Media in Moderation
June 1, 2014 · Posted in Infant Development, Media, Parenting, Technology, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments (1)


Media and Children– From The American Academy Of Pediatrics


Media is everywhere. TV, Internet, computer and video games all vie for our children’s attention. Information on this page can help parents understand the impact media has in our children’s lives, while offering tips on managing time spent with various media. The AAP has recommendations for parents and pediatricians.

Today’s children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. To help kids make wise media choices, parents should monitor their media diet. Parents can make use of established ratings systems for shows, movies and games to avoid inappropriate content, such as violence, explicit sexual content or glorified tobacco and alcohol use.

Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.

By limiting screen time and offering educational media and non-electronic formats such as books, newspapers and board games, and watching television with their children, parents can help guide their children’s media experience. Putting questionable content into context and teaching kids about advertising contributes to their media literacy.

The AAP recommends that parents establish “screen-free” zones at home by making sure there are no televisions, computers or video games in children’s bedrooms, and by turning off the TV during dinner. Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content. It is important for kids to spend time on outdoor play, reading, hobbies, and using their imaginations in free play.

Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.


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Lessons From a Zen Mommy
September 29, 2011 · Posted in Buddhism/Parenting, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments Off on Lessons From a Zen Mommy

 Slowing down and taking a few deep breaths can change your relationship with your kids.

By Bethany Saltman

My husband, Thayer, and I are Zen Buddhists. Before we had our daughter we lived in a monastery in upstate New York. Life was simple there. We’d wake up every day before 4 a.m. in silence, and we’d spend the day working at our assigned jobs. Our meals were shared with 40 other people. One week every month was spent in a silent-meditation retreat. Now, years later, though we live just down the road, things are pretty different. We have a 3-year-old daughter, so while there are lots of early mornings, there isn’t much silence. But the Buddhist teachings seem more relevant than ever. The practice of simple awareness has helped me to be happier, kinder, and more relaxed. And I’ve realized you don’t need to have lived in a monastery or even be a Buddhist to apply the wisdom of Zen teachings to the ordinary mama-dramas we all face.

Zen Wisdom

Do what you’re doing while you’re doing it.

Mom translation: Stop multitasking!

An important teaching in Zen is that our entire life is happening right now. The past is over and the future hasn’t happened yet. Therefore, all we have is the present. Our do-it-now, do-it-fast lifestyle tricks us into thinking we can do everything at the same time and not miss out. Who hasn’t tried to talk to a friend while playing Candy Land with her child? For me it’s always a fail. Both friend and kid feel ignored, and I feel inadequate. Then there are good days, when I remember to make a choice and stick with it. If Azalea and I are reading, I resist taking a call until we’re finished. Doing what I’m doing while I’m doing it makes us all happier.

Leave no trace.

Mom translation: Take responsibility for yourself and your mess. And teach your child to do the same.

In Zen we’re taught that the state of our mind is reflected in the way we create our home. Scary, right? A scattered mind likely equals a messy environment—and vice versa. This isn’t meant as a judgment—if you like chaos, no problem. But who can thrive in a house filled with piles of laundry, disassembled toy parts, and peanut butter smeared on the couch? Of course it’s not healthy to get all wound up about trying to keep everything spotless, but learning to notice all the stuff we leave in our wake is a good practice for everyone. At the monastery there were signs posted reminding us to “leave no trace.” Obviously, when you’re living with lots of other people, every stray item adds up. But even though there are only three of us, teaching Azalea that simple message is a great way for her to learn awareness and responsibility. For example, when she wants to dump all the Goodnight Moon game pieces on the floor, that’s fine. Let’s play! Oops, you changed your mind? Okay, but first let’s put the game away. If we don’t, the pieces will get lost.

Take just the right amount.

Mom translation: Limit acquiring too much stuff.

The question I’ve been taught to ask myself is: Do I really require as much (food, money, things) as I may think I do in the moment? Because we have no storage space in our house, we all have to periodically comb through our clothes, books, and toys. I used to do this behind Azalea’s back and then shrug sheepishly when she would ask, “Mama, where are my yellow shoes?” Then I realized, in the same way we shop together we need to give things away as a mother-daughter team. Just last month, our friend was sponsoring a toy drive. Azalea and I came home and went through our stuff, putting it all in piles. “Look,” I said, “you have three of those. You only need one. Choose the one you want and let’s give the rest to kids who don’t have any.” Using this method Azalea chose to give away a set of blocks, several dress-up items, a pile of books, and some stuffed animals. When we went together to put them in the box, I made sure to tell her that someone else would be able to play with them.

