Disclaimer: Discipline is a touchy subject and there will always be people who disagree with particular methodologies. What I say is not law; no one is requiring you to implement it, or even agree. In more than 10 years working with munchkins with behavioural needs (and kids without behavioural needs) I have picked up a trick or two, and all I plan to do is share what has worked for me. Proceed only if you so choose (and if you don’t agree, no problem—just move right along to the next blog post!).
As a children’s therapist and principal, I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with parents at their wits end over their child’s tantrums, or affinity for exclaiming “no” (or more creative adaptations).
I remember one particular conversation; the mother was beyond frustrated and admitted that often, she wasn’t sure how to manage her monkey’s spirited moments. I said “have you ever heard of the 3, 2, 1 method?!”
The “1, 2, 3 Method” and the “You Mean Business” tone
1. Make a request; “it’s time to sit down for lunch! Let’s go wash our hands! Share with your sister!”...you get the idea. 2. Let your little one process the request (this takes on average 3-5 seconds, but may take longer if your child is particularly engrossed in something, or if your child has any learning disabilities which impact his/her ability to process spoken instructions) 3. Here your child has two options; they either follow the instruction (YIPPEE!!! CELEBRATE) or they don’t.
If they do... ...pat yourself on the back. (And them too...I suppose :P) If they don’t....bring on the “3, 2, 1”... ...give a countdown, this gives them a second chance to meet the expectation and also shows them that you’re going to persist (often times that’s enough to get the job done).
When you do a countdown, remember the magic recipe for showing “you mean business”’; the recipe calls for a delivery that is gentle, but firm (you’re not angry, but you’re not joking around). You give the famous “3, 2, 1” (pause in between your numbers to give them a chance to spring into action). By the time you get to 1, they should be meeting the expectation!
If they are... ...HOORAY! Success!! The 3, 2, 1 wins again!!