after finding an article my friend had written over a year ago for my blog about 1-2-3 magic, i was contacted by the 1-2-3 magic group and asked if i'd like to review some of their materials. i agreed and said, "why don't we start with the original book?!"
even though my friend had told me about it, and I had frequently watched her put the method into action in her own home and tried to follow suit, i'd actually never read the book myself! but now i have, and it's great!
what i love most about the concept of 1-2-3 magic is the simplicity yet effectiveness of it. i love that there is no arguing, no "reasoning", no yelling, no raised tempers involved.
the book breaks behavior into two areas: start behaviors and stop behaviors. start behaviors are a little more difficult to control and deal with and require a bit more creativity. there are many ways to address "start" behaviors such as getting your kids to get dressed in the morning, getting them to do chores or eat quietly at dinner for example. those are all start behaviors. you wouldn't use 1-2-3 magic for these types of behaviors, and that's a very important distinction. because those behaviors require more flexibility and creativity, i want to address the stop behaviors here.
stop behaviors are any kind of behavior you want to stop immediately such as fighting, arguing, whining, hitting, etc. for these things, you simply count. a child asks for something and you say no. they start whining, trying to reason, arguing...and you say "that's 1." they continue..."that's 2." if they still continue, "that's 3. take a 5." they go to time out, you set the timer for five minutes, the timer goes off, and everyone goes on about their day!
i've used this method with lula and works brilliantly. she rarely gets to 3. there are plenty of times when i forget to count for whatever reason and we end up going round and round instead with me using yelling or losing my temper in the end. that way is so ineffective! there's no reason to ever lose your temper, especially if you just remember to count.
a lot of people argue that a child needs to respond to your "first voice" and shouldn't be given the opportunity to continue the negative behavior. but i've never seen a parent actually follow through with that concept. there's always a warning. always.
i also think it's useless to try to reason with a young child and probably older children too. they don't always need a reason and they rarely actually listen and say, "oh yeah, that makes sense!" so why waste your breath. in my opinion, counting like this is a way of training your child to listen to your first voice. what you said the first time is the final answer, but if they continue to push, they get counted and end up in time out if they don't stop.
i really appreciated how the book explained very specific examples in very simple terms including when to just skip right to 3...such as if a child hits or spits or bites or calls you a nasty name. they don't get extra counts for behaviors like that! that's automatic time out. they also gave examples of how if a child acts unreasonably during time out or does something negative on the way to time out, they get extra minutes. i appreciated that advice when lula started kicking her door violently while in time out. so i'd calmly go in and say, "that's an extra 3 minutes for kicking your door."
there seemed to be examples for every situation: what to do when you're in public, on a trip, in the car, with siblings, with your kids' friends, etc. 1-2-3 magic is really a great resource that has covered all the typical questions of what to do when!
again, the whole point of all of this is to train your child to display the behaviors you want. all of this is a way of helping them understand what's acceptable and what's not. you don't need a course in philosophy or psychology to try to teach your child that arguing is not ok. when you count and send them to time out, the message is perfectly clear and you aren't red in the face after the incident!
1-2-3 magic is a really simple and easy book to read and implement. any parent in any situation can manage the concepts, and will see a huge change in their children if they will consistently use it. so go check it out!