Practice patience.

Mom translation: Don’t beat yourself up over things.

I’ve been a Buddhist for more than a decade and meditated for thousands of hours, but I’m still a novice. Being a Zen student is a good way to be reminded that the journey is the goal. And it’s the same with being a parent. Of course we all want to be perfect. And we want our kids to be perfect too—responsible, generous, polite, nice. However, it’s a life’s work to become a decent human being. Because our kids are constantly changing, we’re always total beginners. We all need time to learn, make mistakes, and start over. But we live in an impatient world, and many of us—women especially—tend to beat ourselves up when we feel like we’ve fallen short. So it’s important to model patience. In our house, when Azalea makes a big mistake—like biting me when she gets excited or throwing a plate in anger—as much as I might have the urge to punish her, she usually gets a chance to “try again.” We redo the scenario and allow her to get it right. (My husband and I do this with each other too, as in, “That was a horrible goodbye. Can we have a do-over?” It works wonders!) If Azalea is totally unwilling to get dressed or sit down for breakfast, instead of getting irritated I try to take a deep breath and say, “Okay, come in when you’re ready.” Sometimes it takes several minutes for her to cooperate; other times, it’s immediate. Occasionally I’m really impatient and blow it. Then I get to model how I apologize. Being a good kid or a good parent doesn’t happen overnight. We all need to be gentle with each other and ourselves, practicing patience. Again and again.


Home Practice for Zen Moms


In the morning, after getting dressed, Azalea and I sit on the floor and make a vow for the day. I usually say something like, “I vow to be gentle with myself and Azalea today,” or “I vow not to raise my voice,” and Azalea usually says something along the lines of, “I vow, Mommy.”


Realize how fortunate you are. In the midst of the eighth load of laundry that week, I try to bring to mind how wonderful it is that I can keep my child clean and comfortable. When the boredom of cooking noodles threatens to overwhelm me, I take a moment to really feel in my body how grateful I am that I have enough to feed her. Not every mother is so lucky.


Often. And deeply. Maybe you have to make a pact with yourself that every time you do something routine (flush the toilet, open the fridge door, change a diaper) you use it as a cue to remind yourself to take a slow, deep breath. There is no underestimating the power of truly allowing yourself to simply be a few times a day.

 This article appeared in the August 2011 edition of Parents Magazine. 

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A Mom’s Guide To Toilet Training
August 18, 2011 · Posted in Parenting, Toddlerhood, Toilet Training · Permalink · Comments Off on A Mom’s Guide To Toilet Training
A mother in an ongoing group here at Soho Parenting has culled a year’s worth of toilet training advice and her own experience and sent it out to fellow toilet training compatriots. It seemed like a good idea to post since it has such great tips-troubleshooting advice and the story of her daughter’s journey to underwear!
The gist of all this advice comes from Soho Parenting and you can read their posts on toilet training on their blog. First and foremost, I have to say that the anticipation of full-fledged potty-training was worse than actually doing it!  We didn’t take the all-or-nothing approach, which worked for us because it helped ease us into it.  The first thing we did was purchase little a potty chair, a potty seat, and a step-stool.  We did this BEFORE we started full-fledged potty training so Vivian could get used to them.  She played on them and sat on them when she felt like it but we didn’t push her.  We always asked her if she we wanted us to take her diaper off and she always said “NO,” until one day she said, “YES!”. We started the transition from diapers a few days later.
Anyhow, here’s the scoop.  We started on a Monday and Vivian spent the entire week naked from the waist down – but ONLY while we were at home.  When we went out, we visited the potty to check it out and get her comfortable for next time we were there in undies. The naked/diaper back-and-forth was not a big deal.  I just explained to her that we were now going to be naked at home and put a diaper on when we went out.

This first week was MESSY, but it helped Vivian really understand her body and the process.  She VERY quickly learned that when she started to pee, she needed to run to the potty.  At the beginning of the week, she would start to pee (yes, on the floor or carpet), then scream, “go
to potty!!”, hold the rest in, run to the potty (sometimes with a trail of pee behind her), and finish peeing on the potty.  By the end of the week, she was running to the potty just in time.

