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1-2-3 Magic: 3-Step Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting

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Are you the parent of a strong-willed child? Is bedtime a nightly battle? Are you looking to get your kids to behave without yelling? Whether you have a toddler, preschooler, or school-aged child, this parenting book can help you create a calm, happy home. Since kids don't come with a manual, 1-2-3 Magic is the next best thing. Dr. Thomas Phelan has developed the #1 selling Are you the parent of a strong-willed child? Is bedtime a nightly battle? Are you looking to get your kids to behave without yelling? Whether you have a toddler, preschooler, or school-aged child, this parenting book can help you create a calm, happy home. Since kids don't come with a manual, 1-2-3 Magic is the next best thing. Dr. Thomas Phelan has developed the #1 selling child discipline book in the country - a quick, simple, and scientifically proven way to parent that actually works! Using his signature counting method, Dr. Phelan helps parents to quickly, calmly, and effectively stop behaviors like tantrums and meltdowns, whining and pouting, talking back, sibling rivalry and more in toddlers, preschoolers, and middle schoolers. He guides parents through drama-free discipline methods that will help with: Getting kids to listen Dealing with difficult/spirited children How to discipline a toddler What to do about sibling rivalry No drama when you discipline Dr. Phelan also covers how you can easily establish positive routines with children ages 2 - 12 around: Bedtime Dinnertime Homework Getting up and out in the morning and tips for strengthening your relationship with your kids Millions of parents from all over the world have used the award-winning 1-2-3 Magic to raise happier families and put the fun back into parenting, combining love and logic to make you a more peaceful parent with a happy kid. 1-2-3 Magic is one of Healthline's Best Parenting Books of 2017, a 2016 Mom's Choice Award Winner, a 2016 National Parenting Product Award Winner and a 2016 Family Choice Award Winner.


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Are you the parent of a strong-willed child? Is bedtime a nightly battle? Are you looking to get your kids to behave without yelling? Whether you have a toddler, preschooler, or school-aged child, this parenting book can help you create a calm, happy home. Since kids don't come with a manual, 1-2-3 Magic is the next best thing. Dr. Thomas Phelan has developed the #1 selling Are you the parent of a strong-willed child? Is bedtime a nightly battle? Are you looking to get your kids to behave without yelling? Whether you have a toddler, preschooler, or school-aged child, this parenting book can help you create a calm, happy home. Since kids don't come with a manual, 1-2-3 Magic is the next best thing. Dr. Thomas Phelan has developed the #1 selling child discipline book in the country - a quick, simple, and scientifically proven way to parent that actually works! Using his signature counting method, Dr. Phelan helps parents to quickly, calmly, and effectively stop behaviors like tantrums and meltdowns, whining and pouting, talking back, sibling rivalry and more in toddlers, preschoolers, and middle schoolers. He guides parents through drama-free discipline methods that will help with: Getting kids to listen Dealing with difficult/spirited children How to discipline a toddler What to do about sibling rivalry No drama when you discipline Dr. Phelan also covers how you can easily establish positive routines with children ages 2 - 12 around: Bedtime Dinnertime Homework Getting up and out in the morning and tips for strengthening your relationship with your kids Millions of parents from all over the world have used the award-winning 1-2-3 Magic to raise happier families and put the fun back into parenting, combining love and logic to make you a more peaceful parent with a happy kid. 1-2-3 Magic is one of Healthline's Best Parenting Books of 2017, a 2016 Mom's Choice Award Winner, a 2016 National Parenting Product Award Winner and a 2016 Family Choice Award Winner.

30 review for 1-2-3 Magic: 3-Step Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Awful book. Their method is all about eliminating "problem" behavior. And yes, I suppose the method is good at stopping a behavior you don't like once the child starts doing it. But the child only stops the behavior because they're threatened with a punishment and they don't want the punishment. Not because they're being taught the correct way to behave instead. The book doesn't at all address teaching the child to have their own self-discipline when an adult isn't around to monitor their behavi Awful book. Their method is all about eliminating "problem" behavior. And yes, I suppose the method is good at stopping a behavior you don't like once the child starts doing it. But the child only stops the behavior because they're threatened with a punishment and they don't want the punishment. Not because they're being taught the correct way to behave instead. The book doesn't at all address teaching the child to have their own self-discipline when an adult isn't around to monitor their behavior. It doesn't at all address trying to find the root cause of the behavior to figure out why the child was behaving that way in the first place and teaching the child to express their needs/wants in a more appropriate manner. There's only a brief chapter at the end about active listening and even in that chapter they mention threatening a timeout if the child starts to get too worked up during the conversation. This book is all about using punishments and rewards to control your kids behavior and not at all about compassionately and kindly disciplining your kids and teaching them how to have their own self-discipline. I highly recommend Kids Are Worth It by Barbara Coloroso and Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen instead.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tanya W

