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1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12
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1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  5,116 Ratings  ·  727 Reviews
Addressing the task of disciplining children ages 2 through 12 without arguing, yelling, or spanking, this program offers easy-to- follow steps to immediately manage troublesome behaviour with reason, patience, and compassion.
Paperback, Third Edition, 224 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by Parentmagic, Inc. (first published 1995)
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Tanya W
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great parenting book (but I have to admit, I think I have now had my fill for a while on parenting books). I have heard references to this book several times over the years and I finally decided on my sister's recommendation to read it. Unfortunately, we get a few parenting book recommendations... haha.

I know if I apply this consistently, it will be positive all around. I have started, but I know I need to be more consistent AND get Eric on board.

So here are my notes for me or anyone else who fe
...more
Amanda
May 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
I didn't finish this book. I got fed up with it after reading the phrase, "1-2-3-Magic is not magic, it just seems like it!" five times in the first thirty pages. It was also peppered with sarcastic remarks that were probably meant to be cute and funny but just got on my nerves and were borderline offensive. ("What if you have children who always respond to words and reasons? You are certainly lucky! Recent research has indicated that there are three such children in this country. If you have on ...more
Kathryn
Aug 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
Awful book. Their method is all about eliminating "problem" behavior. And yes, I suppose the method is good at stopping a behavior you don't like once the child starts doing it. But the child only stops the behavior because they're threatened with a punishment and they don't want the punishment. Not because they're being taught the correct way to behave instead. The book doesn't at all address teaching the child to have their own self-discipline when an adult isn't around to monitor their behavi ...more
Bethany
Jun 30, 2008 rated it liked it
This book was recommended to me by a friend who has 10 children. It was helpful in understanding what to do when you as a parent get frustrated with your children. I especially liked the authors explanation on little-adult syndrome. Children are not naturally logical like adults and I make that mistake all the time with my five year-old becuase he talks to me like he's an adult sometimes. To make the counting discipline effective you have to use silence. I've found it effective and it certainly ...more
Erin
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was a skeptic. There is no "magic" in childrearing, and while I was desperate enough to seek discipline help, I wasn't expecting to find it. They've made a convert out of me! This book really works.

In a nutshell, stop talking so much when you discipline your kids! We are very guilty of this transgression. Our curious kid wants to know about everything and is firmly entrenched in the "why?" phase. So it was natural for us to also explain why you can't put your feet on the table/hit someone/whin
...more
Matt
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I picked up Phelan's 1-2-3 Magic after having it recommended by my son's paediatrician. I was not entirely sure what to expect, as many people have told me that parenting, even discipline, is not rocket science. Truth be told, it had become a daunting and somewhat overwhelming task for me and I thought that if anything could help, I'd give it a try. Phelan chooses to break the book (and the system) down into three digestible portions: dealing with obnoxious behaviour, creating and sticking with ...more
Kevin Kirkhoff
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: societal
How in the world do you begin to discipline a young child? When they get older, it's easy: no TV, no dessert, no play time with friends. But what about when all they do is run around and torment the place? Enter "1-2-3 Magic". It has a simple premise. Tell the child to stop doing something. If he doesn't stop, "that's one". Give him until three, with about five seconds in between one and two. On three, he's off to his room or isolated in a chair for a minute or two. When the timeout is complete, ...more
Shana
Apr 25, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: parenting
I knew this was going to be a terrible book. It was recommended to me by a terrible speech therapist who was a behavioral therapist wanna-be, and a bad one at that. Thankfully she got fired because apparently no one else liked her approach either, which was based on this book. I read the book though, because hey, I'm open minded. You wont see me say this often, but I lost some brain cells by reading that book. I would not be so unkind as to recommend this book to anyone. Now, usually I can take ...more
Matt
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book works because it is simple, straightforward, and hits at the heart of parents dilemma:

"I love my children, now if I could just like them as well."

I have 4 children under age 8. I get it. I love them, I just wish I spent more time playing games and chatting and really teaching and helping my kids rather than lecturing and scolding and correcting and reminding and stopping them all day.

- "But it's our duty to teach our kids responsibility, and to get along, and to be nice, and to play
...more
Jenette
Oct 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No One
So glad I didn't waste my money and purchase this book. Very grateful to libraries for this very reason. This book is a recommended read by our local Children's Hospital. I do not have discipline issues with my children, and for the most part, it is because I don't use this nonsense. I can see where this method would create some huge discpline problems where there wasn't any before, or even compound and make things worse if there is a discipline problem.

