Could You Dare NOT To Discipline?

When a child trusts that we’re really on her side, and she can manage her big emotions, then she’s willing to give up doing what she wants, to do something she wants more-which is to stay positively connected to us.

If you think about it, that’s the definition of self-discipline-giving up something you want (that piece of cake) for something you want more (your health and fitness). So every time your child chooses not to hit her sister, because what she wants more is your warm respect, she’s building the neural pathways to become more self-disciplined. And that self-discipline will last for the rest of her life.

If you’re still with me, you’re probably thinking “But children need limits!” I agree. Setting limits is part of guiding kids. It’s part of the child’s job description to test the limits, so they learn what’s allowed, where the boundaries are. Most parents need to set limits all day, every day. Limits that work are firm so the child can stop testing, but also empathic, so the child doesn’t feel she’s a bad person.

Setting limits does not mean discipline, as in “something unpleasant to teach a lesson.”

Are you thinking “But kids need punishment to learn!” Actually, if learning is the goal, then the child needs teaching. Learning shuts down when a human is under threat, and punishment is a threat to a child.

When you feel defensive, are you open to learning and growing? Limits are much more effective in developing your child’s self-discipline when they’re set with empathy, because the child doesn’t resist as much.

To change our thinking, we need to change our words, so let’s just agree to move beyond “discipline.” Instead, let’s guide our children with loving guidance, or empathic limits.

In the meantime, how would you answer our survey? If you knew that it would raise a happier, more cooperative, more self-disciplined child, could you dare not to discipline?

If your answer is “Sure, if you can help me set limits without threats!” you’re in luck. That’s our next post.

Find the original article here.

Dr. Laura Markham is the author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How To Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends For Life and Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. Find her online at



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