    Great parenting book (but I have to admit, I think I have now had my fill for a while on parenting books). I have heard references to this book several times over the years and I finally decided on my sister's recommendation to read it. Unfortunately, we get a few parenting book recommendations... haha. I know if I apply this consistently, it will be positive all around. I have started, but I know I need to be more consistent AND get Eric on board. So here are my notes for me or anyone else who fe Great parenting book (but I have to admit, I think I have now had my fill for a while on parenting books). I have heard references to this book several times over the years and I finally decided on my sister's recommendation to read it. Unfortunately, we get a few parenting book recommendations... haha. I know if I apply this consistently, it will be positive all around. I have started, but I know I need to be more consistent AND get Eric on board. So here are my notes for me or anyone else who feels like reading them (spoilers or my "cliff notes"): 123 Magic is a plan for dealing w/bad behavior that doesn't include yelling or physically intimidating or abusive behavior (which is only likely to help them learn to deal with problems by yelling and physical intimidation since kids model parents). It's easy to make 2 parenting mistakes: too much talking and too much emotion. Kids have a hard time w/ being inferior. My upset is a "big splash" for them. Emotional outbursts accidentally help them feel powerful! Three parenting jobs: 1)Controlling obnoxious behavior. 2) Encouraging good behavior. 3) Strengthening relationship. We deal with STOP behaviors by counting 1,2,3 (including whining, arguing, teasing, tantrums, yelling, fighting, invasive touch, etc... behaviors you want to stop). You don't talk or reason since your children are not little adults... you condition them to stop their behavior by counting 1,2,3 with 5 seconds in between counts. Words and reasons are not effective with young children. A consequence follows if they don't stop by three (including time-out, early bedtime, loss of electronics, no dessert, extra chore, no talking, no friend over, no TV, money fine, write paragraph or "lines"). Punishment should be mild and reasonable (administered by a non-tantruming parent). We deal with START behaviors by giving praise, making simple requests, using a timer, a docking system, natural consequences, charting, and counting variation (start behaviors include cleaning up, being kind, playing nicely, going to bed, doing homework, playing piano, etc.). We STRENGTHEN THE RELATIONSHIP by listening, having one-on-one time together, talking, solving problems, and by managing technology. Routines are necessary for positive outcomes... same time, same place, same way. Morning Routine (up, wash up, dress, eat, leave). Chore chart (or weekly cleanup or pickup before dinner). Homework routine (neat, correct, thorough, no complaining, starting w/o reminder, reading, math). Suggested consequences for major, medium, and minor offenses that require special attention: Grounding 2 wks/1 wk/2 days. Fine $25/$10/$5. Chores 15 hrs/8 hrs/4hrs. Community service 15 hrs/8 hrs/4hrs. Educational activity 8 pg paper/4pg paper/2pg paper. Format for a one-on-one meeting... "We have a problem... what do you think? What can we do? How can I help?" (pretty much same agenda for family meeting... we have a problem... How do we sove this?... This is our solution... post on fridge... next). Quotes: "Childhood is a period of transitory psychosis." They are born unreasonable and selfish. My job is to help them learn frustration tolerance (while being gentle, consistent, decisive, and calm). "I'm a wild animal trainer." Choose method and apply until "trainee" does desired action.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I didn't finish this book. I got fed up with it after reading the phrase, "1-2-3-Magic is not magic, it just seems like it!" five times in the first thirty pages. It was also peppered with sarcastic remarks that were probably meant to be cute and funny but just got on my nerves and were borderline offensive. ("What if you have children who always respond to words and reasons? You are certainly lucky! Recent research has indicated that there are three such children in this country. If you have on I didn't finish this book. I got fed up with it after reading the phrase, "1-2-3-Magic is not magic, it just seems like it!" five times in the first thirty pages. It was also peppered with sarcastic remarks that were probably meant to be cute and funny but just got on my nerves and were borderline offensive. ("What if you have children who always respond to words and reasons? You are certainly lucky! Recent research has indicated that there are three such children in this country. If you have one or more of them, you may not need this book." or "Instead, with the 1-2-3, you hold up one finger, look down at your noisy little devil, and calmly say, 'that's 1.'") More importantly, I did not care for the methods they were suggesting. They might work, but there has to be a better way than threatening your children by counting to three every time they do something wrong. I would recommend "Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child" by Robert J. MacKenzie over this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    This book was recommended to me by a friend who has 10 children. It was helpful in understanding what to do when you as a parent get frustrated with your children. I especially liked the authors explanation on little-adult syndrome. Children are not naturally logical like adults and I make that mistake all the time with my five year-old becuase he talks to me like he's an adult sometimes. To make the counting discipline effective you have to use silence. I've found it effective and it certainly This book was recommended to me by a friend who has 10 children. It was helpful in understanding what to do when you as a parent get frustrated with your children. I especially liked the authors explanation on little-adult syndrome. Children are not naturally logical like adults and I make that mistake all the time with my five year-old becuase he talks to me like he's an adult sometimes. To make the counting discipline effective you have to use silence. I've found it effective and it certainly helps me keep my cool, however, I felt that some of the examples shared in the book the parents weren't listening to the child. I think listening to our children is important to their self esteem. The book is an easy read and though I didn't agree with everything, I think it is helpful in understanding how to discipline children.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Kirkhoff

