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Have You Read Either of These Books?

Hello Mamas! My 5 year old is very strong-willed and thinks he is boss! A friend suggested a book called "Love & Logic Magic For Early Childhood Practical Parenting From Birth to Six Years". I've also heard that "1-2-3 Magic- Effective Discipline For Children 2-12" was also a good one. Would love to get your feedback on either and if you found the books to be helpful. Thanks!

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I've never read either. But in my opinion (mother of 4 grown kids) "Dare to Discipline" and "The Strong Willed Child" both by James Dobson are GREAT books. In fact, I think "Dare to Discipline" should be a requirement for parenthood! It's so full of wonderful tips and instruction. I think every mom should own a copy. I read it over again with each of my kids.

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I've never read either. But in my opinion (mother of 4 grown kids) "Dare to Discipline" and "The Strong Willed Child" both by James Dobson are GREAT books. In fact, I think "Dare to Discipline" should be a requirement for parenthood! It's so full of wonderful tips and instruction. I think every mom should own a copy. I read it over again with each of my kids.

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Good question! I have not read 1-2-3 Magic, but I do have some insight for you to ponder. A professor of mine in Grad school for Early Childhood Education was describing 1-2-3 Magic and she was not in favor of it. She said it basically teaches the child that they have 3 chances of continuing the undesired behavior before you expect the alternative behavior. She said it can lead the child to believe you don't mean what you say until the third time.

Instead, she suggests letting your child know what the expectations are ahead of time and what the consequences will be if the rules are not followed. Depending on how old the child is, it can be helpful to have them help in deciding what the house rules are. Let them have their input, with guidance from you. Tell kids what the expectations are and make them clear, and it is also helpful sometimes if you say that you are sure that they can do it because you have confidence in them (in terms they will understand).

It is also good to let them know that you understand they are upset or want something, etc. and acknowledge their feelings. They are much more willing to listen to what you have to say if you verbally acknowledge what they are feeling. This might sound like, "I can see that you are not ready to come inside. It's time to come in for dinner before it gets cold, but we can come back out for a few minutes after dinner" (or go out early tomorrow, etc). If he is given three more chances to come inside, he knows he gets to play that much longer while you wait until the third chance. If he refuses, you can give him the choice of: "Do you want to come in by yourself or do you want me to help you?"
It's important to be firm and consistent in your decisions and follow through each time.

Two books I would recommend instead of 1-2-3 Magic are "Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community" by Alfie Kohn and "The Power of Guidance" by Dan Gartrell. These are relatively short books and pretty easy to read. They will really get you thinkin! They are geared towards discipline in the classroom, but can easily be used for your own home.

Whatever you choose to read, just remember that no author can successfully predict what each child will need as far as discipline and guidance. It's impossible that one single technique will work for every family, so pick and choose what will work for you guys.

Best wishes!
C. G.

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Although I like many things about Love and Logic and am not as familiar with 123 Magic, my favorite is The Family Virtues Guide, by Linda Popov. But, I really think there is much to be gained from combining the wisdoms of all these sources. The Boys & Girls Club of American have adoptoed the strategies of The Virtues Project. Other than Scripture, it was the most important book I had raising my son and in my various jobs working with children.

I thought you might enjoy a story about my son's natural capacities and desires to be the boss:

While driving my son to kindergarten one day, he looked up at me and said, "How come you always get the be the boss and I never get to be the boss?"

Because of my studies in teaching virtues to children, I readily recognized that obedience was the virtue to teach and the spirit of real obedience comes from an appreciation of authority and the benefits it provides. So, I turned to him and said, "Wow, you would be willing to be my boss!?"

With a bit of surprise he responded, "Well, sure!"

I said, "That is so sweet of you. Do you have any idea how much I would have to pay someone to be my boss for me? It would be so nice of you to take over." I quickly followed that with, "I tell you what, I've already got today under control. How about you be the boss tomorrow?"

I wish you could have seen the look on his face! He didn't expect the conversation to go so well. He responded with a sound of unexpected victory in his voice and simply said, "Okay."

I changed the subject and talked about what they might do in school that day.

On the way home I waited to see if he would bring the subject back up. He didn't. After a while I said, "When we get home we can sit down and make a list of all the things you will need to know so you can be the boss tomorrow."

He looked up happily and said, "Oh... Okay." But, I could see the cogs turning in his head. After a few seconds he looked up sheepishly and asked, "Like what?"

I replied, "Oh my goodness, if you are going to be my boss, you will need to know what time I need to get up; what I need to wear; what I need for breakfast; what time I need to be at my class..."

