1-2-3 Magic

I was recently involved in a conversation with a few other moms, about discipline and how to get you child to listen to you. One of the friends was discussing how she genuinely struggles with her strong-willed child; the little guy is as sweet as can be, but she struggles with getting him to follow directions, and when he doesn’t get his way, this little three year old can have a meltdown like you’ve never seen. One of the other moms, who has four children (I get overwhelmed just thinking about that many kiddos), shared that she once struggled with the same problems with her oldest child, until she read a book. Our friend said this book changed the communication in their family, and they no longer have the great child-parent power struggles in their family. Obviously this piqued my interest, as I think this struggle, whether minor or severe takes place in every family. I instantly logged into my Amazon account, and purchased the book 1-2-3 Magic┬áto my Kindle.

One of the first aspects of this book that I loved, is that it is about removing arguing and outbursts of emotion from parenting. This book isn’t about changing our children, it’s about changing the way we parent; its about controlling our emotions, not those of our children. I am not a “yeller;” the number of times I have truly yelled at someone could be counted on one hand. However, there is nothing like a four-year-old who really knows how to push your buttons, that can make you want to scream at the top of your lungs. Through its processes, this book simply removes the opportunity for negative emotions from parents to influence the parenting and discipline process. So what is this “Magic” process that helps prevent adult-size tantrums? Counting.

We’ve all done it, counting like it’s our job. We saw our parents do it, and you had better hope they didn’t get to three, because Lord knows what would happen if Mom or Dad got to three. I think in many ways we have gotten away from this origins of this process. How many times have you heard counting as “1, 2, 2 and a quarter, 2 and a half….. Please don’t make me get to 3!” We use this method; but it isn’t as effective as perhaps when our parents did, because we are using it in a way where its a negotiation technique and not as a matter of fact. This book removes the negotiations in counting, and lays out a straightforward process of exactly how the process of counting needs to go, in order to be effective.

How you may be thinking, do I really need to read a book on how to count? I am not a child, I am plenty capable of counting to three. Depending on the time of day you’re reading this, and if you have children, then you’ve probably done it countless times today already. The answer though, is yes! You do need to read this book, as it lays out instructions on how to be more effective and less emotional through the process. Kids get three chances, with no negotiations, and after the third strike, they’re out; Literally, in time-out, equivalent to one minute for however old they are. Now, we’ve all heard this before; however, this isn’t about them, its about the parent. When you send your child to time-out, there is no lengthy discussion, there is no yelling about what the child did wrong. Chances are, your child knew exactly what they did wrong, and as a parent having this discussion only increases your anger and increases the chances of you losing your temper.

I had someone once tell me “I never knew I had a temper until I had children,” and those words really struck me, as I think this is something all parents can relate to. Our children, as reflections of us, mirror back to us exactly what is our trigger. In many ways, I believe this is why discipline is such a difficult and frustrating area when raising children. In times where we are most frustrated, angry, and upset with our children’s behavior, instead of modeling better behavior and emotional control, we exhibit characteristics which we are trying to manage in our children. I think in many ways this is why I am not a fan of spanking. For me, it doesn’t make much sense for me to discipline my kid for doing something wrong, with something I teach them not to do. This book removes spanking out of the equation, just as it removes the negative parental emotions and tantrums. In doing this, it not only removes the anger from pre-disciplinary action, but the guilt of post-disciplinary action. When it comes to spanking, there’s that old saying of “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” This could be argued either way; There is often guilt and frustration associated with spanking for parents, and yet there is also physical and emotional affects of spanking for a child. 1-2-3 Magic removes this, and for me, I like it. Overall, the simplicity of this book makes it an easy read, if not cheesy at times; and yet it also offers a way to dissipate negative emotions in parenting and discipline, so we can move past moments of not-so-desirable behaviors in our children and ourselves, and enjoy parenting.

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  1. The techniques that have helped me most are from the book Parenting with Love and Logic. He talks about giving your children two choices. Based on your parameters and that regardless of what choice they make, you have to stick to it. For example, “L, do you want to go to bed now or do you want to go to bed in 10 mins?” Two choices keeps it simple for him and allowing to make the choice for himself. They have a plethora of great techniques in that book that I’ve never considered before.

    Unlike you, I tend to be an over-reactor. And my children are often at the brunt of my stress and anxiety. I’ve read a million times how it negatively impacts the child but I remembered something this weekend I had read awhile ago and it resonated so deeply again that I have been on a complete shift in mindset.

    Essentially it said, “do not join your child’s chaos, be the calm in their chaos.” It really struck a chord with me and I am trying so much harder to be patient and empathetic toward their needs.

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