    How in the world do you begin to discipline a young child? When they get older, it's easy: no TV, no dessert, no play time with friends. But what about when all they do is run around and torment the place? Enter "1-2-3 Magic". It has a simple premise. Tell the child to stop doing something. If he doesn't stop, "that's one". Give him until three, with about five seconds in between one and two. On three, he's off to his room or isolated in a chair for a minute or two. When the timeout is complete, How in the world do you begin to discipline a young child? When they get older, it's easy: no TV, no dessert, no play time with friends. But what about when all they do is run around and torment the place? Enter "1-2-3 Magic". It has a simple premise. Tell the child to stop doing something. If he doesn't stop, "that's one". Give him until three, with about five seconds in between one and two. On three, he's off to his room or isolated in a chair for a minute or two. When the timeout is complete, everything is back to normal. No lectures on why daddy did this or asking if you learned your lesson. With my child, it took about four times. He now obeys before I get to "two". It was amazing. (At this writing, he's about 4) Consistency is the key. Also parents need to understand something called the "Little Adult Assumption". This is the misguided belief that little kids have hearts of gold and are reasonable and unselfish. They're quite the opposite. It was eye-opening when I started looking at my son this way instead of a small version of me. The book is broken down into Start Behaviors and Stop Behaviors. For me, the Start Behaviors will be addressed when he's old enough to do homework, clean his room, etc. Right now it's important to have him stop doing something. The book also contains lots of information on positive feedback (don't just give your child attention when he's bad) and how to handle their attempts at manipulation. I'm glad I found this book when I did. It's important to lay a good foundation for discipline and to hopefully prevent allowing a wild, uncontrollable kid loose on friends, neighbors, and teachers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    whitney