He didn't say a thing. He decided he wanted to play instead of making the list when we got home. He never asked the question again.

The important thing is that he developed a greater appreciation of the service a boss provides and it helped him in his ability to exercise obedience out of respect rather than out of a fear of punishment.

This is the kind of understanding parents can gain from studying the strategies explained in The Family Virtues Guide. I am currently facilitating a free discussion group for adults learning to use the knowledge in this book. If you are in the St. Louis area and want to attend, contact me directly and I will send you a flyer.

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I've done all three parenting classes out there 1-2-3 Magic, Common Sense Parenting, and Love and Logic. The basis for ALL of the classes is to remain unemotional...i.e. don't let the kid get to you. In 1-2-3 Magic is premise is when they are doing a behavior that you don't like you start the count "That's 1" if they don't stop it within say 3-5 seconds you say, "That's 2" and if it continues, then "That's 3, Take x amount of minutes (1 per year) for a time out. Time outs don't begin until AFTER any or all tantrums have come to a complete halt. Once the time is served you don't mention the offense again...basically, what's done is done and everyone walks away from it. Eventually, through reptition of the time outs they learn the behavior modification and stop testing the waters. No yelling, no hitting, just counting and discipline.

Love and Logic is the same principal. You're attitude is "That's so sad" you are the empathetic one but they are learning that it's tough love they get to make logical and good decisions. It's sort of a principal based on you wanting them to screw up so they learn a lesson (granted nothing HORRIBLE) but like staying up too late...ok, you can stay up as late as you want but you HAVE to be up at 6 am to get ready for school (yada yada yada). Of course, they will stay up most of the night...but you make all the racket in the world at the wake up time...make them go to school (even if they sleep through it) and they learn on their own that there is a reason for bed times. Just an example.

Common Sense Parenting is based on the rules of Boystown and it too is a very good program.

I think overall ANY of the books would be helpful (although I have often heard that 1-2-3 Magic seems to be the hokiest...but it's just they way it's written in conversation text...it really DOES work). I would recommend checking with your local library to see if they happen to have the videos of any of these programs as they are very good supporting documentation.

Our local public school has offered the classes free of charge on nearly a quarterly basis as well as several of the churches. You may also want to see if your local Parents as Teachers administrator is offering a class. I found 2 hours a week with free babysitting services to be not only cathartic but also a great networking with other parents to say, been there done that...here's what worked for me, here's what didn't. Frankly, I've used a combination of all 3 classes on my 4 & 5 year old. For the most IMMEDIATE response and quickest turn around...DEFINITELY 1-2-3 Magic is the one to go with. The others take several weeks for them to actually catch onto. With us, I took care of the most immediate problems with 1-2-3 Magic and then started using common sense parenting and love and logic interspersed to keep them on their toes.

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I read a book called Scream-Free Parenting by Edward Runkel. It was very good, and has helped me parent better and see better behavior from my kids. This book was very critical of behaviorist methods, such as 123 Magic. He says that might be fine for dogs, but what a parent really wants is not so much children who are always obedient, but who grow into adults capable of making good choices, of knowing what they want and choosing to go after it, rather than simply following orders forever. I think the behaviorism can be dangerous, in that it does bring short-term rewards for the parents, but it can be kind of addictive. One enjoys the satisfaction of being obeyed, and forgets how to interact in a way that is respectful of the child's individuality, and it's a slippery slope. Eventually the kids will go out on their own, and what will they do when you aren't there to count to 3?

1 mom found this helpful

I've read Love and Logic -- good ideas and easy read. Also "Setting limits with your strong-willed child: eliminating conflict by establishing clear, firm, and respectful boundaries" by Robert J. Mac Kenzie. I've seen criticisn of 123 because it teaches kids that in life they can always get 3 chances, and that they don't have to listen right away. I've always been annoyed by seeing people use it with their kids, but maybe I've never seen it done right...parents are afraid of getting to three, (two and a haaaaaaaaaalf) and the kids know it. Good luck.

I have heard of the Love and Logic one, but haven't read it. Our school's Parents As Teachers program had a seminar on it. It was very informative, so I'm sure the book is good. I have read parts of the 123 Magic book. The tactics work for us! I usually try logic with my son, and if he doesn't cooperate I start the 123 with him. Very rarely do I even have to count to 2. Good luck!

1-2-3 Magic was great, easy to read and enjoyable. It gave me lots of new ideas, and so far the 1-2-3- counting method has worked well with my 3.5-year-old.

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