The Three Minute Rule – Teaches Your Kids How Not to Fight Over “Things”

20 Oct
Pocket watch, savonette-type.

Image via Wikipedia

The three-minute rule, you ask, if that like the looong version of the 10 second rule?  No it’s not and we think that you are going to love this parenting tool  even more than giving yourself a do over on things that touch the floor.

The three-minute rule is something that can be pulled out when you have two children fighting over a single item.  I’m sure you can think of a time that you would have loved a magic wand to calm the waters the second this started… “that’s mine, but you weren’t playing with it, well I want it back, but I am in the middle of level 2… Mom…s/he will not give me my”…  You can fill in the details, you have probably heard a variation of this theme at least a hundred times.

Since we have invoked the three-minute rule, a few times, I never hear this anymore.  All I have to say is “Do you know that the  ________(insert object of contention here)   is going to belong to me in one minute if you can’t figure out how to share it nicely? , and the next thing I hear is “I know, we will use the three-minute rule!”

How does this work?  The first item that has to be established, calmly, is that if they cannot find a way to play together with the object peacefully it becomes your property.  The next step is to suggest that each child can have a three-minute turn playing with ______________ and then the other child will have a three-minute turn.  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.  One child many eventually lose interest (without feeling angry) and then the process is over.

I use the three-minute time frame with 5 year olds as it allows the child with possession of the object enough time to feel that they accomplished something  while the waiting child does not lose interest.  You can adjust this time frame to fit the attention span of the age of your children, however, it should always remain the same time frame.  You may find that older children can go five minutes, and if that is the case, it would become the five-minute rule.

Additionally, the children can learn a little about telling time by helping you monitor when 3 minutes have passed on the clock.  This is easiest with a digital clock.

This simple tool has been a life-saver for my sanity and it also is now a tool that the kids have in their virtual “tool belt” to help them resolve issues on their own.

Do you have a magic parenting tool?  We would love to hear it.  Please share with us in the comments section below.


Photo by   Isabelle Grosjean


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