How '1-2-3 Magic' Worked For Us...

 
I got my eyebrows microbladed literally YESTERDAY sooo… don’t mind those ;)

I got my eyebrows microbladed literally YESTERDAY sooo… don’t mind those ;)

Happy Week of Loveee :)

I am one of those people that really LOVE Valentine’s Day and all the hearts, all the pink, and all the red! What better week than this one to talk about our favorite thing ever: Toddler Discipline. HA! Kidding…Eww. I know. It’s not fun - but I’m writing this post in hopes that it can help other parents who may need a new strategy or who feel like they’re walking on egg shells around their “threenager” like we did! This isn’t sponsored by “1-2-3- Magic” … and I highly suggest you get the book to read it for yourself … but I just want to share WHY we started using the techniques discussed and how it has worked or rather TRANSFORMED our home.

The WHY

As parents we have always tried to be super consistent with every aspect of our children’s lives. We are consistent with their routines at bedtime, at nap time … we were consistent with potty training … we are consistent when it comes to the morning routine, etc., and it’s all good because it works for us. There was one area that we weren’t being consistent in and that was in our approach to discipline. (i.e. are we doing time-outs? are we ignoring? are we just talking calmly? are we distracting?) For awhile it wasn’t much of an issue because London always cooperated and listened fairly well. We used the “distraction” method as long as we could - but when London neared 3.5, I was feeling pretty helpless. I had tried different tactics but none of them seemed to be working. London was starting to do things like slamming doors and saying disrespectful things to both Chris and I. I know, she’s 3 and that comes with the territory (somewhat), but I really felt like if we didn’t nip it now, it would get worse later and MORE THAN THAT…I’m NOT okay with anyone slamming doors in my face. Even though our doctor said “just ignore it; it’s normal toddler behavior,” I didn’t really want to ignore it. It seemed like I was getting into these power struggles with this tiny human leading to more and more meltdowns.

I had read a few books before this one about staying calm, ignoring tantrums, avoiding time outs and taking “time-ins,” speaking directly etc., some of which worked for half of the day… but by the end of most days, after I was exhausted from lectures and repeating myself, I would often lose my patience. I was raising my voice more often than I wanted, which never made me or London feel good. I was essentially crying to Chris every night when he got home and felt like I was failing at my “job” which feels absolutely TERRIBLE especially when your job is being a stay at home mom. I knew that we needed to find a way to fix this or we would all go literally insane!

HELLO Magic!

A few weeks back, I went to my alumni basketball weekend at the University of Maine and had the best time with some of my former teammates. A lot of us are now raising kids that are around the same age - and we started talking about some of the challenges that I was facing with London and the constant power struggles. That’s when my friend recommended the “1-2-3 Magic” book. I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical because like I said, I had read other books already that led me to lots of dead ends. After I listened to how it had transformed her household, I pretty quickly ordered it. Thank GOD I did.

I LOVE that this book, unlike the others I have read, actually gives you a consistent plan when it comes to discipline. Any behavior that you want to stop such as whining, disrespectful talk, hitting, throwing etc. can be “counted” using the 1,2,3 counting method that the book discusses! The first thing we did was sit London down and tell her that we have new “house rules.” The book instructs you on how to do this and the reason in doing it. I think it’s an important step because it shows that you and your spouse/partner are a united front and are both on board. We also did a dress rehearsal to demonstrate what it would mean if we counted to ‘3’ and she had to take a “time out.” (London thought it was hysterical to send Chris to our room for 3 minutes. Ha!) Also, we do three minute time-outs because Lo is 3 years old. She spent the next two days after our little house rules chat testing us to see if we were going to follow through. We did :)

An important part to this whole thing being successful is NO TALKING on the part of the caregiver. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT and it was REALLY hard for me at first. I was so used to lecturing / explaining WHY we don’t do something or say something that isn’t kind etc. It is also my favorite part of the entire process because by eliminating the talking - my days instantly became a lot less exhausting.

Just to give you an example of how this works…one thing that London would do that always seemed to DRIVE ME CRAZY was that whenever she got frustrated she would say “I don’t like you” to anyone that was around; could be me, a friend, her grandparents, a stranger … literally anyone. I tried putting her in time out anytime she said it, didn’t work. I tried ignoring it completely, didn’t work. I tried explaining to her that this hurts feelings and isn’t kind, DEFINITELY didn’t work … but for whatever reason - THIS WORKS. She has only said this once since we began this entire process - which is a major win!

For the purpose of this blog post, here is an example of how an exchange might go (there are LOTS of examples given in the book which really help too!)

London: “Mommy, can I have a cookie?”

Me: “Not right now. It’s too close to dinner time.”

London: “I want one now!”

Me: “That’s 1.” (said calmly and holding up one finger)

London: “I don’t like you, Mommy!”

Me: “That’s not kind. That’s 2.”

London: (yelling) “No!!!”

Me: “That’s 3, take 3.”

At this point ideally Lo would go to her room but if she doesn’t go on her own, I would calmly pick her up and put her in her room WITHOUT SAYING A WORD and start the timer for 3 minutes. When the timer is done I would go into her room and say, “timer is up!" and that’s IT. I wouldn’t lecture or explain why she got a time out … we start FRESH and move on like nothing happened. London is usually smiling saying “let’s read, Mom!” or even “I’m sorry Mom!” … it’s pretty amazing.

Here is another example of the same situation as above, except this time ending in a MOMMY WIN…

London: “Mommy, can I have a cookie?”

Me: “Not right now. It’s too close to dinner time.”

London: “I want one now!”

Me: “That’s 1.” (said calmly and holding up one finger)

London: “Okay, maybe I can have one after dinner!” (exits room)

The first example looks a lot like how things would have gone 2+ weeks ago before implementing this strategy. The second example is absolutely what happens now. Let it be known, I have definitely used this outside of our home as well. I’ve counted at the doctor’s office, at Target, at London’s preschool pick-up and in front of friends/family. If you’re worried about feeling embarrassed when counting in front of other people - throw that out the window. It’s pretty freaking awesome to be able to just say “that’s 1” to get your child to stop doing whatever it is you don’t want them to do.

Our house is definitely a more relaxed place and just calmer overall. London was certainly craving consistency in the area of discipline and we were totally NOT fulfilling her needs. I think children really crave boundaries and the meltdowns that London was having were almost a cry for help. She was frustrated, I was frustrated … and now I feel like my girl is back and we are completely enjoying our time together.

I wanted to share this with other parents because maybe you’re feeling a bit helpless like I did. Don’t lose hope. Parenting is really freaking hard…like REALLY hard. We are all just doing our best. Please take a peek at this book and let me know what you think. I truly hope it meets you where you are! As always, please message me here or DM me on Instagram and I will respond to you if you have any questions! Love y’all! Keep being amazing!!

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xx, Ashley