This technique only provides children the
...more
Tyler Hooper
Oct 16, 2012 rated it liked it
It is always hard to fully implement the parenting techniques given in any book, because your situation never seems to quite fit the mold. We have had some success using 1-2-3 magic, but there was certainly no "magic" to it. I am sure the author would accuse us of not following it as exact as we should, but trust me, you cannot always send your child to "take 5" or give them another equally as impacting discipline when you are supposed to. Further, our child tested this method (i.e., let us get ...more
Katherine
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a love/hate relationship with parenting books. I love the ideas in (most of) them but actually instigating the changes rarely happens. They also tend to be hard for me to get through because they go into such depths of explanations, etc, etc. I guess I have parenting ADD :(

Not the case with this super quick read "1-2-3 Magic". It is a quick read and, because they only focus on three things, it's a quick implement. I admit to being skeptical - I have always mocked the parents who count, "1
...more
Amanda
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Honestly, this book has a lot of sound advice and good ideas. I would highly recommend it for anyone who was having trouble with discipline in their home. The low rating comes mostly from three things: 1) I felt like a good chunk of the advice was pretty intuitive (maybe this just means I had GREAT parents myself, and so not much of the "method" here is revelatory to me, because it's what they did and so very similar to what I've naturally done); 2) I dislike the author's tone pretty frequently ...more
Elyse
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
I can't decide if this book had a poor philosophy or just isn't my parenting style, at all. I had seen quite a few people recommend this book over the years, and thought I'd give it a shot. Honestly, it was the most mundane, typical parenting advice. They spend the first 30 pages repetitively stating that you'll be saying "1-2-3 Magic!" after you read the book, you'll be so amazed. Then the climax is literally them telling you to count, put your kid in time out when you get to 3, and then don't ...more
Linn
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have not read a parenting book in about twelve years (not because I think I have it all figured out, because I'm too busy parenting). :) This book is awesomeness. I feel like I have really good kids (at least they work for me) and this took their goodness to a new level. Taking the emotion out of discipline is exactly what I needed. I want to be able to save all emotion for the good parts of parenting and skip on it for the frustrating parts. I truly believe that anyone who follows this idea, ...more
Clint
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Parents of kids, baby sitters, primary teachers, and grandparents even.
My wife used to always watch the show Super-Nanny trying get tips for raising our kids. I couldn't stand it. It was 1% information to that load of drama and crazy kids. Bleh.

This book on the other hand is Excellent. Its a short book that really gives you a framework to:

1) Stop your kids obnoxious behavior,
2) Get your kids to Start doing stuff (chores, getting ready for bed, etc.) and
3) Helping you set aside time to build healthy friendships with your kids.

My wife read the book and was so exc
...more
Paul Smolen
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The back cover of the book, 1,2,3 Magic asks, “Who’s in charge at your house?” If you can’t answer “You, the parent are” , then listen up as we review our latest read. I am sure that over the years you have read several books that describe the best way to discipline children. After several frustrating moments and graying hairs, you might have chosen to just pick and choose methods, trying to see what will finally have an effect. You and I know however, that the real issue is in the simplicity of ...more
Shannyboo
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
We've had this book sitting on our shelf for a while now, and when my daughter turned 2, I finally decided it was time to read it. I swear, she knew what was up, because when I started reading it, she started acting up. But when I finished the first section (Controlling Obnoxious Behavior), she calmed right back down. Maybe it was because I was implementing the technique?

The counting has worked pretty well for us. I rarely make it to 3, which makes me sound like a great parent, but in reality I
...more
Mary_Ann
Apr 16, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Offers some good guidance but view of children a bit brow-raising.

I appreciated the insights about the necessity of being calm and consistent (following through on what you have said) when it comes to setting standards and consequences for children.

However, I was a bit uncomfortable with the author's view of children. Perhaps the author is attempting levity in order to diffuse parental frustration, but for me, his portrayal of children made me squirm in my chair. In a nutshell, Phelan bases his
...more
Lynda
Aug 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book the first time when my oldest child was a few months short of two and it helped me gain peace of mind, lose my anger and gain patience, but other than that it didn't really help too much. He was still just too young.

Since then, my very energetic, loud and curious three and four year olds have started driving me crazy. It was a good time to revisit this book since we're living with my in-laws and they find my children to be intolerable.

