Getting Kids to Listen Using the Five Second Countdown

Cartoon: Getting Kids to Listen Using the Five Second Countdown

Sometimes you ask your child to do something, and they completely ignore your request. How do you get them to listen — and to act?

One approach that seems to work well with our kids (currently 4 and 2) is giving them five seconds to comply with your request. For example: “You have five seconds to climb into the carseat or I’m going to put you in there myself.”

The five second countdown seems to work because it:

(1) Grabs hold of their attention. This is, in part, because your parental attention is 100% focused on the matter as well.

(2) Demands decisive action. Five seconds doesn’t give the kids much time to dither.

(3) Encourages autonomy. Children want to be autonomous. They often get embarrassed when a parent does something for them that they can do themselves. Usually when presented with chance to do it themselves versus have it done for them, they’ll take the self-directed direction.

Try the countdown method if you haven’t already. It might save you a bit of sanity.

Further reading: Dr. B and the Magical Countdown

Comments are closed.