The second week was less messy.  We started underwear at home and wore it out to select places — on walks, to little gym, and on short errands.  We “tried” to pee before we left the house and i just told Vivian to tell me when she needed to pee.

By the end of the second week, she was wearing undies all the time. She has had 2 accidents (just pee) so far and they were both times that she was just having too much fun to stop and run to the potty.

Okay so now all about pooping.

The best thing about doing the naked/undies thing (no pull-ups) is that they don’t have the option of pooping anywhere but the toilet.  The first week Vivian popped once on the potty, once on the floor ON THE WAY to the potty (no joke), and somehow was able to time her other poops for after her nap when she was still in her crib and wearing a diaper. But by the second week, she was on the potty every time. The little potty was the best at the beginning because it was more comfortable for her, but now she prefers the big potty. We put a little box of books and magazines in the bathroom and she now LOVES the whole process. She loves to read her magazines and I try to sit on the floor in there with her when I can — she always does much better this way.  The more I tell her to relax and take her time, the better she does.  And I give her TONS of positive reinforcement during the process. Biggest advice here…patience, patience, patience. She
pooped in the trunk of our car in the travel potty after blueberry picking on thursday and I think it took her over 25 minutes to finish! it’s hard, but the more you can relax, the easier time they will have.
A few other things….we didn’t do any kind of rewards, just a lot of positive reinforcement. Some ongoing challenges that we’ve been having are wiping and washing hands. She likes to run away down the hall without doing either, but this really only happens when i’m not in the bathroom to remind her (and she IS 2 so of course she has to fight me on something!) I know some people are kind of grossed out by these little potties, but I have to say, I have found them REALLY helpful. Vivian can now go to the potty by herself — and while she can get up on the big potty by pulling up the step-stool and climbing up, the little potty has been great for when she’s in a rush and can just plop herself down.  the little potties are also great at the beginning forwhen they go #2 b/c it is really important that their feet be supported so they can relax. We also purchased a travel potty (coolgear travel potty – ) and it is AMAZING. I don’t know what I would do without it.  Now I just bring wet-ones and wipe the seat down if we are in a public toilet. I know every little kid is different, but this has all been very helpful for us!
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Emergency! Get the iPad
July 28, 2011 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Parenting, Technology, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments Off on Emergency! Get the iPad
With all the worry about the negative effects of “screen time”, finally a study that supports the use of the iPad for children. A recent post in Behavioral Medicine Report speaks of the positive effects of iPad use for children in hospital emergency rooms. These devices helped manage pain and fear in relation to medical procedures. “Whether a child comes to us with a broken arm, severe asthma or any medical emergency, we need to do all we can to eliminate the pain they are feeling and get them the care they need,” says Bernadette O’Brien, R.N., vice president of operations at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. “This program has been very successful, with positive feedback from parents and improvements in Press Ganey surveys of pain management.”

The anxiety that children experience in anticipation of a procedure can both worsen their hospital experience and make it more difficult to complete the procedure. We all know how engrossing an iPad can be–great to put it to good use to lessen trauma for children in a scary situation.

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Winter Conception Linked to Autism
May 24, 2011 · Posted in Autism, Parenting, Pregnancy, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments Off on Winter Conception Linked to Autism

A study in the journal, Epidemiology,  reports that babies conceived during winter had a significantly greater risk of autism.  The study examined the birth records of more than six million children born in California during the 1990s and early 2000s.

The risk of having a child with an autism spectrum disorder grew progressively throughout the fall and winter to early spring with children conceived in March having a 16 percent greater risk of later autism diagnoses, when compared with July conceptions.

The researchers said the finding suggests that environmental factors, for example, exposure to seasonal viruses like influenza, might play a role in the greater risk they found of children conceived during the winter having autism.

“The study finding was pronounced even after adjusting for factors such as maternal education, race/ethnicity, and the child’s year of conception,” said lead study author Ousseny Zerbo, a fifth-year doctoral student in the graduate group in epidemiology in the Department of Public Health Sciences in the UC Davis School of Medicine.

The study found that the overall risk of having a child with autism increased from month to month during the winter through the month of March. For the study, winter was considered the months of December, January and February. Each month was compared with July with an 8 percent higher incidence in December, increasing to 16 percent higher in March.

