Counting Obnoxious Behavior

September 3, 2021
Mother with daughter on her shoulders

One of the things that can be so challenging is getting your kids to stop doing what we call “obnoxious behaviors” – things like whining, teasing, arguing, and more. The best way to get those behaviors to stop (without yelling and frustration) is to have a plan!


In this video Dr. Phelan discusses:

How to use counting to keep your cool AND stop bad behaviors
What counting tells your kids and why it works.

How Is Counting Different From Talking?
Counting is a sign or signal that communicates other information. To a child, "That's 1," for example, means:
 1. I'm doing something I shouldn't be doing
 2. I better figure out what it is
 3. I'd better stop it!

What So We Use Counting For?
Parents can use counting to respond to "obnoxious behavior" like whining, teasing, yelling, or arguing. Responding to these behaviors with a sign or signal--like counting--makes kids stop and THINK while nagging or lecturing can build up into yelling or frustration.

What Does Counting NOT Work For?
You don't want to use it to encourage positive behaviors, such as doing their homework, going to bed, or brushing their teeth. To encourage good behaviors, establish routines around these activities.


Hopefully this advice on parental anger is helpful! If you need more help with challenges like these 1-2-3 Magic is a great resource. We also have an on-demand seminar on Managing Difficult Behavior that you can watch and start using right away.

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