    Thoughts on 1-2-3 Magic: First note: My child is what’s called “2e”: gifted, with ADHD, SPD, and OCD…so we’re solidly in “differently wired” territory. (I’m also very likely a 2e person). This book was recommended to me for addressing some of the really challenging behavior issues we have at home. While I think there is some (maybe even quite a lot of) value in the structure provided by this kind of approach, a few things really, really bug me: He says something along the lines of “unless you are Thoughts on 1-2-3 Magic: First note: My child is what’s called “2e”: gifted, with ADHD, SPD, and OCD…so we’re solidly in “differently wired” territory. (I’m also very likely a 2e person). This book was recommended to me for addressing some of the really challenging behavior issues we have at home. While I think there is some (maybe even quite a lot of) value in the structure provided by this kind of approach, a few things really, really bug me: He says something along the lines of “unless you are a grossly neglectful or abusive parents, your kids know that you love them. Tell them so, but never tell them when they’re testing”. And…I just know, from my own experience, that this is not true. I did NOT *know* my parents loved me (and I would not classify them as abusive or neglectful!). What I learned from my parents, who withheld demonstrations of love and affection when I wasn’t behaving up to expectations so as not to “reward” such behavior, was that I was only lovable (heck, only likable/valuable at all) when I was behaving perfectly according to someone else’s expectation. Love felt very, very conditional to me. I probably don’t need to unpack how deeply unhealthy it is to think that you are only lovable if you’re perfect, but I genuinely, truly, did think that, and I *still* struggle with feeling worthless when I’ve made a mistake, still don’t quite trust that I won’t be sent away/rejected. Some of that perfectionism is probably inherent to me and the way I’m wired (like, I may have been inclined this way regardless of the approach my parents took), but I also know that the “withhold affection when behavior isn’t up to snuff” parenting approach absolutely fed into it and exacerbated it to the point where I didn’t realize that being something other than what someone else wanted me to be didn’t mean that I was unloveable until therapy in my late 20s. (And I *still* have a hard time with trusting people to love me even if I’m just myself.) I also think that I learned that if I was having a hard time, I was on my own for dealing with it, and would be sent away/ignored instead of helped or coached. There’s just no place in this method for actually coaching a child through a meltdown, teaching them how to handle feeling yucky in a productive way. It’s just “go to your room”. I just fundamentally don’t think that’s a productive way to approach things, and it doesn’t leave kids with any strategies to fall back on when they’re having a hard time. I think there’s an important connection being missed here with ADHD-style Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, too. The consequence for not stopping a behavior once warned through counting is LITERAL rejection in the form of being sent to time-out in another room (and maybe Dr. Phelan doesn’t see it or frame it that way, but I promise you that someone who experiences RSD will almost certainly experience it that way.) I also just dislike the framing of children as little manipulators. I’m not saying they don’t manipulate…I think they do, sometimes, just like everyone does. But I think far, far more behavior than we realize is not driven by an intention to manipulate; it’s a matter of not having the skills they need to communicate, ask for what they need, and function appropriately in the family. (I’m much more aligned with Ross Greene’s “Explosive Child”/lagging skills approach than the 1-2-3 Magic one, I think.) So much of what the book calls “Stop” behavior looks like “child having a hard time” behavior to me. Phelan makes this big deal about how we shouldn’t think of kids as being miniature adults, and I think that’s spot on - we shouldn’t, but part of what being a child (and not a miniature adult) means is that you don’t have all of the skills that an adult has, and someone needs to TEACH THEM TO YOU. Coaching is absolutely part of what parenting is, and what discipline is. (“Discipline” comes from “teaching”, not from “punishing”, etymologically, and I’m not one to lean on etymology too hard, but I think it’s important to remember what “discipline” is and what it isn’t.) How does the child learn any coping strategy other than “stuff it” under the 1-2-3 Magic approach? Respect, too, is something I feel is almost nonexistent in this book. Yes, as the parents it’s our job to set the rules and to discipline, and kids need to respect us and listen to us, but how are they going to learn to do that if we never listen to and respect THEM (in an age-appropriate way, of course), if we just shut them up with counting when they question us? That doesn’t feel even remotely respectful to me. The tone throughout talks about kids as “brats” and “little devils” - not respectful at all. And I was SERIOUSLY bugged by some of the examples of the book where parents were doing a “good job!” of using the 1-2-3 Magic skills. It felt like the kids weren’t allowed to do anything other than immediately obey without complaint. I’m not aiming for that kind of authoritarian dictatorship…and I don’t think that’s going to lead to a kid who’s a good, functional, independent member of a society that’s NOT a dictatorship, down the road. Another random thing: in the discussion of natural consequences in relation to Morning Routines (kids want to go to school, will be upset if they’re late more than a few times), there is NO discussion of how kid’s lateness causes parental lateness. Why does no one ever talk about this? Do most adults have jobs where it doesn’t matter if they get there twenty minutes late?? I mean, I teach when I teach, I can’t just show up late because M decided to be a slowpoke one morning! I mean, obviously that particular natural consequence is not one I’ll be taking advantage of for that reason, but seriously, it boggles my mind how often that natural consequence is suggested without any acknowledgement that kids being late means parents are late, too. Like, I’ve never, ever seen anyone who suggests that particular natural consequence mention the parental lateness aspect of it, and then I end up feeling like I’m some sort of alien for thinking about it. Yes, Part V, with chapters about sympathetic listening and fostering independence and problem solving, does kind of address some of the issues I had with the earlier parts of the book. KIND OF. I still think probably 90% of the cases presented in the early part of the book would actually have been better handled with using sympathetic listening..and honestly, this section feels like it’s from a different book, just sort of tacked on because oops, maybe the rest of this book sounds too authoritarian and nasty.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I was a skeptic. There is no "magic" in childrearing, and while I was desperate enough to seek discipline help, I wasn't expecting to find it. They've made a convert out of me! This book really works. In a nutshell, stop talking so much when you discipline your kids! We are very guilty of this transgression. Our curious kid wants to know about everything and is firmly entrenched in the "why?" phase. So it was natural for us to also explain why you can't put your feet on the table/hit someone/whin I was a skeptic. There is no "magic" in childrearing, and while I was desperate enough to seek discipline help, I wasn't expecting to find it. They've made a convert out of me! This book really works. In a nutshell, stop talking so much when you discipline your kids! We are very guilty of this transgression. Our curious kid wants to know about everything and is firmly entrenched in the "why?" phase. So it was natural for us to also explain why you can't put your feet on the table/hit someone/whine incessantly, and why you have to brush your teeth/go to bed/wait your turn. We also know how much children learn through repetition, so we'd continue to expound on these themes ad nauseum. He was sick of it, we were sick of it, and it was not working. So, this book taught to give him a little more credit and shut up. We tell him one time (per episode) what the rule is and why that is the rule, and after that there is no negotiating or further explanations. End of story. "This will never work," we whispered to each other. It worked! It worked! We can all live together again! We will definitely be revisiting this book as he gets older (we bought our own copy). I recognized many things in here that would have worked on me, especially in those troublesome teen years. For example, you don't do your chores? That's fine, but since you outsourced it (to a parent), your allowance is docked for that task. Or, back to the overexplaining: to me it was like the more times my parents said something, the weaker their argument was. In my eyes their explanation meant tey were having to justify it and prove it to me, therefore it was not valid. I think I would have responded better if it was a one and done situation. I have to say this again: I can't believe it worked! It worked! *Minus one star for some of the rather unrealistic dialog scenarios

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenette

    So glad I didn't waste my money and purchase this book. Very grateful to libraries for this very reason. This book is a recommended read by our local Children's Hospital. I do not have discipline issues with my children, and for the most part, it is because I don't use this nonsense. I can see where this method would create some huge discpline problems where there wasn't any before, or even compound and make things worse if there is a discipline problem. This technique only provides children the So glad I didn't waste my money and purchase this book. Very grateful to libraries for this very reason. This book is a recommended read by our local Children's Hospital. I do not have discipline issues with my children, and for the most part, it is because I don't use this nonsense. I can see where this method would create some huge discpline problems where there wasn't any before, or even compound and make things worse if there is a discipline problem. This technique only provides children the permission and opportunity to push the limits and boundaries, even going past limits and bounderies, by giving them repeated warnings before a consequence is finally inflicted. Does not prepare children to function in the real world, nor does it teach them responisibility for their actions. The theme repeatedly through this book is "I as your parent, am going to enable you to push as far as you can in rule breaking before I issue a consequence." This is more of a power struggle game that actually gives the child the upper hand. It challenges kids and even provides the ammunition to push the limits as hard and fast as they can. The parent then becomes a pawn in the child's hand. There is nothing positive or constructive about that. This technique doesn't do anything to build or promote a positive parent/child relationship. Just a bunch of pop psych. crap. If my parents used this dopey technique on me, you better believe I would have found every single loop hole and taken the challenge to push as far as I could before I got punished.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shana

