1-2-3 Magic Book Summary


Parenting young children is challenging. As a parent, you may often be met with screams and tantrums. You often wonder if you are doing anything right. Many parents fail to discipline their children effectively. It is not because either children or parents are at fault. It is usually due to a false assumption. This assumption is called the Little Adult Assumption. The Little Adult Assumption leads parents to think their children can be reasoned with. Parents expect that a child who is throwing a tantrum will stop because of reason. This outcome is rare. That is because children are not adults. Children’s brains are still developing. Children throw tantrums out of frustration. They can’t get what they want. Adults need to help kids learn to handle their frustration. In this book, you will learn the 1-2-3 Magic system. This will help you discipline your kids effectively.

Effective parents have two essential qualities. First, they are warm and friendly. Second, they are also demanding and firm. In this book, you will know when to bring out these qualities in different situations. You will also learn how to balance both qualities well. Being a parent is a long-term and challenging job. But its benefits are advantageous. The job of parenting has three goals. First, it is controlling undesirable behavior. Second, encouraging good behavior. Lastly, it is strengthening your relationship with your children. The most effective parents are those who prepare their children for life’s challenges. The best parents are those who never stop strengthening their relationships with their children.


Your first job as a parent is to discipline your children. Misbehaviour is also known as Stop Behaviour. It refers to actions you want your child to stop doing. These can be whining, screaming, yelling, arguing, or tantrums. You must be consistent, decisive, and calm when you are disciplining them. The key here is to avoid reacting. This is what author Thomas Phelan calls the “No Talking No Emotions Rules. “For example, your 4-year-old son has asked for a cookie right before dinner. You refuse him. He starts screaming at you. He says you never let him have anything. It may be tempting to yell back at him. It pains you to hear him say that you never gave him anything. But remember, you must be firm but calm. This is where the counting comes in. Your son is frustrated for being denied what he wants. So, you must help him calm. down. A time-out is one of the best ways to do so. You must remember to keep quiet when counting. Do not make additional counts between counts. For example, avoid counts like “Two and a half… two and three quarters” before getting to 3. Just count normally, such as “1, 2,….”

Count out loud and avoid further comments or nagging. Avoid reacting as much as possible. This is the 1-2-3 magic system. The first time your child screams, count, “That’s 1”. This functions as a warning. Give him 5 seconds. Allowing this short pause gives your son time to think and do the right thing. You are allowing the child to learn to take responsibility for their behavior. If he continues to scream, count “That’s 2”. Hopefully, your child has calmed

down by this time. He will stop his bad behavior.If he does not, he has reached the count of 3. At this point, he now has to take a time-out. You would say, “That’s 3. Take a break.” The general rule for the length of a time-out is 1 minute per 1 year of the child’s life. So, your 4-year-old would have a 4-minute time-out.The time-out functions as two things. First, it is a consequence of bad behavior. Second, it is a cool-off period for your kid. This is how you can help your children learn to manage their frustration.

Refrain from speaking to your kid during a time-out. Avoid the urge to lecture, scream, or nag at your child. Staying quiet and calm shows that you are serious about disciplining your child. When the time-out ends, you do not have to explain anything. Do not make additional comments. It may be tempting to ask your son, “Are you going to be a good boy now?” Avoid these kinds of statements. They are irritating, and it will provoke the child. The child. will get frustrated all over again. You will end up undoing the purpose of a time-out.Let them do as they please. The point is to let the child cool off. You will see that after a time-out, your child will have calmed down. If he behaves, praise him. This is one way of reinforcing good behavior. If your child starts misbehaving again, use the 1-2-3 magic system again to count.

you are serious about disciplining your child. When the time-out ends, you do not have to explain anything. Do not make additional comments. It may be tempting to ask your son, “Are you going to be a good boy now?” Avoid these kinds of statements. They are irritating, and it will provoke the child. The child will get frustrated all over again. You will end up undoing the purpose of a time-out.Let them do as they please. The point is to let the child cool off. You will see that after a time-out, your child will have calmed down. If he behaves, praise him. This is one way of reinforcing good behavior. If your child starts misbehaving again, use the 1-2-3 magic system again to count.

You may experience your child refusing to go to time-out. There are some options here. For example, your son can choose another consequence. These can be going to bed earlier, deducting money from his allowance, or banning computer use. If your child does not pick, then you can choose the punishment. The counting system is much more effective when parents work together. You and your spouse must be consistent with the counting. This shows the children that you are serious. It makes it easier to discipline the children effectively.


As a parent, you are training your child for good behaviour. For example, doing their homework, washing the dishes, and getting ready for bed on time. Asking them to do these tasks will frustrate your child. It is rare for a child to do chores happily. When a child is frustrated, she has two options. She can cooperate, or she can challenge you. When a child chooses to challenge you, this challenge can take form in two ways. These two ways are testing and manipulation. These are the methods to avoid discipline. In other words, a child will use this to get out of doing the chore. Note that choosing to test or manipulate is a human psychological strategy. It does not mean that your child is psychologically troubled. Some adults use some of these tactics also to get their way. It is a normal part of childhood. This is why disciplining your children is essential.

