The 3 Day/2 Week Rule
For New Behaviors
By Christina Ivazes
Aka Granny Pants
When we are working on teaching new expectations or behaviors to infants, babies, children, teenagers, etc. if you remember this rule, it will help you get through these positive changes with the happy rewards of success at the other end!
#1- For 3 days (or 3 major occurrences)- play out the new plan exactly the same without wavering! No wavering or changing strategies in the first 3 days is the real key! If a child senses inconsistency, they don’t understand what the expectations are and will not go along with anything so flip-floppy.
Even if you do not see an immediate change or cooperative behavior the 1st. time that is okay! Keep everything the same. If after the 3rd day (or consistent attempt), there are absolutely no observable changes in behavior, you may want to go to plan B because it may not be a realistic expectation. If however, you are seeing some progress, keep things rolling exactly the same, while affirming to your child that they are moving in the right direction.
#2-Then, keep the support system in place for 2 weeks after the new behavior expectation has begun (from pacifiers to toilet training, household chores, etc.). Keep the original expectations in place and re-affirm what they are without flailing or reducing your standards. You will be surprised how babies, children and teenagers will rise to the expectations we set for them; especially if they know we are not going to cave-in.
P.S. Encourage your child to be intrinsically motivated when they are learning and achieving new behaviors by rewarding them with perspective, not with stuff! Example: “Don’t you feel better when your floor is clean.” This type of motivation will become internal motivation in the future, which is much healthier than external motivators that never seem to satisfy as deeply and do not foster emotional maturity.
In a nutshell, it usually takes 3 times for a behavior to become possible and 2 weeks for it to become anchored (or a habit).
Hope this is helpful! I love feedback, good and constructive!