It definitely helps remind me that kids are
...more
Bradley Ferguson
Oct 07, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a short simple book about the 1-2-3 method used to discipline children. My brother is a therapist and has recommended it to a lot of his clients. It is nothing very new or revolutionary but has ideas that sound reasonable to me. It covers the specifics of how to count to 1-2-3 and how it should contain no emotion, no concessions (2 and a half....2 and 3 quarters....etc.), and that once you put the kid in a time out place, you should have a timer that you set for the number of minutes eq ...more
Abby Lyn
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book provided some helpful advice for disciplining my two little ones, ages 4 and 2. Although we have always in our home used a straight-forward time out system, the common-sense and easy method this book focuses on, this book provided additional suggestions for tweaking the time outs to better suit our family. For example, if both kids are acting up simultaneously, we do 1-2-3 Separate and both kids are sent to opposite areas of the common room; and if the kids are teasing our (fortunately ...more
Amanda
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
I liked this book for some reasons and hated it for others. Like most self-help books, it implies that its strategy is the only way and if you try anything else you and your family are doomed. I can forgive that, i suppose.

I mostly wish it had more info for younger kids. It says it 's for ages 2-12 but most of the examples only applies to older kids. It needs a chapter devoted to the little guys! Of course, I wish it had a chapter just for me and the unique circumstances and challenges we experi
...more
Emily
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not my style of parenting. The book makes it out to seem that time-outs are an effective form of punishment for nearly any misbehavior, and discounts any kind of reasoning with children, saying they are not "little adults" and can't be expected to understand. Most of the book seems to ignore an empathetic approach to parenting, but then it tacks that on at the end in a short little chapter presumably so you can't say it doesn't embrace empathy at all. I think there is value in empathy, and in si ...more
Lisa
Feb 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Colton's pediatrician recommended this book to us at his 18-month check-up when I told her that I've yet to find a form of discipline that works for Colton. She told me that Colton is still young but to be consistent and to read this book. I'm so happy I did! It's a wonderful book that gives terrific advice. I think the book is geared more towards disciplining kids who are around 4 years old and older, but the author gives you a great foundation to lay with young kids. Joe and I are going to sta ...more
Tauna
Jun 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angela Bee Bee
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: zchildrens-books
stop obnoxious behavior by counting to three, then time out. no talking, no emotion.
brilliant.
get the discipline done quickly and effectively, using simple physical consequences, then move on and enjoy your child.
the alternative...spend all day in frustrating power struggles with your little obnoxious sneaky leprechauns working against your every move.

the talking and anger while giving a timeout distracts them from the lesson. the silence forces them to accept the result of their behavior. its o
...more
Lindi
Aug 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Whenever someone says to me, my kids don’t listen. I tell them about this book. It works wonders. If you are thinking “Lindi, your kids aren’t that good…” just remember that I am the imperfect parent. Not the other way around. I really believe that all kids are really good at the core and what to be good. It is how we teach them and how we deal with them on a daily basis that shapes their attitudes. So I guess like other parenting books, this has some great ideas.
Tzippy
Way too rigid for my style, and following the rules here to a T would be too stifling for the kind of family environment I have/want. That being said, it was a good read. There were some things in the book that I did agree with, and reading along going, "Yes, I agree with that," or "No, I don't agree with that" was helpful.
Milele
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not my style of book: a little too simplistic and inflexible in the approach suggested, no science or studies behind it. Finally, the book has useless pictures (usually a cartoon head) with captions that uselessly duplicate text that's already in the page. I can read a whole page myself just fine, thank-you-very-much.
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“It is critical to your family’s well being and to your kids’ self-esteem that you like (not just love) your youngsters. What does “like” mean? Here’s an example. It’s a Saturday and you’re home by yourself for a few hours—a rare occurrence! Everyone has gone out. You’re listening to some music and just puttering around. You hear a noise outside and look out to see a car pulling up in the driveway. One of your kids gets out and heads for the front door. How do you feel in your gut right at that moment? If it’s “Oh no, the fun’s over!” that may not be like. If it’s “Oh good, I’ve got some company!” that’s more like like. Liking your children and having a good relationship with them is important for lots of reasons. The most important reason, though, may be that it’s simply more fun. Kids are naturally cute and enjoyable a lot of the time, and you want to take advantage of that valuable quality. And they only grow up with you once.” 1 likes
“friendliness also mean being sensitive to the children’s feelings: sharing their joy over a new friend, comforting them when their ice cream falls on the ground, listening sympathetically when they’re” 0 likes
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