There are three ways that a child can test and manipulate. All of these are often used by children to get what they want. Badgering. Badgering is repeating something over and over. For example, they will ask you “why?” over and over. This tactic is often used in combination with the others. Rita is four years old. She enjoys going grocery shopping with her mom. Her favorite thing about it is pushing the carts. However, she tends to run around with the carts. Rita’s mother does not like this. Last week, Rita ran into a man’s cart. Her mom is afraid Rita will eventually hurt someone. Rita asks if she can push the cart. Her mom refuses. She tries to distract Rita by pointing at something else. Rita does not back down. She asks why she cannot push the cart. Her mother tries to explain and negotiate. She warns Rita not to give her a hard time. Rita continues to insist on pushing the cart by herself. Her mother loses her temper. She yells at Rita to stop it. Rita gets upset.

She starts crying in the grocery store. She claims that she never gets to do anything she wants. Her mother is desperate for Rita to stop crying in public. She gives in and gives Rita a cart. Rita’s mother looks Rita in the eye. She asks Rita to promise not to run around with the cart. Rita promises. After a few minutes, Rita starts running around with the cart. Her mother pretends not to notice. Instead, she decides to go home. This is an example of giving into a child’s tactics. In the end, Rita gets precisely what she wants. Her mother does not get to complete the grocery trip. The mother has given away her authority to her child. Rita does not end up disciplined. But what if this is what happens? Rita asks if she can push the cart. Her mom refuses. When Rita asks why, her mom starts her 1-2-3 count, she says, “That’s 1.” Rita insists on her way. She starts stomping her feet. She yells that she wants to push the cart by herself. Rita’s mom counts it as 2.This is an example of how counting can stop a tantrum. If Rita’s mom had not started counting, Rita could have started badgering as a tactic. Rita’s mom does not plead or explain too much. She simply starts counting. After the second count, Rita does not bother anymore. She listens to her mom.

Physical Tactics. This is more common for younger children. They may not be able to express themselves well verbally yet. They would prefer to hit, for example. One other form is running away. These are common for children under seven years old. Giving the child what she wants will stop the testing. However, this is something you should avoid. Otherwise, you are giving your child authority over your house. You are letting the child call the shots. But you are the parent. You must retain your authority. Children will repeat tactics that allow them to get back at adults causing their frustration. So, how do you know if a child is getting her revenge? It all depends on your reaction. Do not let your child upset you. Getting upset shows the child that he’s in control. Do not give away your authority by reacting to their tactics. Remember, you must stay consistently calm and decisive. This is key to disciplining your children effectively. Intimidation. Tom is eight years old. He asks his mother if he can use his father’s electric tools in the basement. Tom’s father is not at home.

His mother refuses. She tells Tom to wait until his father is home. She is concerned about his safety. Tom insists that he knows how to do it. His mother still refuses. He says that there is nothing else to do. Tom is starting to use the intimidation tactic. His mother starts using the 1-2-3 system and counts this as a 1.Tom loses his temper and goes for the intimidation tactic.He yells back at her, “THAT’S 1! THAT’S 2! THAT’S 3! THAT’S 20! THAT’S STUPID! “His mother remains calm. She counts the outburst as a 2. He does not back down. He insults his mother. She counts a 3. She tells him to take a time out for ten minutes. She adds an extra five minutes for his insults. Tom refuses to go to his room. His mother gets up to escort him. He goes to his room on his own.


Your second job as a parent is to encourage good behavior. This includes doing their homework, eating their dinner, and cleaning their rooms. Encouraging good behavior takes more effort. That is because you need to motivate your child. This is also called Start behavior.They are behaviors, or habits, that you want your child to do. Do not use the 1-2-3 magic system for Start Behavior. It is only used for Stop behavior. There are two reasons for this.First, it will confuse the child. Second, stopping bad behavior does not take long. It takes about a minute to stop a child from whining. However, starting good behavior takes longer.Cleaning a room or doing homework can take at least thirty minutes.Keeping quiet will still apply here. Refrain from reacting or saying too much. Avoid nagging, arguing, yelling, or hitting.

Training your child for Start behavior requires repetition. This is where creating routines come in. When kids learn a routine, they do these things automatically. For example, you can establish a night routine. This could have several steps like brushing their teeth, changing into pajamas, and picking out a bedtime story. Part of a routine is doing it every day, at the same time, at the same place. Kids need to see, feel, and remember their routines for them to stick. There are three strategies for helping children start good behaviors. Simple requests. There are three parts to making small requests simple. They are tone, timing, and phrasing. First, use a business like tone. Avoid having a tone specifically for telling your kid to do chores. Parents’ chore voices tend to nag. It irritates the child. Avoid saying things like, “You’re not doing what I asked you to do, and it’s very annoying.” Instead, say, “It’s time to do your homework.” It shows that you are serious. Otherwise, you can count them using the 1-2-3 Magic system. Second, time the request. Give your kids a little warning before asking them to do something. Nobody likes to be interrupted, especially when the request is not fun.

