Where Do I Start With Gentle Discipline?

Whew, several folks have asked this and this is such a big subject to even attempt to cover in one post, but I will try.  I think actually the first thing to start with is to give yourself permission to be learning, to be human, to be imperfect.  I find that when parents start to learn about gentle discipline, they feel as if they did everything wrong in the past and feel guilty.  Please don’t.  You were doing the best you could at the time with the information you had and that is where you were in your parenting journey. I congratulate you for making a commitment to move forward and toward parenting in a different way, perhaps in even  a more mindful way than before.

The second thing, I think, is to explore what gentle discipline brings up for you.  Does it bring forth fears that there will be no boundaries for your child?   Does it seem as if you have no tools to replace yelling at your child?  Does it seem like you chronically lose your temper with your child, and you aren’t sure how gentle discipline is going to help? I think these are things to explore and think about.

Third, look at how you view the small child.  If your view of the child is that the small child is a miniature adult, that they think and rationalize and intellectualize things the way you do, that all they need is information and to be treated by you the way you would want to be treated, then I would say you probably will be disappointed.  Not because children are “bad” or “defiant”, but because they are learning!  It takes a lot of effort and repetition to guide a child!  Yes, children need to be treated with dignity and respect and warmth and love; they deserve this and they will imitate what you do!  Actions speak louder than words!  However, a small child, to me at least, has a completely different consciousness than an adult and I think you need different tools to access this and guide this rather than just your voice.  How many times do you say the same thing to your child over and over and over?  Try something different, try movement and physically guiding and fantasy and play and humor and less words and you may be surprised at how well that works!

Fourth, how well do you know traditional developmental stages?  Each stage has different things that come to light from both traditional viewpoints and anthroposophic viewpoints.  If you know, in general, what the ages of disequilibium are and how that typically manifests, it really helps.  If you know realistically what age a child typically starts to dress themselves or pick  up their rooms, that helps.  I find realistic expectations are often  a strong key to controlling parental anger.  Are you creating a battle with your child in your mind over things that should not be battles? 

Fifth, it is not just about your child; it is about you.  Parenting will make you stretch and grow in so many ways; it is like a yoga pose you cannot move out of sometimes!    What kind of baggage are you carrying around from your own childhood and are you trying to check it into your child’s luggage?  How is anger and other negative emotions dealt with in your home?  How are you and your partner?  How is the rhythm of your home- is that a help or a hindrance in guiding your child?  How much outside time are you getting?  Is the tone of your home generally warm and calm or chaotic or cold?  How is your attitude?  Where is your own inner work?  Is your house a visually cluttered place with too many things?  Where is the beauty?

If you look on this blog, you just might find a few things to start you down a different path.

Hope that helps!

Many blessings,


14 thoughts on “Where Do I Start With Gentle Discipline?

  1. Hi Carrie- I have starting reading your blog this month and want to tell you how much my-self and friends are enjoying all the information you have here ( and the tone you use to present it).
    Aside from a new-to-homeschool mom, I am also a childcare provider and for the topic here often refer parents to Penelope Leach, your baby and child.
    She has a nice way of explaining (without judging), and gives a very clear view of learning to behave from the child’s perspective.
    Thank you for everything you are addressing here, can’t wait to hear you next week on the waldorf connection.
    peace and wellness,

    • Thank you Sherene! So nice to have you here!
      I have Penelope Leach in the past, but it has been awhile!
      Many blessings,

  2. Thank you!! Very well put and much needed today. We’ve had a long week with me and my son (25 mos) both sick and him being a morning child who normally starts the day by 6:30 a.m. and this week has switched to 5:00 a.m. sigh
    Thank you for clearing my head today.

  3. Hi Carrie!

    I absolutely LOVE your blog! It’s so informative! When will your book be coming out?

    Can you guide me to a good resource that describes traditional developmental stages and ages of disequilibrium?

    Thanks so much-

  4. Dear Carrie

    Since reading your blog I have been letting go of a lot of my own unrealistic expextations about what I should be managing in a day. There is only so much one can achieve with 2 under 3 year old in one day ;-)I find when I am rushed or trying to do everything our calm household is turned upside down. I have learned a lot this summer about the effect of outside time – I know you say it all the time. We have been outside in the garden, at the nature reserve or at the beach for at least 4-5 hours most days. And it makes such a huge difference.
    I also have to learn to take care of myself, get enough sleep, take some Vit. B complex, drink water. It seems small things but it actually helps me to stay balanced and focussed and then I find I can follow through with gentle disciple ideas more easily.
    Thanks for the post and the reminders.

  5. “Parenting will make you stretch and grow in so many ways; it is like a yoga pose you cannot move out of sometimes”…..- my yoga teacher used to tells us, “don’t worry, this pain is only temporary, it too shall pass”, guess that’s why i quit her class! ha ha. But you did hit the nail on the head!, particularly for a father who walks in from a long day at work, & i know the moms have many long days – (a few hours alone with the children on the weekend & i’m calling 911 for myself – LOL!), but for the dad it’s a mental transition sometimes of epic proportions – moving from “adult meetings” to family needs before you get to change hats from one role to the next….don’t get me wrong – I LOVE IT – but also want to become better at the transition so that i do respond “rightly” to my wife and children…the ones that deserve it the most!
    Any reading recommendations for “modern day” fathers?

  6. Pingback: So How Do I Live Peacefully With My Two-Year-Old? « The Parenting Passageway

  7. Oh Carrie, thank you so much for your diligence to continue encouraging and educating parents, especially moms! After a disasterous day in parenting my children, I laid in bed reading with my 10 year and old hiding my tears inside. I desperately wanted God to drop a chalkboard out of the heavens on how a sanguine mom nurtures a 10 yr old melancholy child!!! After praying, all I could think to do was get online and begin digging! I believe it was a divine connection when I found your blog :). It is now many hours later and I am so encouraged! I’ll admit a bit struggling with guilt, because I was doing EVERYTHING wrong, but encouraged!!! Again, THANK YOU. I’ve been so excited for summer break and having my kids home, but the last 2 days have had me in fear of how to properly NURTURE their wonderful, yet so vastly different, personalities! When of course, none of them seem to have mine! ha!
    God bless you abundantly for your stewardship of what He has poured into you!

    • Thank you Julie! I am so glad you have found something here of value and you feel encouraged. That is what this space is all about!
      Many blessings to you and your family!

  8. Wow – I just stumbled across your blog, and am already finding it incredibly helpful. I believe in a lot of what you say… treating children with respect, not spanking, etc. I ‘m finding it hard to get my child (22 months) to listen better, but hopefully your blog will be a big help along the way!

    • Hi Lisa,
      Thank you for coming here, and I hope you enjoy all the back posts. There is a lot on here about the one and two year old and discipine. A 22 month old is definitely in their body – so you have a lot of re-direction, distraction, moving them physically along with singing and verses, rhythm….they listen and react with their bodies, so this is a primary key for us in how we discipline a child of this age. If you throw two year old as a phrase into the search engine, a number of helpful posts should spring up for you.
      Many blessings and glad to have you here,

  9. Dear Carrie,

    Thank you for this post.
    Your line “it is not just about your child; it is about you” stands out for me.

    My little girl is just short of three – and I’ve come to realise parenting takes for granted your strengths and brutally exposes your weaknesses.
    I’ve had a lot of introspection these years – and lots of room for growing – into becoming the kind of person I want her to be (much more to come in the coming years – I’m sure)
    Your blog has made me more sensitive – to myself and to her.
    Thank you for that.

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