Earlier studies’ findings about autism risk and month of conception or birth have had varied results. Some, such as ones conducted in Israel, Sweden, and Denmark, have found an increased risk of autism for children born in March. Studies conducted in Canada, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom identified an increased risk of autism for children born in the spring. However, these studies were far smaller, most having a few hundred cases of autism, when compared with the large number in California.

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Part Time Work/Part Time Home
April 26, 2011 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Parenting, Toddlerhood, Work/Family Balance · Permalink · Comments Off on Part Time Work/Part Time Home

Imagine this: You work your job Monday through Thursday. Your husband works Tuesday through Friday. Your babysitter works Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings. Everyone has time at work and time at home with their children. Is this a dream? It is a dream in America, but in the Scandinavian countries it is a growing reality.  Pia Dijkstra, a member of Parliament in the Netherlands comments, “Our part-time experience has taught us that you can organize work in a rhythm other than nine-to-five. The next generation,” she added, is “turning our part-time culture from a weakness into a strength.”

Of course, nine to five in America is practically considered part-time. So we’ve got our work cut out for us. We can use the Netherlands as a role model. Parents report consistently that a mix of work time and home time are the most fulfilling. Children are getting the time they need with their parents and adults are getting both the satisfaction that comes from working and time with their children.

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Something Good
April 19, 2011 · Posted in Buddhism/Parenting, Parenting, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments Off on Something Good

by Bethany Saltman

Yesterday, Azalea and I met up with some of our friends for lunch at Mother Earth’s Storehouse. In the middle of their un-chicken nuggets, Little Friend #1 realized that the date would be over soon, that neither friend would be coming home with her, and she got so sad, so fast! Little eyes instantly filling up with big tears, face twisting into sorrow. Her mom, my friend, did her best to comfort her by pointing out the fact the date was happening, right now! But that didn’t do much to ease the agony of samsara for Little Friend #1. So her mom tried to lay down the law, and to stop her (very passionate) public display of affection. But what finally worked was the way her mom cleverly redirected her to what was happening right then, enlisting her help in matters at hand—the very wonderful business of buying cashews—and reminding her of the bag she could hold. More than a mere distraction, it brought Little Friend #1 back to reality.

The Buddha’s first noble truth is that our human life is one of suffering—samsara—of being uncomfortable. Never quite right. A subtle and pervasive feeling not unlike trying to get dressed during PMS: Forget it! The reason for this suffering is the Second Noble Truth: because we thirst for things, feeling-states, etc., attach to delusional plans about attaining them, and attempt to dodge the fact that e-ver-y-thing is impermanent. The good news is Truth #3: There is a way out of our incessant chasing by seeing through our attachments (see Truth #2). And the way to do this is outlined in the Fourth Noble Truth, which lays out the details of the Buddha Way: Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. In other words: how to practice everything.

Which is another way of saying: a perfectly good playdate destroyed by a fantasy that it could last forever, then healed by the realization that right now is good enough—in fact, all there is. Sometimes people ask, Can kids practice? I know there’s a rule against answering a question with a question, but please allow me to ask three: Are they suffering? Do they want that suffering to stop? Can they drop their ideas about the way things are supposed to be and return to real life? Clearly the last question is the trickiest one, and that’s where we and our perpetual bags of cashews come in handy. The lucky thing is that we—adult or child practitioners—don’t always need to see ourselves see through our attachments or understand what is happening. For kids especially, they just need to be supported enough to actually feel the (inevitable) transformation of their experience, again and again and again. Without obsessive fixing. That’s practice: a commitment to letting go of the agonizing self and easing into the luminous pool of things as they are. And it’s a long haul, so lucky is the kid who starts young.

Azalea, like her friend, doesn’t know she is practicing, but she is learning a thing or two about the coming and going of satisfaction. For instance, my girl wants stuff like nobody’s business. Say we’re in the car, and she might suggest, Let’s talk about what I want. If I am in a let’s-see-where-this-will-go mood, I’ll say, Okay. And then I will get a Kingston-trip-long discourse on the pros and cons of various American Girl dolls; Rock ‘n’ Roll Barbie vs. Race Car Driver Barbie; Playmobils vs. Polly Pockets. A true-hell realm of desire if you ask me. Most of these items she has seen on boxes or in random CVS stores or at friends’ houses (though Grandma Kathy does love to take her to the American Girl store). We do not shop at Toys “R” Us for fun, nor do we have a TV where she can see commercials. She just sniffs the stuff out and longs for it. Most of what she wants she doesn’t get. She knows that. She just wholeheartedly wants it—all of it.