That includes children. This is why establishing routines is important. When chores are scheduled, it reduces spontaneous requests. For example, make it a routine for your son to take out the trash before playing. This reduces the chances of having to interrupt him while he is playing. This is what will upset him. Third, phrase your request properly. Avoid comments like, “Don’t we think it is time to do our homework?” It can encourage testing and manipulation from the child. Instead, be direct. For example, “I want your homework done by five o’clock. “Natural consequences. This approach requires doing absolutely nothing. In short, allow your child to face the consequences of their choices. For example, part of your son’s morning routine is to make his lunch. He always wakes up late. He forgets to pack his lunch. He comes home complaining about how hungry he is during lunchtime. In this case, do nothing. Simply say, “I’m sure you’ll do better tomorrow”.

Let his hunger remind him to make his lunch tomorrow morning Charting. This method requires a calendar or a similar tool. You will use it to track a child’s record of doing her Start behavior routines. It is best to limit a chart to three to five behaviors. Keep your charts simple. Every day, mark off each action after it is completed. This acts as a positive reinforcer. Use this in combination with praise. Hopefully, your child will also feel proud of her consistency. For example, use a weekly calendar for a bedtime routine. You have three Start behaviors you want your son to learn. These are brushing his teeth, putting on his pajamas, and picking a bedtime story. When each behavior is completed, the child ticks it off on the chart. Then, you can use stickers to mark the accomplishment. This serves as a reward for them. It gives them satisfaction and pride to earn it. The goal of charting is to use it just until the Start behaviors become habits.


Your third job as a parent is to strengthen your relationship with your children. Strong relationships depend on communicating well. Your children are no exception. As a parent, you must learn to be a good sympathetic listener.Sympathetic listening is about listening to your child’s thoughts and feelings. You are trying to see how they think and feel about something. You are not trying to correct them. It is important not to judge what they say.Being a sympathetic listener involves three parts. These are: starting with openers, asking nonjudgmental questions, and reflecting feelings.First, starting with openers. These are brief comments or reactions. They are intended to get more information from your child.

For example, responses such as “Oh?”, “What?” and “Yeah” will work. The goal is to show that you are ready to listen. If your child comes to you upset, you can say, “Tell me what happened.”Second, asking nonjudgmental questions. These questions get to the heart of the matter. Avoid saying things like, “Why are you bugging me about this?” Instead, ask questions like “What was going through your mind at the time?” or “So what happened afterward?”Third, reflecting feelings. It is showing that you are trying to understand how your child feels. It lets the child know it’s okay to feel what they are feeling. It builds the child’s self-esteem.Lastly, it decreases negative emotions. It prevents those emotions from being expressed in bad ways. For example, the child will not have to resort to throwing things around out of anger.When is it appropriate to be a sympathetic listener? Generally, it is when your child is upset but not disrespecting you. However, if your child attacks you, use the 1-2-3 magic system.

Count their misbehavior.For example, your child is upset about not being able to find a t-shirt.He says, “Mom, you idiot! My t-shirt is in the laundry!” This is not the time to be sympathetic. His frustration is not proportionate to the problem. Count that attack as a 1.Here is another example. Your ten-year-old son has come home from piano lessons. He is angry.He comes into the kitchen and says, “My piano teacher is an idiot!” Clearly, he is upset about something. Your initial reaction may be to scold him for being rude. Instead, you choose to be a sympathetic listener.You ask him what happened today. His teacher made him sing in front of the whole class. He is upset because only he and one other student had to do it. He feels humiliated. He says all his friends laughed at him.

You decide to reflect his frustration by saying that he hasn’t been this upset in a while. You decide to ask for more information. You ask how the situation plays out when he had to sing. He explains the situation further. “I had to stand in front of the room while teacher played the piano. I didn’t even know the words! I could see my friends laughing at me in the back. “You realize that he felt embarrassed and cornered .You say, “So you felt it was unfair that only you had to do it and nobody else had to. “He agrees. He leaves to get a snack. At this point, he has relieved his frustration by talking to you. It also helped diffuse your child’s frustration. This is an example of sympathetic listening.


First, you learned about what can make disciplining difficult for parents. Parents should never assume that children are little adults. Children do not get calmed down by logic when they are frustrated. Second, you learned about the three parenting jobs. These are stopping bad behaviour, encouraging good behaviour, and strengthening your relationships. Counting, or the 1-2-3 magic system, is an effective strategy for stopping bad behaviour. Counting gives children time to think about their actions. It is what happens right before a time-out. Third, you learned about the three strategies for encouraging good behaviour. Bad behaviour can be stopped instantly. Good behaviour takes practice and consistency. That is why establishing routines are important for children.

Fourth, you learned about being a good listener. Sympathetic listening shows your child that you understand. It builds their self-esteem and their trust in you. This is very important for strengthening relationships with your kids. Parenting is a tough job. It has long hours and no pay. Being a parent lasts for a lifetime. But it can be very rewarding. It does not have to be frustrating. Applying the principles in this book can help you discipline, train, and bond with your children. The greatest reward for being a parent is seeing your children grow into happy, responsible, and loving adults.

Leave a Reply

Shopping cart


No products in the cart.

Continue Shopping