Try This Tuesday #24: 1-2-3 Magic

Try This Tuesday

Over the years, I have become quite disenchanted by typical parenting and child discipline books. A lot of this had to do with the process of learning where my son was developmentally and how to communicate clearly with him so that he would understand what was going on around him and his part in it.

When I first tried things like time-outs and even just saying “No” to him, it seemed to go right over his head. It wasn’t until he was about four years old that he got the concept of being in trouble for something, and by that point I was so overwhelmed learning about autism and how to get him to communicate that I fell behind in the area of discipline.

While I’m sure this could have been implemented earlier (the author, Dr. Thomas W. Phalen, recommends his methods for children with a cognitive age of at least 2), we are definitely at a place now where Michael needs to learn that he is not in charge and that you have to follow the rules. His psychologist recommended 1-2-3 Magic.

I had heard of this method (after all, who hasn’t counted to three with their kids?), but wasn’t really sure of the details, so I picked up the book and read through it. The thing I found most helpful was his discrimination between stop behavior and start behavior. If the behavior is something you want the child to stop doing, it can generally be done very quickly (no whining, turn off the TV, don’t tease your sister) and you use the 1-2-3 counting procedure with a timeout if you get to 3.

If the behavior is something you want the child to start doing, however, such as cleaning their room or sitting at the dinner table with the family, he provides several different motivating techniques to use. I was happy to see that we already do several of these, and some of them are actually in Michael’s IEP at school.

The other thing that has helped me with the method is the idea of minimizing talking and emotion during discipline. Although it can be hard to do, it actually feels really good to at least be in control of myself during this whole process. I have some kinks to work out in my follow-through, but I have seen some good responses, both to the counting and to having to take a timeout. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Please join in and share the creative solutions YOU have found to your own challenges, or feel free to post your own challenge for input from others. For more details on how to participate, click here.

Trish can be found writing here at 5MFSN every Friday in addition to hosting Try This Tuesday. You can also find Trish at her blog, Another Piece of the Puzzle.

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