I Do It Backwards

April 26, 2012 by Michelle

I’m the mom who hates to ask my children to do something more than once. Of course, I doubt there are many parents who actually enjoy repeatedly asking their children to do something. I just refuse to do it. And the wee ones know.

It makes me cringe inside when I see parents telling their children to do something then counting. One. Twoooooooooo. Two and a half. Two and three quarters. Don’t make me say thrrrreeeeeee-eeeeeee.

Either count to three or don’t.

But that’s beside the point. I actually don’t count to three. Just like I was driven to sing the alphabet backwards to Mister Man when he was an infant to keep him content in the car (why yes, yes I can say the alphabet backwards now – I had to do something different to keep my sanity), I somehow started counting backwards for the wee ones.



And by then they’re moving 95% of the time. Three.

Two. At which point my tone has gotten far deeper, if I’ve actually made it that far. I haven’t slowed down my cadence counting. And I’ve only gotten to one twice. Ever. Both times, they saw me march over and compel them to do what I was asking. But even before that, they seemed to respect the counting backwards far more than they ever did when I counted forward. Whatever it is, I’m sticking with it.

And it’s possible – just possible, mind you – that I accidentally counted backwards to my husband once or twice. Interestingly, it works pretty well with him, too!

What do you do to get your kids – or spouse – to listen to you?


  • Patty @ A Day in My NYC

    Will try this on my boyfriend…stat! LMAO! 🙂

  • Sandra

    I use a lot of drama and a lot of flair. Gets their attention, and works on DH, too! =)

  • Not a Perfect Mom

    all I have to do now is get a garbage bag and threaten to toss their prized possessions….works like a charm

  • Mary~Momathon

    I usually say it once, and then in an exasperated way, say something along the lines of, “ok, I know you love it when I yell or count to three or say it 16 times but I don't like to. How about if you just do it and I'll yell at you later if you want me to. I know you love it.” Then, to prove me wrong, they'll do whatever it was I just told them to do.

  • Michelle

    Patty – Try it on someone…. let me know how it works 😉

    Sandra – Ooooo, I like the drama. That I want to see in action actually.

    Holly – Well yeah, there is that. I have that trick up my sleeve, too, which is a good part of the stick behind the carrot of do what I say the first time.

    Mary – Yeah, my kids are perverse enough to not do that unfortunately. You're doing something right with your parenting that it works for you!

  • Rebecca

    hi, i just stumbled across your blog, and this post made me laugh! i'm a teacher (middle school) and backwards counting from 5 is the most effective discipline technique ever! they know i'm really pissed when i just silently hold up my hand and start folding down fingers :o) so now you have proof it will work well into early teenager-hood :o)

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