Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Book Report

After my last parenting post regarding the trials we've experienced while raising our little angels (one little angel, in particular), I received many wonderful suggestions for books to read and digest. Thank you to many of you who reached out with kindness and support. I have taken your thoughts and comments to heart and have since been greatly encouraged on the homefront.

Of the book recommendations, I immediately acted on two of your suggestions. The first, You're A Better Parent Than You Think: A Guide to Common-Sense Parenting by Raymond N. Guarendi ("Dr. Ray") has been a great read and one I wish to review extensively in a future post. It has provided a serene backdrop for my soul and has assuaged many of the maternal fears of mine that were overgrown and had become exhausting. The second of the two books, 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph. D, is one I'd like to review for you all today. It has set our home up on a system of discipline that is calm, clear, and very easy to follow.

First things first, you need to understand that I'm a "by the book" type of gal. Give me a system and I'll put it into action to a T. I like someone to tell me what to do and then I improvise from there. Which leads me to today's book review. Our family had been implementing all sorts of strategies to curb poor behavior, but never with an overall clear picture of where we were headed. I had been searching for a book, a complete discipline system, to define where our family drew boundaries and how we handled consequences. Thanks to 1-2-3 Magic, I feel like we've found our correct path! Two weeks later, we are already greatly reaping the benefits.

Dr. Phelan begins by describing a few of the mistakes many parents make in their parenting--they usually talk too much, have too much emotion, and tend to treat their kids like grown adults. Kids don't need all that verbage! They need clear, concise direction. Calm parents create calm children. The more parents can keep their composure, the more in control they can remain. I found these first chapters to be extremely enlightening!

Phelan goes on to delineate two different types of behaviors in children and how to address each of them. There are STOP behaviors, or those that parents will want to bring to a halt (whining, hitting, crying, tantrums, etc.) And there are START behaviors, actions parents want to encourage (starting homework, cleaning a room, using manners, etc.) For STOP actions, Dr. Phelan outlines a clear 1-2-3 system of discipline, where the child gets "1", and "2" as warnings for various behaviors and "3" then lands them in a time-out area or time-out alternative. What I loved most about this directive was how EASY it was to carry out! It also works great on the road or in other venues, which Dr. Phelan clarifies in a subsequent chapter.

For START behaviors, Phelan offers a variety of techniques to encourage young ones, including natural consequences, motivation charts, kitchen timers, a docking system, etc. to help parents initiate certain behaviors. He ascertains this area is often the hardest to tackle and parents often have to use their creativity extensively to effectively motivate their children. After two weeks of implementing 1-2-3 Magic, I'll agree that its the Start behaviors that are toughest to encourage. We're working on it and I'm constantly revisiting my book for ideas!

Dr. Phelan goes on to address specific behavioral scenarios and how best to handle them. These practical sections really help to give the reader a direct view of how the system is appropriately implemented. These chapters addressed questions of mine and helped to bring the system all together.
Two weeks in, we're loving it! I can honestly say that I'm a calmer and happier mama. The effect? Calmer, happier children! Looking for some direction yourself? I highly recommend 1-2-3 Magic! Have a great weekend all!


Right Said Red said...

Great review B-mama! I agree that start behaviors are more difficult, but once you get them in place, life is oh so much easier!

AWOL Mommy said...

I know it is hard enough to find the time to read, but to be selfless enough to review it for all the other busy mothers is wonderful. I am motivated to be more consistent with my willful little 18 month old as a result of this post, and I totally see the importance of consistency from the beginning as we bring more little boys into line behind the insane one already running around. Thanks again.

bbullio said...

Thanks for the review B-Mama, My doctor recently recommended this book to me too, so I'm going to grab a copy and get going.

We've recently had a TON of success with "Parenting with Love and Logic" by Foster and Cline. While there are a few issues I disagreed with, I have found the tools it offers to be extremely helpful in motivating my spirited two year old. It offers a lot of suggestions in fostering responsibility by allowing natural consequences. If you haven't already, you might check it out.

Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us! Teach us patience and love.

Mary Alice said...

My mom used 123 Magic in her special needs classroom and she swears by it. I think that this, and Love and Logic are a great combo, because it is super hard to come up with "natural consequences" for some things. I use the time out as a natural consequence for any "anti-social" behavior (hitting, name calling) because I find that sometimes the kid really does need to cool off for a few minutes!

As for START behaviors, we have good luck with chore charts around here, and I also give time outs for lack of compliance in that area.

We also have great luck with using a timer -- let's see how fast we can get the toys put away, and I use a stop watch, and they love that, as well as knowing what comes next (for example, they love to watch Cyberchase at 5pm while I make dinner, so if I can remember to say, at 4:45, let's put all the laundry away and then watch cyberchase, they love that. I don't think that is a bribe, we work and then play as adults, too, right?).

No one system is perfect, but if you find one that suits your temperment it makes it easier to be consistent, and to get Dad up to speed so he can use the same rules when you are apart.

What I love most of all is the CONFIDENCE that I hear in your tone, a huge change from a few weeks ago, and that makes all the difference in parenting, I truly believe.

Your hard work here will really pay off. I find that I have very few obedience issues with my kids who are over than 6, of course there are moments of poor attitudes, tiredness, frustration, but generally they know that when we ask them to do something we expect them to do it cheerfully and more often than not they do.

The Babywise people (who are very strict) say that a highly obedient child under 5 gives first time obedience about 80% of the time, knowing this really helped me with perspective, you are not a failure if they are sitting in time out 1/5 of the time!

Kathy said...

When my now 9yo daughter was 2, someone recommended Parenting With Grace by Greg and Lisa Popcak.

I have three boys older than she and never thought I needed any help with them. But as my eldest was an emerging teenager and my daughter and I were at loggerheads (yes, at age 2!), I was desperate for some guidance. I had been raised in an authoritarian household and, as a Protestant prior to coming into the Catholic Church, followed the authoritarian parenting style of James Dobson.

This book transformed our family and I learned how to respect and understand my daughter, then guide her using "self-donative" parenting. We also entered the teenage years with our son with eagerness rather than fear and dread. He is now fine young man, the first graduate of our homeschool, ready to begin his sophomore year at Notre Dame.

Parenting With Grace is a wonderful Catholic parenting book. I'd recommend it for any Catholic parent's bookshelf.