One of the four bodhisattva vows is “Desires are inexhaustible; I vow to put an end to them.” While Azalea has not taken such a vow, I have (which may be hard for some who know me to believe!) and so I know how difficult it is to navigate this particular brand of suffering. I am sure T and I could be more Spartan and less drawn to things, which may well inspire less longing for Azalea. And watching her finally get the ponies she craved and then lose interest in a matter of hours hurts, not because she rejected something new, but because of that inherent disappointment I know all too well. It’s painful to see her looking outside of herself for that magical moment, that bubble she imagines existing in some enchanted land filled with unicorns and plain noodles and never-ending playdates. And it hurts to see her very personal dreams come up short, which they are bound to do. But it is also heartening to see her unearth those desires and that disappointment because that means she can practice them. Watching her move through her own mind, I realize just how much I have come to trust the force.

We all know this has been one long-ass winter. I, for one, have felt deeply challenged during this string of bitter cold and snow days to stay on top of my work, and mostly my attitude. But in a pinch, nobody delivers like Julie Andrews, and Azalea and I have been listening to The Sound of Music soundtrack over and over (which suits our shared obsessive nature). And I keep coming back to the lyrics from one of my favorite songs, “Something Good,” the duet between Maria and the Captain: “For here you are, standing there loving me / whether or not you should. / So somewhere in my youth or childhood / I must have done something good.” It’s true! Looking at Azalea, her sweet friends, and even her toys, I know I did one thing really, really right in my relative youth: When I encountered the dharma for the first time, I went for it. All of it, every ounce of unrequited longing, poured into practice, and If I hadn’t done that, I shudder to think what might have become of me.
Obviously we live in a crazy culture, a nightmare of dissociative overindulgence. But as Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us, “We do not have to look for something else,” not even—especially not—a way out.

This article first appeared in Chronogram Magazine on February 25, 2011.

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It’s A Thin Line Between Love and Hate: Siblings
March 17, 2011 · Posted in Parenting, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments Off on It’s A Thin Line Between Love and Hate: Siblings

Your three year old is hugging the new baby so sweetly, when all of a sudden the hug turns into a death grip. Your five year old is chasing his two year old sister laughing and – in a flash – he pushes her straight into the wall. Par for the course for siblings. You will never get to see the real life line between love and hate as well as when watching siblings together. The adoration, the jealousy, the intense interest and love, and the hatred as well.

While you need to set clear limits about hurting each other, it is important to help children understand that having a sibling is a lesson in ambivalence. It is actually a terrific way to talk about how we all can hold such opposing feelings about one person inside. Your children are not bad for feeling negative feelings, and are not better for feeling love. ALL these feelings between siblings are normal, expectable and need to be accepted. There is probably no better feeling than watching your children giggling together, or playing, or sticking up for one another. Although all parents hate to see their kids fighting, jealous and distant, it is both of these experiences that make us human.

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Starting to Set Limits
March 1, 2011 · Posted in Discipline, Infant Development, Parenting, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments Off on Starting to Set Limits

Responsive parenting is an ever-teetering balance between offering comfort and figuring out limits. Though limit setting is not the emphasis of parenting in the first year, it’s share of the pie increases over time. When your baby innocently pulls her father’s chest hairs or swipes at your face with sharp fingernails, or bites you while nursing, the very change in the tone of your voice when you say “Ouch!” conveys a message of displeasure. Then when you add “Gentle, gentle!” or “No, no!” this introduces the concept of limits. Here is some insight into setting limits that will help make the process smoother.

The belief that “no” is a bad word is one of the legacies of overly permissive parenting. Important behaviors including restraint, self-control, and caution are learned by hearing the word “no.” Children will learn to say “no,” and need to be able to say it, regardless of whether they hear it from their parents. In the latter half of the first year the word, “no,” followed by a brief explanation such as “hot!” or “ouch!” or “you have to be gentle” teaches your child about the world of objects and relationships. Language is just developing at this time but the word “no” is best used when coupled with an action to reinforce the lesson. So if your baby bites your nipple, or pulls the cat’s tail, say “no” and gently remove her from the situation, take her off the breast, or move her away from the cat. Then after you’ve said a clear “no” and moved the baby, give a more gentle explanation, like “no pulling, that hurts lulu’s tail,” or “no biting mommy, that hurts!” Over time your baby internalizes these everyday lessons.

