They Call It “Magic”

               

Here’s how my mornings have been going lately:

It’s 8:30 am on a Monday morning, and I’m getting ready to head out the door to take Lyra to school.

Lyra: “Lollipop?”

Me: “No baby.  It’s too early for that. Eat your pancakes and you can have the lollipop when you get home from school later today.”

Lyra: “LOLLIPOP!!! LOLLIPOP!! LOLLIPOP!!!” (As she’s throwing herself down on the kitchen floor screaming as if someone is hurting her.)

I feel like it’s the oldest trick in the book, but I suppose there must be some merit to it if it works so well for so many people! 

If this was the first time a scenario like this happened, I’d probably react coolly and calmly with patience and understanding (or at least more so than I seem to have these days). Rather, all I want to do is scream!! Obviously, that’s not the answer, but what is? 

Lucky for me, my brilliant cousin (who has 3 sweet kids, all of whom actually listen to her) suggested a book. “1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12” is short, straightforward, and easy to sit down and read in a session or two. So that’s exactly what I did!

Before reading this book, I thought that any form of structured discipline would help me and Brett with Lyra. If you saw my first post, you’ll know that she’s a sweet and demure 21 month-old little girl, yet when it’s just her and us at home, she will use her wild temper-tantrums to get what she wants. 

Lately, we’ve found ourselves caving in just to get the wining and crying to stop. 

Yes, I realize that this is not the best way to parent. As it stands, she is running us, rather than us running her!

It has to STOP. 

In the book, the author uses the analogy of training an animal to that of raising kids. This was so hard for me to get past, but in the end, I do feel that he has a point. My natural instincts are to sit down and talk through everything with Lyra. But as the author so nicely points out, children this age just aren’t able to reason the way adults are, so therefore we need to approach it in a different manner. 

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The two main rules in the 1-2-3 Magic discipline strategy are No Talking and No Emotions. 

Ugh…really? 

Those are the two things I can do in abundance! This is going to be a tough transition…probably more for me than for her!

According to “1-2-3 Magic,” you shouldn’t use these strategies until your child has the mental capacity of a 2 year-old. Lyra is not quite 2 yet, but I feel she’s close enough to start using some of these tactics – at least that’s what I’m hoping for! 

Per the book, a child’s behavior is defined as either:

  •  Stop Behavior: a behavior your child is doing that you’d like them to stop
  • Start Behavior: a behavior that you’d like your child to start doing

To STOP a behavior, use Counting.

To START a behavior, use one or more of the tactics talked about in the book.

For now, I’m just focusing on Stop Behaviors, as Start Behavior tactics are a bit advanced for Lyra’s age.

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You probably already have an idea of what Counting entails. “Lyra, that’s one.” Wait 5 seconds. If she continues the bad behavior, “Lyra, that’s two.” Wait 5 seconds. Still, if she continues, “Lyra, that’s 3. You’re going to timeout for 2 minutes.” 

Over the next several days, she finally seemed to get the gist. We even found times where just counting to one would get her to stop the bad behavior immediately and without further counting or timeout needed.

I feel like it’s the oldest trick in the book, but I suppose there must be some merit to it if it works so well for so many people! The key here is the two ground rules I spoke about above: No Talking and No Emotions. Oh, and being able to actually get your kid to stay in timeout! 

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So far we’ve made some great strides with Lyra (it’s only been a couple weeks). I think, with time, patience, and a bit more work, it will definitely help to improve our situation. The first few times we started counting, she went straight over to the area we had designated as timeout and sat there, even though we had only gotten to number one!

Later, when I asked her teacher if they use this system, I realized she must have seen kids at school sent to timeout and knew the drill, as her teacher informed me Lyra had never been sent to timeout herself.  Poor baby! The whole point of counting is to give them the opportunity to change their behavior BEFORE they are sent to timeout. 

Over the next several days, she finally seemed to get the gist. We even found times where just counting to one would get her to stop the bad behavior immediately and without further counting or timeout needed. In fact, Lyra’s only made it to timeout a couple of times. Of course, the majority of her time there was spent with her leaving the area and us putting her back!

Like I said, we’re not quite there yet, but I’m trying to keep faith and stay positive. Do I think this strategy is magic? Not yet. 

In the meantime, are there any discipline techniques that you’ve tried with your toddler and had success with? Is there a parenting book or philosophy that you swear by?  And just how do you get them to stay put in timeout?

What do you think?

They Call It “Magic”

Shiloh Johnson is mom to Lyra (a beautiful, independent, smart, strong-willed 5 year old) and Coda (the most loving, sweet-natured, yet still wild and crazy, little boy), wife to Brett (a man who completes her life in ways she never knew needed completing), and currently the Director of Content here at EverydayFamily (the best job EVER!). Growing up with all brothers and a single mom here in Tampa, FL, she may have an edge to her, but gives love freely and unconditionally to those in her life. ... More

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7 comments

  1. Yes, you’re right. Fruit is a much better treat, and we do a lot of that too! We don’t keep lollipops on hand too often, but they have been known to appear around school parties and holidays, and she immediately became a fan, lol. I know a lot of moms who simply stay away from candy for their kids (which is probably a great move), but I have always had a sweet tooth and think it’s generally okay in moderation. I want to be sure to teach her healthy eating habits, but I do think you can have both, if done smartly 🙂

  2. Yeah, she is border line I feel like with the timeout stuff. The book said a mental capacity of a 2 year old, and I feel she’s just about that, although it’s hard to really tell, right? Even still, she’s done pretty good with them, and after about 2 weeks of this tactic, we really haven’t had to even bring it up anymore. I’m not sure if she was just going through a difficult time then or if she’s learned from our couple time-out sessions. We do try to ignore temper tantrums when it’s at home and just us, but when we’re out in public or she’s doing more than just screaming, we thought the counting worked well.

  3. Yes, I agree that tone almost has more to do with it than what you say. Great point! And it can be hard not to laugh sometimes… 🙂

  4. i was always taught to just ignore temper tantrums and not give in for kids that young when i took classes for childcare. i think she’s kind of young for a time-out but if it’s working she must be very smart/advanced!

  5. JaniceAdler says:

    how about not bringing those crappy lollipops in the house, in the first place….ever? they’ll hype your kid up, rot their teeth, and make them carb addicts. How about keeping some fruit on hand…that’s the snack. JMO

  6. Hope I can refrain from laughing when my own child does something bad but cute.

  7. My baby isn’t here yet but of all the kids I have babysat counting worked half the time. when it came to time-out the kids react to the seriousness of my tone. I have fun playing with the kids but when it’s serious time, my face and voice clues them in.

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