The only people who think teaching or being a parent is an easy job are those that have never done either! These are two of the most important jobs in the world. Unfortunately, they can also be the easiest to make a mess of if we aren't careful. As a teacher of young children, I have found my job to be such a wonderful experience. There have also been times as I grew as a professional when my job also became so unbelievably frustrating when it came to learning good discipline techniques. I have been following a beautiful first year teacher Kristen's blog and her last post before her Spring break motivated me to write this post. She has so much enthusiasm and love for her students that I thought perhaps this post might help..

One of the hardest things a teacher or parent can face is controlling obnoxious behavior. Over the course of my career, I have learned that too much explaining or talking just breeds more misbehavior. I have also found that the more upset or angry I got, the more likely the child is to repeat the unacceptable behavior.

What I use is fairly simple. I learned this technique in a  teacher workshop. The workshop was based on the discipline techniques and the book by Dr. Phelan called 1-2-3 Magic. Thanks to Vicki at Frugal Mom Knows Best  for helping me remember! (I have taken so many in service workshops, it is hard to keep track of all of them.) When a child misbehaves, I start counting out loud saying the number 1 without any explanation or argument. If the child continues the inappropriate behavior, I say that's 2. My students know that when I get to 3, they go directly to time out. 

I am certain some of you parents out there are saying, but what if they won't stay in time out. I would suggest that you put them back in their room and extend the time out by five minutes. If you have to stand there and hold the door, then do so. Another option is to put one of those plastic covers over the handle so that the child is unable to open the door from the inside.  Don't argue back and once the time out is served, don't explain or discuss the misbehavior. Just go on enjoying the child acting appropriately! This procedure may seem too easy but I promise you it works. Eventually, I found that I got good control by the time I counted to 2 because the child knows I mean business. Consistency is the key along with no room for argument or emotion.  I found that it does not work if I lost my temper or showed emotion. When I talked too much, I found that I took the child's focus off of the need for good behavior. By trying to reason or talk with the child, I switched his or her focus onto the possibility of arguing with me!

Some of you teachers and parents are probably thinking "What about when we are out in public? "Whether you are a teacher on a field trip or a parent in a restaurant, there is always a public restroom or some out of the way spot that you can take the child to. Make him or her serve the time out once you have counted to 3. Whenever you get to 3, the child needs to know the consequence.What you will do is make the child think and take responsibility for their own behavior.


  1. Velvet Over Steel // March 13, 2010 at 3:01 PM  

    Great post! I bet you are an awesome teacher! My youngest son has Asperger Syndrome and it was a totally different experience with him than teaching his 2 older brothers. I learned a lot and thank God every day for the great teachers in his 5th school. They made all the difference. He graduated from high school with full credits last May and is attending a commnunity college now and excelling! Yea!!!
    Love your blog and following now!

  2. Janet Ruth // March 13, 2010 at 3:03 PM  

    Thanks for coming by my blog today and leaving a comment. You won a book on my blog earlier this week and I have not been able to reach you. Please check your hotmail email and reply with your mailing address if you still want the book.

  3. VKT // March 13, 2010 at 3:06 PM  


    I am so glad for your sweet son! I know you are proud!

  4. VKT // March 13, 2010 at 3:12 PM  

    Dear Janet,

    I will send an email to you today. Thanks for letting me know. I guess my hotmail account screened your mail out as sorry!

  5. Choices // March 13, 2010 at 3:13 PM  

    Wow! A very good post about dealing with the behaviors in the classroom. Wish I saw your post, my first year of teaching. Although, I knew how much I didn't know, so that summer before my second year of teaching, I went to a workshop on Classroom Management. That school year, I applied everything I learned and it worked like a charm. To this day, it still works.

  6. Debbie // March 13, 2010 at 3:17 PM  

    I concur here with your advise! I had the plastic thingy on our door, and I am laughing because my youngest would know how to do I wound up putting the lock on the outside of the door...I would show very little emotion, let him do his time, and that was that!~ They need to know who is in charge....and not only that, I found my kids like the discipline, they knew/know I care...and they have commented on other parents not doing the same. I have however, told them every household is different, and we do not judge what other parents do, we do what we feel is best for them!!~ I love your blog, and feel validation when I come wait to hit a subject that I have goofed on LOL!!~

  7. VKT // March 13, 2010 at 3:22 PM  

    So true Debbie. I can't tell you how often I see children starved for limits. Parents that don't set up parameters mean well but....!

    Too funny! You are a terrific Mom!

  8. VKT // March 13, 2010 at 4:05 PM  


    Why don't you blog about some classroom management techniques that work for you? I hope you have a terrific week-end sweet lady!

