How to discipline your child with 1, 2, 3 Magic

When my son was 3-years-old, I had problems managing his behaviour as he was quite a strong-willed child. So after discussion with a psychologist friend, I started using a method called ‘1,2,3 Magic’. This is a method where you give your child three warnings for bad behaviour and if they continue, you give them a consequence such a timeout or taking away a toy.

So how does it work exactly?

Well the first time your child does something you don’t want them to do, you say ‘That’s 1’, the second time you say ‘That’s 2’ giving them time to stop their bad behaviour but if they continue you say ‘That’s 3’ and follow it with a consequence. By having a three-step system, it allows the child time to try to change their behaviour.

When I first started using the 1,2,3 Magic method, I did use  far too many words. For example, I would say ‘Stop throwing your food on the floor’ to my son, then if he continued, I would say ‘If you don’t stop throwing your food, you will go into timeout’ and then if he still didn’t stop throwing his food I would say ‘Now you are going into 3 minutes of timeout for throwing your food’.

I realised that I was using too many words and started just saying ‘That’s 1, 2 or 3’, so that my authority carried more weight. It also gave my son less room for argument. By the time my son was four, his behaviour has markedly improved.

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