It's pretty effective with small children, providing you are consistent, calm, cool, collected (all of which I am not). I decided to modify this approach, as my children seem to be unfazed by time-outs these days. Instead, if I reach a 3, they lose all sugar for the day. Did I mention they were sugarholics?
I have only reached 3 once. However, I get to 2 many, many times throughout the day. You see, you can't catch them misbehaving at 9am, count it as a "1" and then see another problem behavior at 11am and count it as a "2." There is a grace period during which they can return to a zero (usually about 15 minutes).
They have had difficulty with this grace period. They have no issue when it applies to their own situation, but when grace is given to a sibling, oh, the injustice of it all!
Sometimes I will overhear them arguing in the living room when I am in the kitchen. Maddie will call, "Mommy! Parker just got a 2! Tell him he got a 2!" I have to remind them that I am the only Master Counter in this house [cue the malicious, power-hungry laughter]. I listen to Maddie's argument and then ask her to identify her own role in the problem. What did you do? Nuh-fing!
Oh, how this reminds me of my own condition! I keep coming across the same bible passage from Jesus' sermon on the mount:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."
At first, I assumed this wonderful passage was given to me as a teaching tool for the kids...I mean, it even says "brother," right? Then it hit me. It was for me. Uggghhh.
Just 2 Sundays ago, I was listening to a wonderful sermon and thinking so-and-so could really stand to hear this; I'll have to send her the link. Then it hit me again. Why don't you listen up and pay attention and see what God wants you to hear and change today?
It just keeps hitting me from all sides. Speaking of planks, I feel like I am under construction here. God uses a still, small voice for some, but then there are people like me, thick-headed, stubborn, hypocritical, and just plain critical. For me, he has to bang me in the head a few times before I really get it. Well, Lord, I think I have it...for today.