We’ve all been there: your child is still arguing about something you said 20 minutes ago, and you just snap and yell. Or maybe you spend those 20 minutes trying to explain to your child why he/she should have done _____ or shouldn’t have done _____.
If you have ever felt totally and completely exasperated as a parent, I’m pretty sure that 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.) can help.
I’ll admit that I was very skeptical when I read the title of this book. “1-2-3- Magic?” I didn’t need magic, I needed some serious help with the frustration I was feeling as the mother to three super active boys, ages almost 2, almost 6, and almost 8. I’ll go ahead and admit it now: it does work and it has helped me. A LOT.
1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12
One of the things I like most about this book is that it’s very simple. There’s no activity sheets or pre-work you have to do to dive right in and get started. The 1-2-3- Magic method is so simple that any parent can do it. The book is broken down into six different parts that cover all aspects of the program from how to use it in the home to what to do when your child misbehaves in public.
What You May Be Doing Wrong
The first part of the book addresses why parenting can be so difficult (something we are all aware of!) and what your role is as a parent. One thing that resonated with me a lot in this first part of the book was challenging the assumption that children are “little adults.”
My eight-year old has always been very verbal and talks above his age. As a result, we tend to treat him like an adult sometimes. I have naively assumed that if I sit and explain everything out to him, he’s going to look at me and say “Now, I get it!” and never do it again. Side note– it never works. Make sure you read this part of the book!
The two most common discipline mistakes were definitely ones we were making in our house. I tend to get pushed to the point of frustration and yell, and my husband is the one who tends to talk too much, i.e. explaining why one of our boys is getting a time out, what he could have done, etc. I’m sure everyone can relate to those two!
The 1-2-3 Magic method eliminates the escalation to yelling and other angry outbursts, in addition to the time spent explaining what the child did wrong, why he/she should listen, etc. Kids are little negotiators; and if you open the door, you might be stuck in an argument that lasts a half hour (can I get an Amen?!)!
Dealing with bad behavior in public
The book also delves into how to use the 1-2-3 Magic method when you are out in public and the need arises. “I can’t think of any time my child has ever had a complete meltdown in public” said no parent ever! Dealing with bad behavior in the grocery store or anywhere else can be anxiety-producing in parents.
Dr. Phelan walks you through how to use the counting method in these situations and other places where you don’t have a “time out” place to which you can send your child. It really covers all the bases, with helpful insights from other parents. I enjoyed the stories of “real-life” parents who have had success using the 1-2-3 Magic method of discipline.
How It’s Working in Our Family
One of the things I like best about Dr. Phelan’s 1-2-3 Magic method is that it really couldn’t be any easier. As I admitted, I was quite skeptical when we started off on this journey. I wasn’t hopeful it would work with my stubborn, headstrong almost eight-year old! 🙂
I’m happy to report that I was dead wrong– it was much easier to implement than I thought, and I used to yell quite a bit! It’s definitely not something I’m proud of, but I am happy to have found something that seems to work with the boys. It’s been so pleasant with no yelling.
Most times I only have to hold up one finger and say “One,” and the boys change their tune immediately. There’s less stress, especially during harried times like before school drop off or right before dinner. My kids and I have risen to the challenge, and I couldn’t be more happy with how it’s turned out. I would definitely recommend checking out this book and giving it a go. What do you have to lose except yelling and frustration? 🙂
30 Something Mother Runner received an advance review copy of 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.). All enthusiastic opinions and writing are 100% my own– it worked for our family so we are super psyched about it! 🙂