Why we need to stop counting to three

Ephesians 6:1-3 says Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” which is the first commandment with a promise.  “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.””

What does it look like for children to obey? For instance, suppose I ask my daughter to stop coloring and come to the table for dinner. If she came after the third time I asked her, or if she came after I counted to three etc. Would that be obeying? The answer is no, anything outside of obeying right away, after being asked one time, is simply not obeying. If we wait to require obedience until the third time we ask them, what they are hearing and learning is “I can disobey two times, sometimes even three before I receive a consequence”.


⇐How will this affect both parent and child in the long run?⇒

Will a teacher ask mulitple times before she expects her student to do what is asked of her? How about a supervisor at their job? How about as you are asking your child a second and third time, how are you feeling? You’re getting more frustrated by the minute. And maybe because your child knows she doesn’t have to obey right away, this time she waits until the third time you ask her. By that time you are irritated and lose your temper. Your child is left feeling hurt and confused, you are left feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and guilty for losing your temper.

Today I was at the gym listening to two moms chatting about their elementary aged kids, the conversation went something like this…

⇒Mom 1: “”Sally” had a melt down the other day because I had to go through all five stages of yelling until she finally put her shoes on like I asked”

⇒Mom 2: “Oh with “Johnny” I only have two stages I go from okay to explosive right away”

⇒Mom 1: “Ya “Sally” knows all my different stages of yelling and around the third stage she usually says “fine, fine” but still doesn’t do it and then I explode. Maybe I need to scale back my levels of yelling”

I felt sad for both “Sally” and her mom. Both parties in this situation must have been left feeling hurt, frustrated and agitated. How confusing for Sally! She isn’t ever sure if her mom means business or if she can get away with a couple extra minutes of play before she listens. Her mom often loses her temper due to Sally’s frequent disobedience, and often goes to bed feeling guilty at night.

⇐So what do we do instead?⇒

We are much more likely to respond with kindness and gentleness when our child receives a consequence after choosing not to obey the first time. We will not be annoyed and frustrated after asking one time, and we can discipline them and give them the consequence with love and gentleness.

All of you must obey those who rule over you. There are no authorities except the ones God has chosen. Those who now rule have been chosen by God. So whoever opposes the authorities opposes leaders whom God has appointed. Romans 13:1

We are the first, and most influential authority that will be placed in our children’s lives. God chose YOU to be your child’s parent, you are the authority! If we are teaching them from a young age that obedience really isn’t required, at what age are we hoping that it will magically click for them? Children need and desire a sense of authority, this gives them security. To know who is in charge. (No matter how often their behavior screams the complete opposite). We must choose to obey the scriptures and require that our children do the same “so that it may go well with them and that they may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:3)


When we ask something of our child such as to pick up her toys, we should get down on her level, make eye contact and tell her gently that it is time for him to pick up the toys, including the consequence if she ignores our request. That gives our child the expectation of obedience. If she chooses to comply, then everyone’s happy! If not, then we can explain to her that because she chose not to do what we asked, she will receive the consequence we spoke about just a moment ago.

As we follow through with the consequence, our child is likely have some sort a meltdown. This meltdown will pass but we must not give in, she will learn a valuable lesson that when you say something, you mean it. Consistency is key! Every time we reverse our decision because of a fit or tantrum we are teaching our kids to repeat this kind of behavior, because it worked this time!

2 thoughts on “Why we need to stop counting to three

  1. Love it. So timely for me. I have had to repent of my sin of being frustrated, irritated and angry the last few weeks and drifting away from disciplining Rona the right way. I loved how you described that we both are hurt and confused.
    Depending on their age when spanking is the consequence do you tell them that when you ask them to do something to obey?…


    1. I have to continually hit the reset button in my consistency as well! At Rona’s age it’s good to give frequent reminders of your expectations of her. That if she does not obey right away then there will be a consequence.


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