When it comes to why taking a non-emotional approach to discipline is best, Thomas Phelan, author of 1-2-3 Magic summed it up nicely during an interview I conducted with him. First, he said that the more you talk the more emotional that you get and the more you tend to confuse and fluster your child while they are trying to think clearly about your message. You get emotional, the child gets emotional and then no one thinks clearly. Second, some children enjoy getting a big bang out of their parents or caregivers – in a negative sense. This is a big problem for kids who enjoy rocking the boat. The more of a response they get, the more satisfaction they get, thus the more revenge they get. If they can get successful revenge, they will.
An example of 1-2-3 Magic in action can be seen when addressing a behavior a caregiver would like stopped. For example, say a child is back talking or yelling. With this approach, the caregiver would simply say “That’s one” and wait 5 seconds. If the behavior continues, she would say “That’s two” and wait another 5 seconds. If the behavior continues, she would say “That’s three, time-out” and the caregiver would not yell or get emotional, but implement the time-out or other consequence, like the loss of a privilege.
The cornerstone of the 1-2-3 Magic approach is “no talking, no emotion”. By refraining from nagging, yelling, rationalizing, persuading and long-winded lectures, you can effectively guide a child’s behavior with far less drama.