Disciplinary Technique: 1, 2, 3 Magic!

Every parent has their own techniques for discipline, but here is a humorous tale about the “magic” of counting to three that you may find useful.

Black, black and more black!  Black seemed to be the only colour choice for Fatima’s three and a half year old daughter, Jameela. Day after day, the little girl vigorously scribbled until her colouring book was covered with a thick, waxy build up of black crayon.  Fatima sat with her little girl, and offered other colours.  She even tried to colour with her, but her frustration only grew as did Jameela’s insistence to have her way.  In her heart, Fatima felt the distance between herself and Jameela growing.

“Oh Allah, what am I to do”, Fatima murmured.

In a panic, they visited their family doctor.  The doctor pointed out that this may be Jameela’s way of expressing her anger; she just wanted more attention.  Children can seek attention in negative ways. This would be challenging since Fatima also had a four month old, and an 18month old.  The nice doctor also recommended that Fatima attend a behavioral parenting course. She was fortunate enough to live in a large city that had many resources available, including family doctors specializing in children, local community centres with many child services and programs, and even an Early Years Learning Centre for preschoolers.  Al-Hamdulillah, the programs were free, so it was just a matter of finding the time and childcare.

Fatima had another conversation with her Creator, in her mind, as she often did.  “Oh Allah, help me, I don’t know what to do? Honestly, I can’t imagine leaving my children let alone finding someone who would care for them all,” Fatima cried.

That very day she experienced the true power of dua. She found a family member who happened to be on vacation and volunteered to stay with the children for all four classes.

Much to her surprise, the course was insightful and she learned a very handy technique called One, Two, Three Magic. Basically, when your child is disobedient or whining, parents can give a few warnings.  If the unacceptable behaviour continues, then start the counting; one, then two, and finally, three. Only if you reach “three”, is there a consequence.  For example, time outs could be used, a toy of value could be reprimanded for a period of time or even sending them to their room to think about their actions could be a consequence.  Some parents like to count to five instead of three, but you get the point.

It is important that your child understands that they did something wrong, but that making mistakes is part of growing up.  The goal of the technique is to never have to count past one or two, and Insha-Allah, eventually not having to count at all.  On a positive note, do remember to acknowledge their good behaviour too with a loving word, a compliment, or a warm hug.

The results were remarkable and very soon Fatima rarely got past counting to two. After this experience, Fatima learned that the “magic” was not only this disciplinary technique, but more importantly, the power of dua.

Shameeda Mohammed-Rasool

Shameeda Mohammed-Rasool is a Canadian mother of four children. She graduated with a degree in Toxicology and works full-time. She enjoys spending time discovering teenage life with her children and tackling the tarbiyah issues that come with parenthood.

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  • fatima

    I actually use this technique with my older daughter and find that it help me control my anger. I’d love to hear what other techniques parents are using.

  • Um Lubayah

    This reminds me of how Al-Khidr gave Prophet Musa three chances, and only then was there a consequence, in the story in Surat Al-Kahf.

    Jazaki Allahu khairan for sharing, Shameeda.

  • ummossama

    AA Shameeda,

    I like the 1,2,3 magic technique. In addition to techniques for discipline as parents we should keep in mind that discipline is really a “teaching” moment.

  • maha

    JAK Shameeda. I also rely on this technique a lot–like Fatima said, it is helpful for me to stay cool and in control in those situations that otherwise would drive you crazy.

    And subhanallah, you are so right about things coming together when you are in need. Allah swt always gives us a way out when we’ve exhausted all our oprtions.


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