Belle (2.5 years old): I want to watch DVD.
Mum: Honey, it is way past your bed time. Tomorrow.
Belle: I want to.
Mum: Belle, we go now have a shower, it is late.
Belle (Frowning dangerously): I want to!
Mum: Belle, sweetie, we will watch DVD another day, now it is late as I have already said and we go to bed.
Belle: I don’t want to go to bed! I want to watch DVD, Barney! Barney!
Mum (quite irritated and getting impatient): Belle, I already explained, enough! Come on, we are going to the bathroom.
….and the conversation goes on and on and on…..leading to no satisfaction for either Mum or Belle.
And then Mum (after a series of such conversations) runs into 1-2-3 Magic! A book with a key method of discipline for children between 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan.
The key ingredients: No emotion, No talking!
Put it into practice and it works like magic as the title promises.
A child needs discipline, it is fact. Love alone does not create individuals with good strategies from an early age on. Discipline ensures children learn about limits and boundaries. Discipline ensures children eat when they need to, eat what they need to, sleep the hours they need to so they grow physically and mentally strong. Discipline will win them a lot of friends as they learn how to share, negotiate, refrain from hitting or arguing and accept the losses as well as the wins. It is a big asset to have good discipline from early on, it keeps a good routine and a stress-free environment.
Only problem is that since the little ones will go far with their demands and need for attention-positive or negative does not matter to them, as long as it is attention-unless you have a good method of discipline, chances are both you and them will be screaming and totally stressed at the end of the day. No matter how patient you are, your patience will be tested and exhausted.
If you choose to give in to every demand of a toddler, you will be creating a pretty much spoiled, out of control little individual, throwing one tantrum after the other, who will also suffer as a grown up when not getting what he/she wants. If you choose to introduce discipline but start explaining the whys and the hows, you will end up with a confused toddler asking even more hows and whys and still throwing tantrums as he/she cannot understand or cares at all about your arguments.
You give warnings with counting up to three—even better by just raising 1 finger, 2 fingers, and 3 fingers for every single time the child repeats the behavior you are not willing to accept. After three times, if they still continue the behavior, you send them for a time out to a specific spot (preferably a storage room but never their own bedroom) where they cannot be seen. The duration of the time out depends on the age. After a while of practicing 1-2-3, the toddler understands that the only one loosing in this process is him/her.
Much quicker than you can even imagine, you hardly reach 3. They already stop the behavior at 2 or even 1. It is a simple technique to get children to stop whining, arguing, hitting, screaming, anything.
You get them out of the scene and if they start all over again, you just stick to the 1-2-3.
Now, the important point is: No emotion, no talking!
If you start counting while shaking from stress or nerves or if you count 1 and look at them with a dark look or contempt, it will not work because you do express emotion and this way give them attention. So, the counting needs to happen a neutral way.
If you count and at the same time explain the reasons why you are counting, you again do not achieve much, the dear toddler has achieved his/her goal: Mummy is telling me a story which I have no clue what it means but I can challenge and answer back. Back to square one for the parent.
When they come back from their time-out, you act as nothing happened (No emotion, NO talking, NO explaining, NO frowning, and NO extra attention).
Before you know it, you can really enjoy a stress-free environment with very confident children who know what they can and cannot do.
I very often come across parents who still do not know this method and I find it a shame as it is easy, life-changing and keeps everyone happy at home!
I hope Mr. Phelan approves of me suggesting his books and DVDs of 1-2-3 and that you also welcome a nice recommendation for a read you can even apply to your spouse or in laws when they do not behave! Chances are everyone with a bit of humor will have a major laugh!
Life Coach, NLP Trainer