2018 Parenting Resolutions

2018 Parenting Resolutions

1-2-3 Magic Parenting—2018 Style

January is often a time when parents make New Year’s resolutions about things they’d like to do differently with their kids. Some moms and dads, for example, want to yell less or spend more time with the kids. Others would like to put an end to that awful whining or deal more effectively with daily homework hassles.

Many parents, however, forego New Year’s resolutions entirely. They may do this for a couple of reasons. First, they don’t think they can come up with workable strategies. Second, they’re afraid they won’t persist in using the new tactics.

Well, here at 1-2-3 Magic, we believe in simplicity and effectiveness, so in that spirit, may we suggest a plan that deals with both of the concerns just mentioned? We’ll suggest workable strategies that parents will persist in using because, if done from the right perspective, they will become self-reinforcing to both parents and children.

Here’s our basic theory. Child discipline efforts should have two basic goals: (1) to help kids get rid of their parents, and (2) to maintain a bond (mutual liking) or connection between parents and kids. Independence and bonding will also make child discipline efforts self-reinforcing. Let’s look at a couple of examples over on our blog.

Whining: What’s a workable strategy for whining? The answer is counting, which is described in 1-2-3 Magic. When you first start counting whining, two things may happen. Your counting may irritate the kids, and, in addition, the kids may often take you all the way to a count of three.

So far, no independence and no bonding, right? But keep the faith! What happens if you calmly persist in counting whining—over and over? Soon, the kids will stop whining at two, then they’ll stop at one, then they’ll stop altogether. Why? Because that testing tactic doesn’t get them anywhere! Now they are independently controlling their own behavior. Where’s the bonding? The mutual liking comes from the ability to enjoy their company (and vice versa) because they’re no longer whining. They’re actually cute and engaging!

Homework: You have a nine-year-old daughter who’s in fourth grade. Every school day sometime between 4:05 and 4:37 p.m., you call into the other room where she’s playing a video game, “Do you have any homework tonight? Better get started.” She is irritated, but she slowly, begrudgingly plods off to her bedroom.

No independence and no bonding again, right? Bad news all around. You see yourself as responsible for her homework. You’re both irritated with one another—every day. Now let’s say you look at 1-2-3 Magic’s Parenting Job #2, Encouraging Positive Behavior. You set up a daily homework routine that involves a fixed time, a daily chart, a five-point rating scale (neat, correct, thorough, no complaining, starting on your own), and artificial reinforcers to start (bribery).

Helping your daughter get rid of you in the homework arena also involves several difficult tasks for you. You are no longer allowed to remind her, you praise her for starting on her own, you gradually phase out the chart and the reinforcers, and, most difficult of all, you let your little girl explain to her teacher, when necessary, why her homework was not completed (natural consequences).

After a few months, what have you got? An independent kid! She starts and completes her homework on her own. Where’s the bonding? The bonding occurs because the two of you are no longer irritated with each other every day between 4:00 and 4:30 p.m. Mutual liking and respect are enhanced because you’re proud of her and she’s proud of herself. Wonderful.

Bonding and independence: two bottom lines you can use to evaluate the effectiveness of whatever discipline program you’re using. (Nagging, chattering, reminding, and yelling, by the way, are not discipline programs!). Want to learn

1-2-3 Magic? Takes about four to five hours. Don’t start until you’re ready, and make sure both spouses or partners are on board.

Don’t have four to five hours to learn a discipline program? Good luck to you. Don’t like 1-2-3 Magic? Look at Have a New Kid by Friday, The Difficult Child, or No-Drama Discipline. Can’t do it by yourself? Find a friendly school counselor or mental health professional to help. Or call Aunt Emma in Seattle. Do whatever it takes to bond with your kids and help them achieve independence.

Want a self-reinforcing New Year’s resolution for 2018? Help your kids get rid of you.

January 11, 2018
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