    I knew this was going to be a terrible book. It was recommended to me by a terrible speech therapist who was a behavioral therapist wanna-be, and a bad one at that. Thankfully she got fired because apparently no one else liked her approach either, which was based on this book. I read the book though, because hey, I'm open minded. You wont see me say this often, but I lost some brain cells by reading that book. I would not be so unkind as to recommend this book to anyone. Now, usually I can take I knew this was going to be a terrible book. It was recommended to me by a terrible speech therapist who was a behavioral therapist wanna-be, and a bad one at that. Thankfully she got fired because apparently no one else liked her approach either, which was based on this book. I read the book though, because hey, I'm open minded. You wont see me say this often, but I lost some brain cells by reading that book. I would not be so unkind as to recommend this book to anyone. Now, usually I can take some knowledge from anything I read. What I took from this is that, there are people out there with so few brain cells that they read this and feel they have gained something. I learned from this book that people can be fooled by a pile of poop with frosting. They take a bad idea, throw in some semantics, and voila: a frosted pile of poop. Don't get me wrong, I actually do believe in the power of words. I just find that sometimes the way you approach something matters, and other times it really just is semantics. And apple is an an apple even if you call it a pear. You can call it a pear though. It still tastes like an apple though. And this book was a rotten apple.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Honestly, this book has a lot of sound advice and good ideas. I would highly recommend it for anyone who was having trouble with discipline in their home. The low rating comes mostly from three things: 1) I felt like a good chunk of the advice was pretty intuitive (maybe this just means I had GREAT parents myself, and so not much of the "method" here is revelatory to me, because it's what they did and so very similar to what I've naturally done); 2) I dislike the author's tone pretty frequently Honestly, this book has a lot of sound advice and good ideas. I would highly recommend it for anyone who was having trouble with discipline in their home. The low rating comes mostly from three things: 1) I felt like a good chunk of the advice was pretty intuitive (maybe this just means I had GREAT parents myself, and so not much of the "method" here is revelatory to me, because it's what they did and so very similar to what I've naturally done); 2) I dislike the author's tone pretty frequently throughout (I felt he was condescending--talking to people like they need things dumbed down and repeated excessively); and 3) it focuses very little on building a positive relationship (y'know, love and things) with your children, which I personally feel takes care on its own of many of the "problems" children tend to have or create. (And, yes, I recognize that last "complaint" should possibly be disregarded, because from the get-go the author more or less states that he will be focusing on specific aspects of parenting, but... still. It's something I think is so vitally important that it's hard not to see it receive a little more focus.)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    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 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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I picked up Phelan's 1-2-3 Magic after having it recommended by my son's paediatrician. I was not entirely sure what to expect, as many people have told me that parenting, even discipline, is not rocket science. Truth be told, it had become a daunting and somewhat overwhelming task for me and I thought that if anything could help, I'd give it a try. Phelan chooses to break the book (and the system) down into three digestible portions: dealing with obnoxious behaviour, creating and sticking with I picked up Phelan's 1-2-3 Magic after having it recommended by my son's paediatrician. I was not entirely sure what to expect, as many people have told me that parenting, even discipline, is not rocket science. Truth be told, it had become a daunting and somewhat overwhelming task for me and I thought that if anything could help, I'd give it a try. Phelan chooses to break the book (and the system) down into three digestible portions: dealing with obnoxious behaviour, creating and sticking with routines, and strengthening parent-child relationships. He presents the system not as anything overly complex, but sometimes overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the every day life of a parent. By using basic techniques to tackle STOP behaviours (read: obnoxious), Phelan empowers the parent with a counting system sure to reap rewards if handled effectively. He differentiates this from START behaviours (things that need to be part of a regular routine or that NEED doing) by setting up praise, organising time limitations, injecting consequences, and following through in an emotionally neutral manner. All this, while continuing to foster the needed relationship with children so that they not only respect you as the parents (and not only for your disciplinarian skills) but also as a fellow human being. In a few short hours, any parent can be well on the way to better control of the situation and keep the emotional waves from crashing down on top of the household. Phelan lays it all out and makes it fun to learn. The techniques Phelan professes are not anything you'd likely not agree with from the outset, but it is always better to see them supported with explanations and examples rather than off the cuff comments from other parents as they roll their eyes. The book is a wonderful tool to help build up parental confidence as well as structuring the household in a calm and level-headed manner. Parents and children alike will surely benefit from the skills and options presented in the twenty-five chapters, although neither may be as energetic in the early days. Empowerment is key, while respect is also an essential part of Phelan's program and it can all be done in a few weeks, with willing parental participants. With easy to understand explanations and no psychobabble, Phelan is able to sell the idea quite easily and helps parents retain control of the household, while not appearing overly dictatorial and frigid. Kudos, Dr. Phelan for such a great book that helped boost my confidence in what will surely be a trying task.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Hooper

