Wednesday, May 6, 2009

1-2-3- Magic by Thomas W. Phelan

So I started reading 1-2-3 Magic Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan. early this year.  I am not a fast reader but this book intrigued me so much I took it everywhere with me.  I really enjoyed reading it and could make sense of it.  I even took this to the gym and read while I exercised so I could get started using it in my home.  (I really believe if you want to try a new method of discipline you have to know it well and have read the whole book not just bits and pieces).  Just for your reference, they have a great audio of the book that I really liked.  I even got my husband to listen to it in the car on the way to work and he loved it as well.  He told me that of all the disciplines that I have introduced to him he thought this was the one that made the most sense to him.  
Because it's my new thing I'm going to take some points I like and talk about it for the next few weeks.  You may want to just see if they have it at your local library.  We have a Parent Resource Center that has several books and CD's that I got mine from.
The first point I'm going to hit is "The Little Adult Assumption."  This is in Chapter 3 of the 3rd Edition.  After I read Babywise and my oldest got older and started actually misbehaving I started looking into books about discipline.  I read lots of Love and Logic books.  I even went to a full day seminar with Dr. Faye.  I use many of the techniques I have learned from these books all the time at home.  One of the things I really struggled with my kids is the time after time outs.  This always ended up to be a bad experience for child and mother.  After time outs there was talking about such, "Are you sorry for what you did?, what should you have done, What did you do?,"  Most of the time my kids can't remember what they were in time out for and I got so frustrated with them.  Then, like the books say, I would put them back in time-out to think about what they did again.  Well after numerous trials of failures I just thought I might be doing this all wrong.  Well in 1-2-3 Magic it explains why this doesn't work, "The Little Adult Assumption is the belief that kids have hearts of gold and that they are basically reasonable and unselfish.  They're just smaller versions of grownups and when they are misbehaving or not cooperating, the problem must be that they don't have enough information at their disposal to be able to do the right thing."  pg 15  It gives a great example of this, Your 8 year old is torturing his little sister for fifteenth time since they got home from school.  What should you do?  Well, if he is a little adult you simply sit him down and explain the three golden reasons why he shouldn't tease his sister.  After you explain this to him, he will turn to you and say, "Gee, Mom, I never thought of it that way before!" Then he will never tease her again.   Ya Right!
The point of this is that those who believe in this assumption are going to rely heavily on words and reasons rather then actions.  1-2-3 Magic says this Little adult assumption is not right.  Kids are just kids, not little adults.  I believe children come innocent and pure, but they don't come reasonable and unselfish.  That's are job as parents is to help them become, reasonable, responsible and caring individuals.
I don't know about you but this really struck a chord with me because the times when I am trying to correct behavior and I'm talking and talking to my kids, it's like talking to a brick wall. Then it makes me really mad and I want to start yelling, and then if I'm really upset I want to spank them and then I feel really terrible.  
The time to talk about good behavior and what is right and wrong is not when the child is misbehaving.  That just makes you both upset.  I find the best time to talk about the way we should treat others  and such is at the dinner table, family meetings (Family Home Evening), scripture study, story time, in the car (if the kids are not fighting, of course) while your working together, and so on.  
My brother-in-law said he has learned the most about parenting from reading about and training his horses.  I have thought about this and I think it makes a lot of sense.  Horses have this great amount of strength, will, and smarts.  But if it is not reined in,the horse is wild.  A horse trainer uses a lot of patience and most of it is non-verbal skills.  He doesn't tell the horse what to do he shows a horse what to do by guiding him.  My brother-in-law also said that you have to know when to call it a day. (A horse can only take so much training at one time.) If the horse is over trained at one time he starts to resent the training and the trainer and will regress.  I think this is true with our children.  When I am practicing violin with one of my sons and he is working on perfecting something, I have to be so careful not to overwork and extend his concentration or he will get frustrated and it's harder for him to pick the violin up the next day.  
So the goal here for me is to be gentle, consistent, decisive, calm, and not over explain and over train.   Sound hard, well with 1-2-3 Magic it is actually easier.  Stay tuned for more next time.


  1. I have the same feelings about time out. I do use them...more for MY benefit than the children's. I come from a "yelling" family... and my tendency is to yell/or use emotion. Time out does help me remove the child from the situation and from me...allowing my blood to cool...but in my opinion, it is not corrective for the child. NO KID sits in time reflecting about what he did wrong. And the post time out chat of "what did you do wrong? say your sorry and give me a hug." doesn't really correct the behavior, either. That is generally not when they are in a learning frame of mind... nor am I in a teaching frame of mind (for correct teaching, anyways...anything done at that point is beating a dead horse...a mommy tantrum.\"/). I can't wait til the next post to hear more about the book...HURRY.\"/

  2. Ahh... I needed this. It seems like just the last few days I have been struggling with holding my patience. It is one kids picking on another, the other screams and so on (you know how that goes) This Monday for FHE I talked to the kids about obedience because in Sacrament it's just me and they don't seem to be listening. I got a bowl out and discussed rules are like the sides of the bowl and then a plate which doesn't have sides is like having no rules. We have rules so things are in order. I got a marble and showed them that without the rules (the plate) a marble if rolled on will just fall off. Where with the bowl it can constantly be spinning. I hope that makes sense. I feel like I do talk to them like little adults sometimes. It really makes me realize how much they are children and still have so much to learn when I hear one of them ask "what does nerve mean" When I said "My nerves can't handle this" ha ha. I have to share this with you because I think it's funny... but SHHH... don't tell Kevin. He felt really bad about it. Danika came home with a note for Mothers day that said. I love you mom because you are nice and you don't spank us like Daddy. He felt really bad and has said he is done and won't spank anymore. (not that he did a lot before) Just like you said when you hit your breaking point.

  3. I have read that boook too. I liked some of the messages it shared, and the reminder to not become a toddler or throw an adult-temper-tantrum or over-lecture. BUT - it seems that calling time-out 'taking a rest' is still just a time out. I think it is a more effective way of using the time-out tool, but I'm learning that PREVENTION and relaxing are more effective for our household. Time out/1-2-3 take a rest hasn't really TAUGHT my kids anything, but it allows us to relax and recuperate if we've gotten worked up. My kids are still very young and I'm learning I need to relax my expectations and focus more on helping them be peaceful and happy than 'making them do what I say'. I'm looking forward to more of your insights!

  4. Kim says: Heather, I got on your blog last night. You've done a really good job! I read that book a few months ago (well, most of it) and I find myself saying, "That's One..." alot. Now the kids know what to expect from me, and I don't feel like I need to yell at them. I got the book from the doctors office when I was pregnant with one of the kids and it sat on my shelf for a couple of years before I ever read it. My neighbor's doctor reccommended it to her also and she has my copy. I tried to say this on your blog but I am not very computer savy and couldn't figure out how.


I appreciate your comments!