A simple `back to basics` discipline technique has been launched by a Gloucestershire
author, which promises to tame out-of-control children - in under a week.
Adopting it could, experts claim, help desperate parents transform unruly youngsters of
any age into obedient ``little angels``.
The approach relies on a non-violent three-step process known as the `Three Rs` -
request, repeat and reassure.
It is said to be significantly more effective than traditional forms of discipline such
as grounding and reducing pocket money.
Even the threat of the dreaded `naughty step` - until now, a parenting staple - fails to
work as well.
The `secret` technique is revealed for the first time in her new parenting `bible` Happy
Foster carer Cathy Glass, penned the handbook for parents and carers driven to "their
She says that by following the formula, mums, dads, step-parents, teachers and
child-minders could bring badly behaved children under control in seven days or less.
Mum-of-three Cathy - whose previous titles have topped the bestseller charts - said the
approach works for children with both mild and severe behavioural difficulties.
``The key to the Three Rs lies in its simplicity,`` she said. ``Until now, parents and
carers have had to rely on existing types of discipline that, quite simply, fail to work
``As a result, many adults begin raising their voices or using threatening language
themselves - usually as a drastic last resort.
``Happy Kids - and the Three Rs in particular - are groundbreaking in that they can help
manage children`s poor behaviour in a quick, easy and loving way.``
The Three Rs work on a simple three-stage process. The first, the `request`, is a verbal
instruction from adult to youngster. If this is ignored, the adult `repeats` the same
When this fails to work, the adult `reassures` the child that the instruction was
necessary by carrying out the command on his or her behalf.
A good example of seeing the Three Rs in practice can be found, Cathy says, at the
``Imagine that a mother and young child are standing at the checkout. To go through the
checkout, the mother needs her child to sit in a pushchair.
``Using the Three Rs, she would request the child to get in the pushchair and, if that is
not successful, repeat the request kindly but firmly.
``If the child still doesn`t comply, the mum would then reassure the child what will
happen next - by placing the child in the pushchair herself.``
According to Cathy, 50, the process can be applied to children of all ages - from
newborns and toddlers, to teenagers.
Her methods are based on a `back to basics` form of parenting, a model she perfected
during a foster career spanning almost 25 years.
She has cared for more than 50 children in that time, including several with challenging
Her previous titles - Damaged, Hidden, Cut and The Saddest Girl in the World - tell the
story of abused children in her care. All were bestsellers.
Cathy, who lives in Gloucestershire and writes under a pseudonym to protect the identity
of her subjects, wrote Happy Kids based on her own experience.
She said: ``Some of the children I`ve cared for misbehaved because of a tragic upbringing
- some had been forced into prostitution by their own parents, and others had been
physically or sexually abused.
``But what they all had in common was a need for firm boundaries - to be guided and
instructed in a way they hadn`t been before.
``It was about establishing a two-way relationship, where they could trust me and I could
come to rely on them to be well-behaved.``
The book also covers the psychology behind bad behaviour, controlling tantrums in public,
and dealing with sibling rivalry.
Cathy added: ``Rearing a child is the most important job in the world, but the only one
that comes without basic training and on-going monitoring.
``Writing Happy Kids is my answer. If there`s one thing I know from past experience, it`s
that a little positive instruction goes a long, long way.``
Educational psychologist Naomi Burgess, who runs her own practice in East Finchley,
London, said the Three Rs were a "welcome addition".
She said: "Bringing up children is complicated, difficult and exciting, but there are
techniques which parents can easily adopt to lead to better, happier relationships
between them and their children.
" Anything that helps parents in this process, such as the 3Rs principal, is therefore
Happy Kids: The Secret to Raising Well-Behaved, Contented Children, is out
now in paperback (HarperCollins), priced Â£7.99.