can maximize this method.



Disciplinary Decimals

You can move on to decimals once your kid has discovered they can successfully ignore a fractional time-released threat of a punishment or the more vague or-else. “Two point one… Two point two…” You get the drift.


The Silent Showdown

They’ve made eye contact with your death stare. You raise your hand, fast and startling like quick draw pistol, or slow and ominous like an IRS audit. Whether you count up or down, they know what’s coming. Your fingers represent the last three seconds of your remaining patience.



The Booby Trap

Ooooonnneeee… THREE! You try to use the element of surprise to keep ’em guessing. With whatever calmness you can muster, you swiftly heft the little disobedient badgers into compliance while they wail no-fairsies about the 2 you skipped.


The Final Countdown

So. You’ve performed one of the above methods and it didn’t work, and you’ve decided to double-down and announce that you’re going to count again. I’d say “good luck” but you’ve already lost. Your kid is the dealer now, and the house always wins.


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