    It is always hard to fully implement the parenting techniques given in any book, because your situation never seems to quite fit the mold. We have had some success using 1-2-3 magic, but there was certainly no "magic" to it. I am sure the author would accuse us of not following it as exact as we should, but trust me, you cannot always send your child to "take 5" or give them another equally as impacting discipline when you are supposed to. Further, our child tested this method (i.e., let us get It is always hard to fully implement the parenting techniques given in any book, because your situation never seems to quite fit the mold. We have had some success using 1-2-3 magic, but there was certainly no "magic" to it. I am sure the author would accuse us of not following it as exact as we should, but trust me, you cannot always send your child to "take 5" or give them another equally as impacting discipline when you are supposed to. Further, our child tested this method (i.e., let us get to the count of three despite repeated time-outs and other lost privileges) much longer than is warned about in the book. It has been a few months and he is finally reacting positively to the 1-2 count. Another issue with the 1-2-3 method, is our son knows he just got a pass when we say 1, and almost always repeats the offense up to the count of 2... So annoying! I have started to tell him "that's one AND two!" and then he stops.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Fetzer

    5 stars because it really has worked with managing the boys’ behavior. When I became a parent I had internalized the idea that counting at kids trained them to disobey. This is not true; counting gives them a chance to regulate their own behavior and make good choices. My oldest hates getting counted to 3, so he stops on the first count most of the time. Before we would argue and haggle and pitch fits at each other, now that’s a lot less likely to happen. The book spends a lot of time talking abo 5 stars because it really has worked with managing the boys’ behavior. When I became a parent I had internalized the idea that counting at kids trained them to disobey. This is not true; counting gives them a chance to regulate their own behavior and make good choices. My oldest hates getting counted to 3, so he stops on the first count most of the time. Before we would argue and haggle and pitch fits at each other, now that’s a lot less likely to happen. The book spends a lot of time talking about how to stop unacceptable behavior through counting. But just as important are the sections on teaching and training the responsibility and positive behavior that parents want to see as well as building relationships through one-on-one time. I recommend this book for parents or really anyone who works with children.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary_Ann

    Offers some good guidance but view of children a bit brow-raising. I appreciated the insights about the necessity of being calm and consistent (following through on what you have said) when it comes to setting standards and consequences for children. However, I was a bit uncomfortable with the author's view of children. Perhaps the author is attempting levity in order to diffuse parental frustration, but for me, his portrayal of children made me squirm in my chair. In a nutshell, Phelan bases his Offers some good guidance but view of children a bit brow-raising. I appreciated the insights about the necessity of being calm and consistent (following through on what you have said) when it comes to setting standards and consequences for children. However, I was a bit uncomfortable with the author's view of children. Perhaps the author is attempting levity in order to diffuse parental frustration, but for me, his portrayal of children made me squirm in my chair. In a nutshell, Phelan bases his discipline philosophy on the idea that children are "sort of nuts! They are born unreasonable and selfish, and it is our job...to help them become the opposite. How do you do that? You start by changing your thinking about children. ...instead of thinking of your kids as little adults, think of yourself as a wild animal trainer!" Some may agree that "when your kids are little, your house should be a dictatorship where you are the judge and jury." However, it did make me uneasy in the moments when he calls the children "little devils" and says things like, "You look down at the unhappy little monster, hold up one finger and say, 'That's 1.'" A little mishandling of this philosophy about children could, no doubt, lead to abuse of children. Of course, this is true about any discipline technique, and yet, I do feel that Phelan could've written this more professionally so that his attitude would not be so easily misconstrued.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    I have a love/hate relationship with parenting books. I love the ideas in (most of) them but actually instigating the changes rarely happens. They also tend to be hard for me to get through because they go into such depths of explanations, etc, etc. I guess I have parenting ADD :( Not the case with this super quick read "1-2-3 Magic". It is a quick read and, because they only focus on three things, it's a quick implement. I admit to being skeptical - I have always mocked the parents who count, "1 I have a love/hate relationship with parenting books. I love the ideas in (most of) them but actually instigating the changes rarely happens. They also tend to be hard for me to get through because they go into such depths of explanations, etc, etc. I guess I have parenting ADD :( Not the case with this super quick read "1-2-3 Magic". It is a quick read and, because they only focus on three things, it's a quick implement. I admit to being skeptical - I have always mocked the parents who count, "1, 2, 3" realizing, as their kids do, that they are begging, not parenting. But this book really points out the difference in implementing the "count" (namely taking the emotion and talking out of it) and I am excited to try it. Honestly I don't have many issues with the "start" behaviors so I breezed through those chapters and spent my time on the "stop" behaviors. It was funny to read the different ways the kids will test your resolve and recognize each of my children in each of the behaviors - I have a compulsive badgerer and another that runs through them all like it's a merry-go-round. So fun! It's nice to have a new technique up my sleeve.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Clint

    My wife used to always watch the show Super-Nanny trying get tips for raising our kids. I couldn't stand it. It was 1% information to that load of drama and crazy kids. Bleh. This book on the other hand is Excellent. Its a short book that really gives you a framework to: 1) Stop your kids obnoxious behavior, 2) Get your kids to Start doing stuff (chores, getting ready for bed, etc.) and 3) Helping you set aside time to build healthy friendships with your kids. My wife read the book and was so exc My wife used to always watch the show Super-Nanny trying get tips for raising our kids. I couldn't stand it. It was 1% information to that load of drama and crazy kids. Bleh. This book on the other hand is Excellent. Its a short book that really gives you a framework to: 1) Stop your kids obnoxious behavior, 2) Get your kids to Start doing stuff (chores, getting ready for bed, etc.) and 3) Helping you set aside time to build healthy friendships with your kids. My wife read the book and was so excited she summarized the info and encouraged me to read it. The book was short an to the point, and here is the important part: it works. Yesterday we took the boys out to eat in public and they totally behaved well. Sure you have to keep an eye on them, like any kid, but now its so much less frustrating since I now have a really solid guide for how to discipline and reward them. I highly recommend this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Linn