All children go through difficult periods as they grow. All children will appear “spoiled” at some point. Stages when a child has difficulty waiting and sharing, when she is especially clingy, whiny, and demanding are all typical of normal child development. However, chronically demanding, objectionable, whiny behavior usually indicates either that a child has received far less attention than she needs or that she has never been stretched in her ability to wait, to use her own resources, or to soothe herself. For parents who felt restricted, misunderstood, and unfairly reprimanded as a child, it is common to offset their baby’s frustration and anger with understanding and permissiveness. Discipline and authority often become synonymous with the words punitive and mean. The key is to see that setting limits is important.

You can be a close, loving, devoted parent and a figure of authority at the same time. When used judiciously, saying “No” will not crush your child’s spirit. In fact, limits are critical for her sense of security and self-worth. Limits do not simply shut a door. They stretch a child, teach her about the world, and let her know she is protected. Limits also help a child to learn about self-control, respect and empathy for others. They are a necessary and important part of parenting.
When the time comes, many parents are deeply ambivalent about setting limits, especially with older children. More psychologically minded than their own parents, the current generation wants to be sensitive to their babies’ needs and feelings and nurturing to their children’s egos, but loving and limit setting are not mutually exclusive.


It can be frightening and upsetting to have your baby get angry or cry out because of something you impose or withhold. In fact, one of the most difficult challenges a parent faces is tolerating a child’s discomfort—be it illness, fatigue, pain, frustration, disappointment, or anger. It will not always be possible, or even advisable, to take away those feelings. It will be important, though, for you to let your child express them. Your baby’s consistent experience of your attempt to understand her needs is critically important to her sense of self and of relationships.

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The Magic of 1,2,3
January 25, 2011 · Posted in Parenting, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments Off on The Magic of 1,2,3

There are very few books that are essential to raising children. An exception to that is Dr. Thomas Phelin’s 1,2,3 Magic.  This book on discipline is one that parents read, use, re-read, share and rely on. The basic premise is that children are little beings who need to be taught without shame, but with clarity and repetition – how to behave. In our talk-focused culture, parents often use too much language to teach children what is, and is not, appropriate. 1,2,3 Magic uses the universality of counting to abbreviate long “Charlie Brown’s teacher” lectures into clear, understandable limits.

Let’s say your toddler throws a block at you. An age appropriate behavior, nothing to be worried or angry about, but one that needs correction. Here’s an example of a very natural but not very effective way to teach your your toddler not to throw at you.

A mother says, “Oh no, honey, that’s not nice, gentle, gentle. It hurts mommy when you hit her, it makes mommy sad, ” while she takes his hand and shows him how to stroke her face.  How  is a 20 month old supposed to pull the main idea out of this intervention? What is gentle? Why is mommy sad? Throwing, patting? Chances are your toddler will not really understand this form of discipline. With 1,2,3 Magic, you repeatedly “count” behaviors you want to stop. “That’s one” means pay attention, you are doing something that is not ok. “That’s two” translates to here’s your chance to stop yourself. “That’s three” means here comes your consequence.

Instant replay on the block throwing toddler using this discipline technique. So, if you say “one..” with a raised inflection, take the blocks away. If he swats at you again, you say “two” firmly, and if he gets another block and throws, pick him up firmly but without anger and say “that’s three” and bring him into his room, maybe even putting him into his crib for a minute. He will get upset, of course, but there is a clear connection between throwing and the consequence.

Those of you with older children will also recognize the toddler you become when you let them get away with too much and then get angry. “I can’t believe you thew that at me, how many times do I have to tell you not to do that. No one is going to want to play with you if you behave that way!” Counting also protects your child from the anger, frustration and inappropriate things you (like us all) do when stressed. With this script,  it helps you not commit character assassination on your child.

Time after time, parents are amazed when they really use the technique. Kids understand and appreciate the clarity and neutral affect as they learn how to navigate their impulses and how to control them.

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