123magic

Book: 123 Magic discipline book by Phelan.

In his book 1-2-3 Magic, EffectiveDiscipline for Children 2-12, Thomas Phelan adds a twist to time-out that works inmany families. This discipline book is great for stop-behavior problems.

Book Review 

1-2-3 Magic Effective Discipline for Children 2-12

By Thomas Phelan

Don’t argue or explain when a rule is being enforced; then don’t soothe your guilt feelings by trying to explain. This is the best way to discipline and solve stop-behavior problems.

In his book 1-2-3 Magic, Effective Discipline for Children 2-12, Thomas Phelan adds a twist to time-out that works in most families. In fact, many families consider this discipline system to be magic!

According to Phelan, you must first rid yourself of an erroneous idea about children known as the "little adult assumption." Kids are not little adults; they are kids. Explanations, persuasions, and logical reasoning usually have little or no effect on children. They simply do not respond to reasons and explanations in the same way adults do.

Second, you must determine if you have a stop-behavior problem, such as arguing, tantrums, and teasing, or if you have a start-behavior problem, such as going to or rising from bed, eating, and doing homework or chores. 

The 1-2-3 counting system is used more often to deal with stop-behavior problems like whining, arguing, temper tantrums and the like. It is rarely used to get children to clean their room, rake the leaves, or finish their homework.

Third, remember that children often feel small and inferior because they are smaller and more inferior than adults. Therefore, if they can arouse an emotion in parents, such as anger, excitement, or some other feeling, they have "scored" with an adult. They often enjoy the temporary power the emotions and attention that "scoring" bring.

Phelan points out that parents who exclaim, "It drives me absolutely crazy when he eats his dinner with his fingers. Why does he do that?", have often answered their own question. The child may do it at least partly because it drives them crazy. It gives him/her a feeling of control.

Phelan writes, "So a corollary of this is: If you have a child who is doing something you don’t like, get real upset about it on a regular basis and, sure enough, he’ll repeat it for you.

Any discipline system, including Phelan’s counting method, can be ruined if parents talk too much or get too excited. Therefore, parents must also follow Phelan’s "No-Talking, No-Emotion" rules.

You count, just that. You don’t interject emotional tirades such as "Look at me when I’m talking to you" or "Just wait until you see what we are going to do about this temper tantrum." 

You don’t participate in arguments. You merely count to three, then start time-out. 

When you continue to talk, argue, or show emotions, your child does not realize that continued testing and manipulation is useless. Until he realizes that it is useless, he will continue to try something that has worked at times in the past.

Try this! Instead of your usual routine, try giving one explanation, if necessary, then start to count. Don’t give further reasons, start to argue, get frustrated or mad. Just start to count.

  If the behavior has not stopped by the count of three, the child gets the appropriate time-out period: about one-minute for each year of his life. Then he or she is allowed to return to the family and no one brings up what happened unless the behavior is repeated or it is absolutely necessary.

In other words, don’t argue or explain when a rule is being enforced; then don’t soothe your guilt feelings by trying to explain. Welcome the child back as if all is forgiven and it is time to get on with the day. If he or she seems to need a hug or other reassurance, give that reassurance and quickly return to what you were doing.

This discipline system has a book, (new & updated publication), CD, and two DVDs. The book and the CD are the same thing.

The DVDs are movies of Dr. Phelan’s workshops. 

So, what to buy?
My recommendations are:

If you are on a budget: Buy the book or the CD; I prefer the CD because it can be loaned out to grandparents and teachers. Almost everyone will watch a CD. Many won’t read a book.

Also, buy the DVD for managing difficult behavior IF you feel you child is more difficult than most. 

Otherwise, watch the CD (or read the book) and then come back for the DVDs if you need more instruction.

If money is fairly free for you,  if you have a child who is out-of-control, or if you are a professional, buy the CD and both DVDs.


Buy book  
Buy CD (Covers are slightly different)

Spanish book is available 
Buy Spanish Edition

Buy Teachers’ Edition 


Buy DVD

Managing Difficult Behavior


Buy DVD

Encouraging Good Behavior

This is the best discipline system I have seen. It is time proven to work!!

Book Review by Janet Wilson: Copyright © 1998 CyberParent. All rights reserved. Updated, 2006 by Janet Wilson, Copyright © CyberParent. All rights reserved.