1-2-3 Magic Video is Magic for Parents and Children

I learned something recently. Something that I knew but didn’t totally understand. Think about this for a second and what it means to you. Parenting is not a democracy. 1 second..

I have always known this and have written about how you need to take charge and not talk too much when disciplining but until I saw the video my son’s counselor loaned to me I never fully understood what it all meant. This video opened my eyes to some things that I was doing wrong.

I have been using the counting method with my kids for years. One… TWO… THREE! That’s it, you need a TIME OUT!. It worked moderately well. Now I’ve seen how it’s really supposed to be done and WOW was I shocked at how much better it works when you really do it right.

I know I have you wondering what the name of this video is. I’m going to tell you and then I’m going to explain why I needed it, what kinds of success I’ve had with it and what kinds of modifications I’ve had to make to make it successful with my boys.

If you’ve read through this site you might be familiar with my youngest son. He has P.D.D. which is a high functioning form of Autism. What this means to me and my family is that he is a handful and then some. Don’t get me wrong, he’s as sweet as can be and smart as a whip but when it comes to discipline he has his uncontrollable moments. Screams when he doesn’t get his way and bangs his head on the floor, hits and throws things. I was at my whits end and started seeking help. A year later I finally got a counselor to come to my house and meet him and give me some advice. She loaned me this video and it’s changed my life.

Oh, I forgot to tell you what it’s called. It’s called “1-2-3 Magic, Managing Difficult Behavior in Children 2-12” by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. In this video you see Dr. Phelan telling a group of educators and parents about his technique and explaining to them how they can use it. You also get to see examples using real life situations. Some of it is funny, cause it’s true, and some of it is what I like to call “Wow Moments”.

Not only am I using this technique with my youngest but also with my other boys and I’ve seen a world of difference with them too. My 7 year old has a problem with it. When I say “one” he says “don’t count me”, then I say “two”

The main things you want to remember when using this technique is:

  • No talking or discussion

  • Never negotiate, parenting is a dictatorship not a democracy

  • Don’t talk about it after the time out has been served

Let me tell you more about why Seth’s counselor lent this to me. Seth is slightly autistic. What this means to me, regarding Seth, is that when I try to punish him he screams and screams, then bangs his head on the floor and cries. When he’s finished with his temper tantrum he goes right back to doing the thing he’s being punished for and makes sure I’m watching. I was at my wits end with what to do with him. I know some of you know this feeling.

I signed up for a service called “Wrap Around” or “Provider 50”. When I get this service someone will come to my house and observe us in action and then help us deal with the issues that we have. It’s paid for through the state because Seth is Autistic and has insurance through the state because of this.

Anyway, I signed up for this service 8 months ago (April 2004) and just started getting calls to add me to waiting lists 2 months ago (November 2004). Seth is on several lists but we still didn’t get any help.

One day I went with Seth on a class trip. It was awful. He didn’t want to do anything and wouldn’t do the projects with the other kids. His teachers saw this behavior for the first time. The next day I got a call from Seth’s counselor.

She came to my house twice to observe and offer advice. The first time she came it was just Seth and me at home. The next time the whole family was here. Both times she offered advice that helped. Then she dropped off the video. Life has been very different since then.

What I learned: The hardest part about parenting is being consistent. Being busy is not an excuse to not discipline. Every time he does something unacceptable I need to stop whatever I’m doing, even if it’s right in the middle of writing an article, and do what needs to be done, for Seth’s sake.

This technique is not just for autistic children. It’s for all children, it’s just a plus that it works on children with special needs too.

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