Whether you are driving, on the phone, in public, or entertaining, there is always some spot for 1-2-3 Magic and time-out as a means of discipline for your child.
An advantage of the 1-2-3 time-out method of discipline is that grandparents, other relatives, and caregivers can use this system. too. This gives a consistent message from everyone. Consistency is always the most important part of any discipline, of course.
Why such a short time as one minute per year of life?
You want your child to gain control of his/her behavior, not come out mad and ready to go to war. Remember, time-out in any form is not punishment; it is a time to gain control.
How long do you wait between counts?
Just long enough for the child to shape up, about 3 to 5 seconds. Remember, also, that children have short attention spans. Therefore, if a child does three things wrong in any 20 minute period, count her to three. If however, the child hits his sister, stops at the count of two, then twenty minutes pass and he grabs her toy, start over with one. So, yes, you can count different disruptive behaviors to get to three.
Phelan further suggests that you never leave home for a long trip with the kids without discipline plans. He writes, “Have the 1-2-3 and a few other tactics in your hip pocket, because you’re going to need them.” What if my child won’t go to her room? Phelan suggests that you carry her to her room as long as you are larger. Most uncooperative children will stay a step or two ahead of you once they realize you are serious. The larger child can have a choice of a rest period or some deprivation such as a monetary fine or lost TV time. If that doesn’t work, remove yourself from the child so arguments don’t ensue. A well-stocked bathroom means you can lock yourself away from the arguments of your twelve year old for twelve minutes. Ahhh, peace!
What if the child won’t stay in his room?
Don’t start a tug-of-war or a major battle on either side of the door. First, try adding minutes of time-out every time he leaves the room. If all else fails, install a lock, explain what it is for, and use it. As soon as the child realizes the door is really a barrier, he will learn to stay put.
What if she destroys the room?
Leave it alone. If it is cleaned up, by you or your child, she can destroy it again at the next time-out. Let her dig for school books, pajamas, and other items until she has at least three peaceful time-outs. Then help her clean up. If she trashes the room again, leave it alone again until she repeats three calm time-outs. Remember: remove dangerous or valuable items before the first time-out with a potential room wrecker.
What if you are on the phone or have other people over?
Excuse yourself and count to three, even if it means hanging up on a long-distance call. Children soon sense that you are easier to circumvent when you are on the phone or in the presence of others. If the other people, such as a doting aunt or uncooperative grandparent, attempt to intercede on the child’s behalf, Phelan suggests you become assertive until they learn to go along with your discipline system without intervention.
What if you are in public?
Children soon learn the power of public embarrassment, even before they are two years old. And, armed with this power, they usually try harder and more often in public. Don’t argue, wheedle, or beg. Firmly count to three, then look for time out places. Phelan suggests the following places for your child’s rest period:
- Right where you are as you hold his/her hand
- Leave him/her and continue alone
- The shopping cart for small children
- A corner of the public place
- The bathroom
- The car
- Outside the store or restaurant if ages are appropriate.
What if you are driving?
Try no-talking or merely pulling off the road during the time-out period. Sometimes you can separate fighting children in front and back seats. This is not safe with small children, of course. You can also fine them in some manner for passing the count of three.
Note: The opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the position ofCyberParent. They are not intended to take the place of advice of a health or other professional whose expertise you might need to seek.