  9. Kristin // March 13, 2010 at 4:20 PM  

    I may try that counting because it does seem that the more frustrated I get with bad behavior the worse it gets. I just could not find a good way to control my frustration. I think one of my students would respond great to this technique.

    For everyone, one thing that I have found that works wonderfully is saying "timeout" to quieten a loud classroom. As soon as I say it the children stop and make the time out sign with their hands. I hardly ever have to repeat it, and my class is quiet and ready to learn!

  10. Theresa Milstein // March 13, 2010 at 4:30 PM  

    Your method is to the point, and I'm sure it's effective. There should be a Nanny 911/Supernanny for teachers. Most misbehavior is because a kid is looking for attention. Your way will nip that in the bud.

  11. VKT // March 13, 2010 at 4:49 PM  


    When you use it, be sure not to argue with the child at all. No discussion, no nothing. Just hold up your finger and say...that's one. If he or she argues...say that's two...then at three...remove him or her from the classroom to timeout. If he misbehaves, extend it. It will be hard at first not to respond, but I promise you it will work.

  12. VKT // March 13, 2010 at 4:50 PM  

    Hi Theresa,

    I hope you are having a good week-end. I am having a girl's night out with girlfriends tonight but I am going to get over to read your blog before I leave.

  13. Frugal Vicki // March 13, 2010 at 4:54 PM  

    This is what works best for us. First I tried reading love and logic, but it didn't work that well. They also describe your method in 1-2-3 magic. Sometimes it is hard to remember for, though. But he usually stops whatever it is by 2.

  14. VKT // March 13, 2010 at 4:57 PM  


    I think that is what the workshop was about actually! They do stop at 2, don't they! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Marla // March 13, 2010 at 6:03 PM  

    Really great advice~

  16. VKT // March 13, 2010 at 6:08 PM  

    Hi Marla,

    Glad you liked it!

  17. yonca // March 13, 2010 at 9:39 PM  

    1,2,3 method works for my son too:)Thanks for sharing!! Have a great weekend!

  18. Beth Chapman // March 13, 2010 at 10:15 PM  

    Consistency, calmness and especially enjoying the child's appropriate behavior works on my four legged kids as well. Also struck me that this is great advice for when I get out of kilter...pause, count and maybe just give myself a time out!

  19. Debbie(single;complicated) // March 13, 2010 at 10:28 PM  

    I am learning this with my older kids. The talking does not work,,they need to know there is consequence if they continue and it has to happen..I am working on that part!!!!:)

  20. Bernie // March 13, 2010 at 10:33 PM  

    Good advice for parents and teachers, you are a national treasure.......:-) Hugs

  21. VKT // March 13, 2010 at 11:53 PM  

    I can only imagine with older kids Debbie! I am glad I teach kindergarten

  22. VKT // March 13, 2010 at 11:53 PM  

    Ahhhhhhh are such a sweetheart!

  23. Anonymous // March 14, 2010 at 3:12 AM  

    I heard of 1-2-3 Magic about 3yrs ago and the only thing I can say is "Wow!"

    This method if enforced properly is really effective. After a few weeks they understood hardly ever got to 3.But if it did they went straight to the corner.

    We even use this in public I have no problem picking a corner for them to face if they are misbehaving and yes we do use the bathroom as a fav spot lol.I will turn my back and then we'll cont. after their min. are up.

    No regrets in using this method. I would recommend this video to any parent.

    btw/ Thank You so much for passing by earlier that is really sweet and thoughtful of you to want to pass on the game to my children if you were to win, I appreciate it.

    Much Luv =)

  24. Anonymous // March 14, 2010 at 9:04 AM  

    I am glad I stopped by your blog, very interesting post. I spent years working with children who were considered 'the worst of the worst', this label was given due to their behaviour and in no way related to the trauma they had previously experienced leading to this behaviour. These kids in essence were just kids, young people who needed nothing but time and care.

  25. Jamie // March 14, 2010 at 9:50 AM  

    some great advice. I'm wondering if you got my emails! I have then Lent Devotional for you but need to know where to send it. I sent two emails but it seems as though they haven't made it to you!!! help...

  26. Charlotte's Color Specialist // March 14, 2010 at 12:16 PM  

    You're job is so much more difficult then mine, picking color schemes for Charlotte. kudos to you! We need more people like you.

  27. VKT // March 15, 2010 at 9:50 AM  

    Dear Karen,

    It really is terrific isn't it. And you are right, it takes consistency and patience to make it effective.

    As for the game, keep watching and let me know if "we" I hope you do. My daughter is a junior in college so she would have no use for them.