    I have not read a parenting book in about twelve years (not because I think I have it all figured out, because I'm too busy parenting). :) This book is awesomeness. I feel like I have really good kids (at least they work for me) and this took their goodness to a new level. Taking the emotion out of discipline is exactly what I needed. I want to be able to save all emotion for the good parts of parenting and skip on it for the frustrating parts. I truly believe that anyone who follows this idea, I have not read a parenting book in about twelve years (not because I think I have it all figured out, because I'm too busy parenting). :) This book is awesomeness. I feel like I have really good kids (at least they work for me) and this took their goodness to a new level. Taking the emotion out of discipline is exactly what I needed. I want to be able to save all emotion for the good parts of parenting and skip on it for the frustrating parts. I truly believe that anyone who follows this idea, truly follows it as he has it outlined, will absolutely love it. I am a huge, huge fan. One of the best moms I know recommended it to me and I would recommend it to anyone. And besides, it is simple simple simple. Anyway, I would give it 4 1/2 stars if I could. I've been following it for a week and honestly cannot believe the difference in how I feel and how the kids feel. Convinced you yet?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elyse

    I can't decide if this book had a poor philosophy or just isn't my parenting style, at all. I had seen quite a few people recommend this book over the years, and thought I'd give it a shot. Honestly, it was the most mundane, typical parenting advice. They spend the first 30 pages repetitively stating that you'll be saying "1-2-3 Magic!" after you read the book, you'll be so amazed. Then the climax is literally them telling you to count, put your kid in time out when you get to 3, and then don't I can't decide if this book had a poor philosophy or just isn't my parenting style, at all. I had seen quite a few people recommend this book over the years, and thought I'd give it a shot. Honestly, it was the most mundane, typical parenting advice. They spend the first 30 pages repetitively stating that you'll be saying "1-2-3 Magic!" after you read the book, you'll be so amazed. Then the climax is literally them telling you to count, put your kid in time out when you get to 3, and then don't address the issue afterward - just repeat as needed. Similar to dog training, they state. I cannot believe an entire book was written and devoted to this. The rest of the book offers various ways to tweak this to your child's age, all which seemed pretty intuitive. I think I was also expecting more information about child development, but anything included seemed purely speculative and without studies cited. Bummer.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mat Davis

    We implemented some of the tactics and ideas in this book and found it to be very helpful. It doesn’t solve all of the issues, but it’s a tool in the toolbox that has increased our parenting effectiveness.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Magen

    Within the first few pages, it became clear this book isn't for me. Phelan opens with an example of a mother raising 3 boys who tries 1-2-3 magic. At the end of the program, she said she experienced for the first time liking her kids and missing them when they went to school. This book really seems geared at the kinds of parents who want their kids to do exactly what they want them to do and if they don't, they don't enjoy their kids. Second, the book lists reasons to trust this method with the Within the first few pages, it became clear this book isn't for me. Phelan opens with an example of a mother raising 3 boys who tries 1-2-3 magic. At the end of the program, she said she experienced for the first time liking her kids and missing them when they went to school. This book really seems geared at the kinds of parents who want their kids to do exactly what they want them to do and if they don't, they don't enjoy their kids. Second, the book lists reasons to trust this method with the first several being some of the weakest support I've seen for a program of any kind. The book lists: the number of copies it sold, the number of languages its been translated too, and the amount of time it's been on the top of Amazon's parenting list as the top three reasons to trust this program. It lists that this program is evidence based last and that fact says a lot about the quality of the program. Third, one of his first arguments for his program is that the alternative, reasoning and talking with a child, will very quickly devolve into arguing, yelling, and hitting your child. Yes, hitting your child. Because it is his opinion that reasoning almost never works with children so the parent will always become so frustrated that they will engage in aggression towards their child. Again, this is evidence that this book is geared toward parents who want to control their kids behavior only and not work on developing a well rounded child. Fourth he argues that all children are illogical, unreasoning, selfish beings who are incapable of understanding another's emotions or reasons or explanations. While this is true to an extent for toddlers, it is not true as children age, especially as they become school age. This book is geared to raising children from as young as 18 months to as old as 12. Normal 12 year olds are capable of compassion and reason and arguing they're not raises serious doubts about Phelan's qualifications on the subject. These are the issues I have with the book at only 12% of the way through.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    There were some good take-aways from this book, but a few of the ideas made me cringe a bit. It has a somewhat disrespectful view of children, in my opinion. I also don't like how it said, over and over again, "control your child's annoying behavior." I don't believe that controlling a child so that they act in a way that doesn't annoy me is my job as a parent. There were some good take-aways from this book, but a few of the ideas made me cringe a bit. It has a somewhat disrespectful view of children, in my opinion. I also don't like how it said, over and over again, "control your child's annoying behavior." I don't believe that controlling a child so that they act in a way that doesn't annoy me is my job as a parent.

