The Five-Second Rule

five to ten seconds: the eternal perspective you need in a moment

I texted this to a group of fellow mom friends a few weeks back (we were sharing our struggles in parenting young, volatile, impressionable children):

“My number-1 targeted habit-to-improve these days is stopping and taking 3 seconds before reacting. If I do that, I give myself a chance to be intentional. Sometimes I’m not anyway… but if I don’t pause at all, I default to whatever knee-jerk reaction is in the queue without thinking.”

If I’m honest, I really need more like 5-10 seconds to take a deep breath, release my priorities, remind myself that my childrens’ emotions won’t kill me, and reset. When I take those five seconds, I give myself a chance to make better choices than my history-crippled subconscious would default to.

Five seconds = power to do good.

I went on for my friends:

“In those 3-5 seconds, I try to employ mostly-non-verbal self-talk like, ‘yes, I am angry. Yes, it’s understandable. Yes, it’s hard to be kind when I feel hurt and attacked. Yes, I can react to these feelings with frustration.

“Now, let me react to my kids differently, because they /= my negative feelings and experiences.

“They deserve a different response. It might entail consequences, it might not. But one reaction is for how I feel, and one reaction is for who they are.

“These are not interchangeable.”


One of my friends said she wanted to copy these thoughts into a text file to read later, so I figured I’d put them up on the blog for her convenience, and in case they help anybody else.

The amazing thing is, this concept that God was stirring up in my subconscious until it worked its way into more conscious, verbal thought is very similar to the techniques and teachings of at least one parenting and child development expert with way more credibility than I have: Dr. Laura Markham, founder of My husband and I attended a seminar by her this past week, and we were both blown away–which is rather amazing in and of itself.

I’ll save that story and more on what we learned from Dr. Laura another time, but suffice it to say: Jesus, much like Aslan, is on the move in our little family. He’s preparing our hearts and pulling things together in ways we did not see or comprehend months, weeks, or even days ago.

It’s incredible to watch!

6 thoughts on “The Five-Second Rule

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