All parents face the challenges of guiding their children’s behaviors at each stage of development. Challenges spring up with each passing year as children evolve from saying “no” as their first and favorite word, throw temper tantrums, refuse to listen or obey, fail to do their homework, etc.
We here at 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers sympathize, because we’re parents too. Often, we turn to the advice of experts to give us direction and back up our opinions. One of our favorites is clinical psychologist Tom Phelan, PhD, who developed the 1-2-3 Magic! parenting guides through his books and videos.
One of the ways we over parent is talking too much, he explains. Constantly making comments to correct, caution or discipline children is counter-productive and actually makes children angry and more resistant. Examples might include:
- Intervening with corrective comments every time the child has a dispute during play
- Making constant cautioning comments when the child tries a new toy or new activity
- Giving long, wordy explanations when children disobey to try to win them over to your point of view
Instead of those actions, Dr. Phelan suggests using the “no talking, no emotion” approach. He suggests stating the desired action and counting slowing 1 – 2 – 3, and then without anger or explanation direct the child to time out. For older children, he advises the count and then imposing pre-agreed-upon options, such as time with no electronic devices, no dessert, or reduced time with friends. Whatever the case, his advice goes, don’t talk, don’t get angry, just follow through.
Of course, the 1-2-3 Magic technique is much more detailed, but you get the idea. In general, we believe more listening and less talking will go a long way toward maintaining harmony at home.