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Ask Katherine: Are the 3 Rs Inevitable?

By February 24, 2022No Comments

Dear Katherine,

You talk about eliminating the 3 Rs (resistance, rebellion, retaliation) through conscious parenting. But don’t you think the 3 Rs are inevitable? 

Why is overcoming them so crucial, and is it even possible to put an end to them completely? 


It Feels Impossible

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Hey there, It Feels Impossible! I love this question.

I believe that when we deem kids’ behavior inevitable, we’re not giving them enough credit.

The reality is, we’re all in control of—and responsible for—our emotions, reactions, and behaviors. It’s a concept known as the internal locus of control. 

When children exhibit the 3 Rs, they choose those responses. The keyword there is “responses.” 

The 3 Rs are responses to feelings they’re experiencing. Negative feelings and unpleasant emotions are inevitable, even for what some would identify as “well-behaved” children. The variable is how your child chooses to react to those feelings.

A key aspect of the parent-child relationship is helping our kids navigate the way they respond to stimuli, and we can set them up for success by being intentional in our parenting. 

Using controlling forms of discipline, like yelling, spanking, or dominating our children, activates the urge to retaliate, rebel, and resist. The 3 Rs are a way for kids to try and reclaim power, so, naturally, they exhibit those behaviors when you take their power away. 

In my TEDx talk at Case Western Reserve University, I detail the connection I see between school shooters and the 3 Rs. When a young man in Portland, Oregon, came to school armed, a coach who worked at the school was able to disarm him by wrapping him in a hug and repeatedly telling him, “I’m here for you.”

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If that coach had tried to use strict discipline, which focuses on punishments and rewards, the outcome could have been deadly. 

A guidance approach to discipline offers an effective alternative to the authoritarian method that breeds more undesirable behavior

Conscious parenting is about teaching emotional self-regulation, healthy non-violent self-expression, and problem-solving skills so children and adolescents can attain mastery over themselves and their behavior.

In short, it’s possible to avoid the 3 Rs. You and your children can move past them and into a much better, more peaceful life together. I fully believe in you! 

Love and Blessings,