The Number Two Way To Discipline A Child

The number two way to discipline a child under the age of 7 (and older!)  is by having the child make restitution.  Not when everyone is upset, not when everyone is crying, not when everyone is angry.  That is when you need CONNECTION first (see this post regarding connection: )  But, after, everyone has calmed down, then you sit down and take up a paper and crayons and draw.  And when the child comes to see what you are doing you can quietly say (but NO GUILT! NO LECTURES! NO BOOK ABOUT THE INCIDENT!)  “I am drawing a picture for your sister because she was very sad earlier.”    Or quietly start to fix that toy and when the child comes you say, “Could you help me glue this part?  I am fixing this for your brother.”

I think this technique would work well for children that are about four or four and a half up.  For children younger than that, really they need the connection part most and as they grow older they will learn about restitution.  Of course, they can help hold an ice pack or watch you fix something though.

The point is, though, first SPACE….everyone needs to calm down.  I am against time-out for children, unless you want to take a time-out for yourself.  Nothing can be accomplished when everyone is yelling and screaming and you must be calm in  order to guide and to teach.  Then, connection.  Take that sobbing child on your lap, hold that child.  The boundary is NOT changing, the boundary is still there, but the connection is there.  The child is adapting to the boundary. (If the boundary keeps adapting to them, they are learning nothing).  Then later, when things are better, make the restitution.

Those are the keys you need for success and for guiding.  Our goal is to raise wonderful adults, not to punish a small child over an incident they will not remember years from now.  But over time, it will become engrained in them to approach conflict with a means to  provide space, to connect and to problem-solve.

Many blessings,


8 thoughts on “The Number Two Way To Discipline A Child

  1. haha, I showed this to my husband and he said “Man, that Carrie is too soft” LOL

    He then admited that he agreed with your core principles

    Don’t let him fool you though…he’s very gentle with my daughter.

  2. i’m working through the book “unconditional parenting” right now. what i find most difficult is the premise that children are inherently good. i was wondering your thoughts on this knowing you come from a christian perspective (as i do) that we are all born under the curse of sin. i am really struggling right now with my 31/2 yr old daughter. i feel like my gentle disciplining equals her having the control/power. and don’t feel like she respects me as her authority…but i don’t know…is that a bad word in gentle disciplining? i always feel a bit stunned, and paralyzed when she is disobeying or disrespecting and i have no authority or conditions in which to discipline her with. i love the “idea” of unconditional/gentle discipline, but truly feel like my daughter has an “i’m the boss, you do what i say” attitude with me since not disciplining traditionally. and what about boundaries or limits? what do you do when they cross the line? i’m just sturggeling to wrap my brain around this. thanks! ramona

  3. Pingback: Re-Claiming Authority: Part Two « The Parenting Passageway

  4. Carrie, I would love to see what you wrote to Ramona! I have also struggled with the book, Unconditional Parenting. I have been reading your blog daily for the last week, and I have developed tremendous respect for your point of view! I would really love to hear what you have to say about Kohn’s work.

    • C- It has been quite a long time since I have read Alfie Kohn; I respect his respect for the child but he doesn’t seem to view the child as in different developmental stages the way we do in Waldorf parenting. I also found that book, as I recall, rather short on real-life examples of how all of it would be put into practice.
      Guess I will have to go back and re-read it as it really has been awhile.
      Many blessings and thank you for reading,

  5. Pingback: Are You Ok? – Helping Kids Find Empathy and Compassion.

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