Book offers strategy tip for disciplining kids


Discipline is a difficult part of parenting. All children need limit setting and clear expectations of behavior. They are in training for about 18 years and parents are the trainers.

Many parents ask me about spanking. I really don’t feel spanking is a very effective training tool and we, as parents, don’t need to inflict pain in order to take control.

Thomas W. Phelan came up with a positive discipline method called “1-2-3 Magic.” It is easy to learn and teaches children how to make good choices and decisions. I recommend Phelan’s book and also his video.

Here is a concise picture of his method.

(1) Give the child a request or warning regarding what you want them to do or not do.

(2) If the child did not respond, begin counting to three. (holding up your fingers: “That’s one.” “That’s two,” “That’s three.” The parent response needs to be verbal and visual. (Have the child look at you.)

(3) If the child hasn’t followed through with your expectations or request, then say, “That’s three—take five,” and place the child in a timeout chair or have the child go to its room to be alone. (The child should be away from visual stimulation, especially the TV.) Leave the child in time out for one minute for every year of the child’s age. Set the timer, but don’t start the timer until the child is sitting quietly in the chair.

Some examples of behaviors needing discipline are physical aggression toward others (fighting), biting, kicking, destroying or not respecting property, bad language, lying, temper tantrums, and disrespect of authority figures.

Phelan says the parent’s rules are very important also. They are: (1) No talk (i.e.. explanations, arguing, preaching, or lecturing); and (2) No emotion (i.e.. showing your anger and frustration).

Joyce Kyle, a licensed specialist clinical social worker, is one of four therapists at Client Centered Counseling in McPherson.


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