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All Parent Must Know, What Is The Rule Of 3 In Parenting?

What is the rule of 3 in parenting? People always want to know how to solve the biggest parenting problems. And the rule of 3 helps with that. So, let's talk about that in this article. To understand the rule of 3 and how it works, first, you have to understand the principles and the philosophy behind the rule of 3. 


So, the rule of 3 is based on the concept that everyone can learn to control themselves, that really the biggest beast that we have to conquer isn't the other person that's in the room but ourselves. So, I teach Self-Government. Self-Government is being able to determine the cause and effect of any given situation and possessing a knowledge of your own behaviors so that you can control them. That means that a person understands cause and effect as it relates to their behaviors and their relationships. A person analyzes their own behaviors and their connection to the other people around them. And the person chooses to be the best version of themselves. 

That's what it means to govern themselves. To do that, you have to conquer yourself. It's not about gaining power over the other person in the room or the person who you think is telling you something you don't like. It's about gaining power over yourself and being that person that you know you need to be in the moment when tension is high. In the Teaching Self-Government parenting model, we talk about the different skills that people need to master themselves.

We teach children 4 basic skills. The most basic of the 4 basic skills is the skill of Following Instructions. So, if a person cannot follow instructions from themselves or will not follow instructions from themselves or others, then that person is what we call "out of instructional control". That means they will not follow instructions. They are choosing not to at that particular time. There are 5 steps to following an instruction that I've taught all my children, foster children, and all the people that I teach when I teach parenting around the world. Those 5 steps are to look at the person, keep a calm face, voice, and body; say okay or ask to disagree appropriately, do the task immediately, and then check back. So, if a person says okay but doesn't keep a calm face, voice, and body, they're technically not following instructions. So, if a person will not allow themselves to do all 5 of those things together combined into that following instruction skill, then they are choosing to be out of instructional control. Or we could just say they're out of control. 

They're not directing themselves and nobody else can give them instruction either. Normally, when a child doesn't follow instructions, a parent would do a normal correction. Just a regular run at the mill effective correction. Now, there are 7 steps to doing an effective correction. And there are 7 steps to accepting a consequence. The child knows all of these steps. And the parents know these steps too. The self-governed person knows the plan before they ever take action so they would know all the skills that the parents are going to be using and that they need to use to be in control of themselves and to solve any of their problems. 

Sometimes when we correct our children, they don't want to accept their consequences. They don't want to be calm or maybe they feel like they simply can't yet. Well, then they need some help calming down. Now, we can use calm down places if they're little, there's a certain way that I do that and prepare to use that trigger spot to get themselves calm. But sometimes when they get a little bit older especially, they need someone to help talk them through it to help them shift from the midbrain or back brain if they've gotten really emotional to the front brain. So, this process of using the rule of 3 is the process of helping a person shift from the middle back brain to the front brain. And it's doing it calmly. Because here's the thing: If you get angry and out of your control at your children while you're trying to help them calm down, do you think it's going to work? The answer is no. It absolutely is not going to work. So, we have to keep ourselves calm. That means we've got to know what to say. 

We have to have the words planned ahead of time. And if our children know those words ahead of time too, then they will have the confidence in our ability to help them to get to that calm place. They will also have less anxiety because it's predictable. So then they can take more deliberate action at controlling themselves instead of feeling like they needed to be pushing against us. About calmness, calmness is essential for this rule of 3 to work at changing the heart of the child. Your heart has to be in the right place. If you feel like you'd like more help with your calmness so that that key ingredient is really working for you. So, this is how the rule of 3 works. 

The rule of 3 is basically a series of 3 things you do them 3 times in a row. So, you give a pre-teach which is a preparation for the child so they know what's coming, what to expect, what negative and positive consequences that they are going to earn if they don't follow the instruction that they're going to be giving. And it is done in a way that gives them that merciful time to prepare to get calm and to follow that calming instruction. Then the second step is to give them an instruction. Now, I usually always use calming instruction so that they can use that opportunity to get calm. Because this is the whole point. The point is that whatever they're angry about, we're not going to talk about that anymore. Now, we are just going to talk about calmness until we get to a place where everyone is calm. Because I have a cardinal rule --we do not talk about it until you are calm. In fact, I'm known for saying, "It seems to me you want to tell me something. I want to know what that is. But we need to choose to be calm first then we can talk about it.

So after you do a good pre-teach and you've given instruction in a way that's assertive not "Will you please..." That's not assertive. That's passive. But if you say, "I need you to __" and then follow it up with the instruction that would be a calming instruction, then you allow them to do all 5 steps of following an instruction. If they don't do all 5 steps if they choose not to... Because at this point, they are pretty much choosing not to. 

Then you have to do a correction. Now, the steps to a correction are contained in the teaching of self-government parenting course. In fact, a detailed understanding of all of these is contained in the teaching self-parenting course. And you're going to want to go there because I will do personal training with you. I even answer your questions every week to make sure you've really got things working leading the family towards calmness, good communication, and a feeling of being understood in your family. Because all of those should exist if the family is truly self-governing. So that correction is going to describe what happened, what should've happened, what they've earned. 

You're going to do some practice. This is a teaching moment. In fac t, you should be looking at the child, correcting the child with a spirit of love, calmness, and understanding. In fact, even when I'm correcting my child, I look into their eyes and I think, "I love you. I love you. It's okay. Be calm." Even though I'm saying the words to the correction that they know and understand and that we've practiced so many times. That's one of the key things. This rule of 3 only works if it has been pre-taught ahead of time so the children need to know what things they can earn, what negative consequences they can earn. And we have 3 negative consequences that they earn in our family if we go through the rule of 3 with them. 

This process of calming them down is something that they're grateful for. A little while ago, I met with a family who's been implementing teaching-self government principles and skills in their home. And their 15-year-old son in a special one-on-one talk with me said, "You know, Nicholeen, I used to hate the idea of that rule of 3. But then I realized I actually am the one that gets to pick to be happy and to be calm if I want to. And now I'm really glad that it's there. Because at that moment right when I'm going to go out of control because I want to fight and I want a power struggle, I tell myself, "Wait, you don't have to do that. You can choose to be calm and get understood a different way by using some of your other self-government skills which are disagreeing appropriately. She said, "I'm actually grateful for it, Nicholeen because it's my stopping place. 

That rule of 3 gives me the place to stop." That mature 15-year-old boy gave an important lesson that I wish all people could hear. And that is that everyone needs a stopping place and they need to get there by a person who is leading them toward calmness. Not anger and power struggle. That's what the rule of 3 does. The rule of 3 gives you the words and the tools and the structure that you need to lead yourself and the other person to calmness all at the same time. Whether you're governing yourself or whether you're trying to teach your child self-government, you need to know your stopping place. And you need to know how to be calm on your way to that place. 

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