Using the Rule of Three2 min read

“Another question I had was, does the rule of 3 start over for each incident? Are the 3 consequences for staying out of instructional control as relating to the first incident? I just want to make sure I understand correctly. So if a child hits his brother, and gets out of instructional control and has the consequences for that earlier in the day, and then later disobeys about something different, the rule of 3 would start over for the later incident, correct? Consequences aren’t cumulative for different offenses, so that because the child got to SODAS with hitting his brother and getting out of control, the next thing he did that was naughty wouldn’t earn him 24 hr loss of privileges, but starting over with an extra chore, correct? Or am I getting this wrong?”

If your child is unable to follow instructions, then you use the rule of three.

If later in the day your child goes “out of instructional control” again, then you begin the rule of three again; starting with the first instruction and the first consequence.

If the youth was “out of instructional control” and you began the rule of three, and they calmed down, but then five minutes later picked up the same behavior again, related to the same thing, then you resume the rule of three in the same place you left off before. The youth is obviously not calm, and not dropping subjects in a case like this.

If your youth chooses the highest consequence possible and then acts up again, related to the same thing. You don’t need to do the rule of three again, because they are obviously still out of control. You simply need to inform them that they are still out of control and so their 24 hours of no privileges will not begin until they are able to follow instructions and remain in control of themselves.

If your youth chooses to loose all of her privileges and then accepts the consequence, but later goes “out of control” over a new issue, then you will need to decide how to modify the rule of three for use when all privileges are already lost. I typically stick to my same three consequences, and just inform the youth that the 24 hours will have to start over, so all the time they have already worked etc. will be lost.

Just a quick reminder. Most children only need to choose to go out of instructional control 1-3 times, and have to follow through with the rule of three before they will not ever choose to earn any of the rule of three consequences again. Being consistent will actually make everyone happier, life easier, and self mastery will happen faster. Oh, they will occasionally test you to see if you will still use the rule of three, but usually just seeing your consistency is all they will need to choose to stop the negative behavior that they chose.