Obedience Percentages

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In On Becoming Toddlerwise, the authors give a list of compliance percentages to expect from different age groups. These percentages are well worth taking note of and ingraining in your memory. I think most Babywise moms are the type to strive for 100%. When we don’t get 100% from our children, we start to worry why they are being so disobedient.

Notice that I said “when” and not “if.” If you look at life realistically, you can’t expect 100% from your child. Just as you aren’t perfect, your child isn’t perfect. Your child can’t perform perfectly. Everyone makes mistakes.

So what can you expect? I believe the percentages given in Toddlerwise will leave you feeling happy. They are quite attainable:

  • 2 Year Old: For a two year old, obedience means that he “complies with your instructions at least sixty percent of the time” (page 94) 60%
  • 3 Yearh Old: 70%
  • 5 Year Old: 85%-90%

Does this mean you expect 60% and then allow things to slide 40% of the time? No. You still work on obedience 100% of the time. You still correct your child during that 40% of the time. You just don’t freak out and wonder why your child is so difficult and start to question what is going to happen during the teenage years because your child is clearly unable to control himself. Take a deep breath and work toward getting a higher percentage in the future.

Are you worried this is going to give your child low expectations? Toddlerwise warns against having too high of expectations. If you set the bar too high too early “it will only lead to frustration for you and the child” (page 95). Conversely, if you set the bar too low, your child will be out of control.

Remember your child is learning as he grows. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so the saying goes. Your child’s self-control won’t be mastered in a day. Is your self-control mastered? Probably not. There are probably areas you are weak in. Your child will work on this throughout his lifetime. It is a process for everyone. Have some patience and help your child be the best he can for his age. He will get there.

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at Babywise.life, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Tanya Hebert
    May 25, 2009 / 9:17 PM

    Thanks for this reminder. My husband and I try to remember this as often as we can — it really does help us realize that Abby (our almost 3 yr old) is doing well. I still read your blog everyday – and I tell others about it. You are a blessing!

  2. Plowmanators
    June 25, 2009 / 9:41 PM

    Thanks Tanya!

  3. Jackie
    March 30, 2010 / 1:22 PM

    Just curious – what about the almost 2 year old? It seems he understands exactly what he's doing wrong when he spits or hits because he smiles as if he got away with something and when we say no no he does it again! We've started the naughty step which is affective for 30 sec – no longer – but he sometimes goes back to hitting as soon as we pick him up off the step.

  4. Plowmanators
    April 13, 2010 / 10:48 PM

    The almost two year old would be under 60%–but close to it.See the discipline blog label or the blog index under discipline for lots of different ideas on discipline.

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