Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review: 1-2-3 Magic

This book works because it is simple, straightforward, and hits at the heart of parents dilemma:

"I love my children, now if I could just like them as well."

I have 4 children under age 8.  I get it.  I love them, I just wish I spent more time playing games and chatting and really teaching and helping my kids rather than lecturing and scolding and correcting and reminding and stopping them all day. 

 - "But it's our duty to teach our kids responsibility, and to get along, and to be nice, and to play fair"  Yeah we all know that, but there has to be a better way.  Kids will grow up, and they'll likely be just fine, but will we miss them?  Will we cherish the memories of daily good times, or just those few fleeting moments or vacations?

1-2-3 Magic teaches the counting system - but only for things you want children to STOP doing.  Stopping something bad takes seconds.  Doing something right takes minutes to hours to days.  So you can't use counting for making their bed, or cleaning their room, or eating their dinner.  You only count for behaviors you want them to STOP.

Next big revelation - you don't lecture.  You don't talk or show any real emotion in moments of discipline.  When they are acting out - you count them.  "That's one."  Then you just wait.  If they honestly don't know what they did wrong, you say one sentence to explain.  Usually they know but they feign ignorance - "WHAT'D I DO?!"

You count, and that's all.  You don't say "That's One!  I told you to stop touching your sister, why do you have to keep buggin her, can't you just sit and eat your dinner like everyone else?  Do you really want to go to your room? (kid continues)  THAT'S TWO.  Don't make me do it.  I will send you to your room.  Do you see your sister bugging anyone?  Why can't you be like her?  Why do you have to make everything so difficult?  Are you trying to drive me Crazy? (kid continues) THAT'S IT.  THREE!  Let's go.  Get upstairs NOW!  I've had it - I've just had it.!"

This book is great because the examples are real.  I could see my kids and hear myself in the different conversations.  It was sad and scary to think of how much time and breath I've wasted lecturing my kids when there was no chance they were going to hear it.

Yes, I started reading this book so I could know whether or not to recommend it to other parents.  Now my wife and I are using it in our own home with our 4 kids.  I don't know what the long term results will be, but I like the change in myself after just 1 week, and just that is worth it.

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