  23. 5 out of 5

    M. Langlinais

    This was “assigned reading” by our pediatrician. While the counting technique seems like a good one, my kids are all older, so I’m not sure how well it applies. Without getting into personal issues, I’ll say this is probably a great book for people with younger children. It doesn’t entirely fit my/our situation however.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    One of the most common sense parenting books I have read. It could have been written by a friend. It seems doable in every day life and applicable to most situations...not just textbook ones.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katie Konow

    We 1,2,3 our toddler to great effect. I don't think I've gotten past two in weeks. A very helpful book. We 1,2,3 our toddler to great effect. I don't think I've gotten past two in weeks. A very helpful book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ty Bullinger

    Dnf. A dated fear based system of discipline. “Do what I say or else” type of parenting. Just a step above spanking. Interesting to see the advice earlier generations of parents were given, but advice that is no longer any good.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aime

    Hits on good points with trying to stop behaviors. Start behaviors are harder to understand but most make sense.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Allen

    Presents clear format for discipline style. Helpful use of anecdotes but too much promotion of probable success with program. Some good take aways.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paul Smolen

    The back cover of the book, 1,2,3 Magic asks, “Who’s in charge at your house?” If you can’t answer “You, the parent are” , then listen up as we review our latest read. I am sure that over the years you have read several books that describe the best way to discipline children. After several frustrating moments and graying hairs, you might have chosen to just pick and choose methods, trying to see what will finally have an effect. You and I know however, that the real issue is in the simplicity of The back cover of the book, 1,2,3 Magic asks, “Who’s in charge at your house?” If you can’t answer “You, the parent are” , then listen up as we review our latest read. I am sure that over the years you have read several books that describe the best way to discipline children. After several frustrating moments and graying hairs, you might have chosen to just pick and choose methods, trying to see what will finally have an effect. You and I know however, that the real issue is in the simplicity of the method, consistency, and sticking to it. Being persistent. That’s where 123 Magic shines and why we are pleased to recommend the book! This book is a simple book to read, understand, and later apply. Now in its fourth edition, it covers a wide range of issues, such as correcting obnoxious behavior, encouraging good behavior, dealing with more serious issues, and even providing assistance to teachers in their classrooms. The book begins by differentiating between stop and start behavior. Stop behavior includes the frequent but minor behavior such as arguing, screaming, and tantrums. Start behavior includes chores, homework, and sticking to a regular morning and evening routines. The counting procedure that the book is named after, “1,2,3,” is used for stop behavior. The start behavior includes several different tactics outlined in the book such as using a kitchen timer or charts. For correcting both types of behavioral issues, Dr. Phelan emphasizes consistency and removing emotion from the discipline process. This system may be used not only by parents, but grandparents, teachers, and other caregivers after the children have been introduced to the method, for a period of time. We were surprised by how simple his system is to implement. It really is about counting and not yelling, begging, or hitting. Dr. Phelan forbids parents from injecting emotion into their discipline process. He says that children feed off of the emotions of their parents. He calls this the “NO TALK, NO EMOTION” rule. Many parents that open this book might think that their child will not respond to these methods but Dr. Phelan insists that with consistency and proper application of the counting method and using the tactics for start behavior, effective discipline can be implemented in any home. In this now fourth edition of 123 magic, Dr. Phelan has added a dynamite chapter on how parents can handle technology issues (email and internet time, texting boundaries). No other book we have picked up has been able to so efficiently handle this subject. This book is very accessible, written in everyday language without heavy psychology jargon. The chapters are short and may be read in bursts. In fact, many of the paragraphs are simply responses to bold-faced questions in the text, which makes it easier to find an answer to your specific question. The examples of parent and children interactions are extremely practical and the ideas and suggestions for each behavior are doable. This does not require some kind of disciplining certification; it really is simple to adopt these practices immediately in your home. We really thought this discipline method showed respect to children by removing the often belittling lecturing, yelling, and insulting talk children often hear from their parents. One of the three big goals of the 123 method is to improve your relationship with your child, not to just get control. Now for the negatives: One downside to this book was that there seemed to be a lack of emphasis on setting a good example by the parents. He lists over and over again how important it is to avoid the parental tantrums, basically when parents lose control while trying to discipline, but he does not comment on what the children observe in the home. For example, the parents may be calm with their children but perhaps not with other adults. He also states that oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorders may be created by poor parenting and frankly, we are not sure that is correct. Lastly, the book was poorly edited, in the eBook edition that we read. All in all, we agree that one of the goals of parenting is to improve your relationship with your children. This book certainly does that by providing a simple discipline method, useful to all parents, and respectful behavior towards both parties. This is especially great for parents with children between 2 and 5 years old who are looking to get off to the right start with boundaries and limits as well as encouraging good habits in the home. We give it 5 out of 5 stars. - See more at: http://www.docsmo.com/123-magic-by-th...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Becca McCulloch

    Easy to implement technique. My son responded well. Book predicted child behaviors well.

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