Monday, November 25, 2013

123 Magic

I mentioned last week that my oldest son has been challenging me on many fronts.  Specifically, he has been talking back like a teenager.  If I ask him to do something, he'll shoot back a saucy, "I don't have to do that!" or "No.  I'm busy."  I'm pretty sure I stand there dumbfounded for at least a few seconds before I lay down the law.  He's spent a fair amount of time in his room and we've had many conversations but I still have felt like I'm not getting through to him.  I brought it up in my women's Bible study and another mom recommended a book called, 123 Magic.  I never hesitated to read marketing books when I spent eight hours a day doing marketing; I certainly shouldn't hesitate to read a book to hone my parenting skills.  I downloaded it that night.

The book is an easy read and gives many many examples that hit close to home.  I've come to a tough realization.  I am the problem.  (Oh I hate not being the perfect parent, don't you!?)  I over explain, get overly emotional and expect them to respond like little adults.  I'm only halfway through, but I'm already able to implement some of the tools the author provides.  There are two sections: one focused on getting your children to stop bad behaviors (hitting, fighting, talking back, throwing food, etc.) and one focused on starting behaviors (get dressed, do your homework, clean up your room...You get the idea).  I've only read the Stop section and I'm seeing results.

My husband and I agreed on what types of things we want to stop and what things we should just let go.  Fighting, talking back (for my oldest) and temper tantrums (for my youngest) will be our top three priorities.  The procedure is simple.  Once the madness starts, we say "That's 1" and give them an opportunity to stop.  We wait five seconds then say "That's 2" and wait patiently for them to pull themselves together.  No change?  We go to three.  We'll say "That's three - Take 5" and send them to time-out.  When they get out of timeout, we don't explain unless it's a new infraction that deserves an explanation.  We sat them both down to explain the change in guard.  The both looked a bit nervous but we felt empowered.

This morning I mas making my coffee and heard a big THUMP that told me something was thrown down the stairs.  I felt the old me rising up.  I was irritated.  This happens all. the. time.  I went through my normal script in my head (Don't throw things down the stairs, you might break something, now you lost that toy, etc.)  and then I stopped.  "That's 1," I said.  I felt calm, collected and in control.  My youngest yelled down, "Okay!" and went on to more productive tasks.  

Later, my oldest decided to take a toy from his brother.  The screaming began and I said, "That's 1 for both of you."  They both stopped, looked at each other and then my oldest returned the toy.  I froze for a moment thinking that maybe this compliance was temporary but it wasn't.  They went back to playing nicely.  Maybe it is magic.

I encourage you today to look at the things in your life that are making you crazy and seek some advice.  Really seek it and hear it.  You just might learn some new tool that will make your life just a little bit easier.

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