  28. VKT // March 15, 2010 at 9:52 AM  

    Eternally Distracted,

    I am so glad that you had a good understanding of where the students were coming from. There are so many variables these days that affect a child's behavior! Thanks for your comment.

  29. VKT // March 15, 2010 at 9:53 AM  


    I am glad you have found it as helpful at home as I have in the classroom!

  30. VKT // March 15, 2010 at 9:55 AM  


    We all benefit from positive feedback can't we!

  31. VKT // March 15, 2010 at 10:07 AM  

    Dear Jamie,

    I don't think my hotmail account is working. I sent you another email. I hope you get it.

  32. VKT // March 15, 2010 at 10:08 AM  

    Thanks for the nice comment Color Specialist!

  33. Old Kitty // March 16, 2010 at 1:35 PM  


    I just had to come over after reading Theresa Milstein's post where she had to contend with obnoxious behaviour from whom I consider as babies still (well kindergarten age!).

    You teachers and parents do INCREDIBLE jobs and the techniques that you describe here looks like they work! I hope so anyway!

    Good luck you lovely teachers, I bow to your greatness because I could never, ever do what you have to do on a daily basis!

    Take care

  34. May Be Miracles // March 16, 2010 at 9:27 PM  

    Love this. I have 3 small children who mostly behave well, but do go to time out occasionally. I admit I am not consistant and this can come back to bite me sometime. Have to say that I go in for lunch duty on Tuesdays to my daughter's first grade class (in a private school)- today they were just out of control. I found myself not knowing what to do...especially with the boys!! I finally sat 3 boys in 3 seperate corners of the room just to keep them from steeling each others' shoes and jumping on top of each other! I know one was really sad that I picked on him, and the other 2 were a little mad at me...but I had to do something!! *Do not like to be the "mean mom" that comes in for lunch duty*! But it's not my classroom, so I feel that I can't serve the same consequences as the teacher does.
    Take care,

  35. Dustine // March 16, 2010 at 9:39 PM  

    By the way,
    I'm assuming you explain these "new rules" before implementing explain to your children that you're going to count to 3 and when you get to 3 they will have to go to time out? Or do you just start counting one day and when you get to 3 send them to time out and now they know?
    We were supernanny fans before we even started having children and she always suggested sitting with your child after the time out and discussing the behavior. Sometimes that step makes me want to bang my head on the staircase as my children aren't always completely sure why they are sitting there...I hate lecturing and trying to explain what they did exactly. I like this b/c you're stopping the action in its tracks before you even send them to time out.

  36. Anonymous // March 17, 2010 at 5:18 AM  

    I am going to definitley try this technique. It is simple and they will know you mean business! You have a wondeful blog with great information for parents as well. Thanks!!!

  37. Julie // March 20, 2010 at 8:23 AM  

    I am a mom, daycare mom and I teach preschool to my little ones. The 1,2,3 works wonderful even with my 18 month old. Time out works as long as it's used consistently and with not a mean word. I applauded you and your experiences and also thank you for sharing them.
    Take care and have a blessed, rejuvenating weekend.

  38. VKT // March 20, 2010 at 9:46 AM  

    Thanks for your comment Old Kitty. Teaching Kindergarten is such a wonderful job! I absolutely love it.

  39. VKT // March 20, 2010 at 9:50 AM  

    May Be Miracles,

    The next time you have lunch duty, try this. Talk to the entire group before it starts. Tell them that if it gets too loud, you will turn off the lights. If a child misbehaves, he or she will sit alone if you have to count to three using the method I mentioned. If they argue, say "That's two!" It will work. As for you not being the teacher, if you are assigned lunch duty, you are in charge.

  40. VKT // March 20, 2010 at 9:52 AM  

    Sorry Dustine,

    You definitely explain the process at first. Talk about how it will work and what the consequences are. Once that is accomplished, you enforce it. Blessings!

  41. VKT // March 20, 2010 at 9:53 AM  

    Thank you Angela. I have so much admiration for you as an artist. You truly are amazing at what you can create out of soap!

  42. VKT // March 20, 2010 at 9:54 AM  

    Thanks Julie! I hope you do the same.


  43. May Be Miracles // March 22, 2010 at 11:50 PM  

    Thanks VKT...I'll try it out tomorrow.

  44. VKT // March 23, 2010 at 7:29 PM  

    Let me know how it goes!

  45. Dustine // March 23, 2010 at 10:45 PM  

    Just checking in to let you know I used the 1-2-3 today, explaining up front what would happen. Lights already go out on "t.v. during lunch" days which was today. The 1-2-3 was basically good...became a game for 2 boys in particular - same ones that always leave their seats and like to be rambunctious - but they'd be in their seats before 3 each time.