“Discipline Without Distress”: Ages 6-12

The title of this chapter is “Discipline Tools for School-aged Children 6-12:  Talk and action”.  I know many of you have been clamoring for information and ideas regarding guidance of the “older” child, so let’s see if this chapter can be of any help.  I am hoping to finish this book up this month, so in June we can start our NEW book, “Hold On To Your Kids:  Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers” by Neufeld and Mate here:  http://www.amazon.com/Hold-Your-Kids-Parents-Matter/dp/0375760288/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272674694&sr=1-1  This is a great book, and I think many of you will find it useful!

Back to “Discipline Without Distress.”  You can use the search engine to search for reviews of previous chapters.

First of all, the author starts this chapter with this quote, “There is a reason children don’t start their formal education until age six.  Their brains are not mature enough to handle formal learning. So why then do we expect children zero to five to instantly learn and behave from discipline, when we know they can’t remember four times five yet?”

The author remarks that the SCHOOL-AGED years are the right time to start to teach children right from wrong (which fits in with Steiner’s view that this could only begin to be awakened around age five).  These are the best years to teach and guide.

The author starts the chapter by reviewing typical school-aged behaviors and remarks that children this age “need to experiment with and explore social rules and roles.  They learn to argue, question and honor rules.  They also learn to test and negotiate rules.  What are they for?  How are they made?  What happens when rules are broken?  How different are other families’ rules?”  She has a long list of physical, psychosocial and cognitive milestones and then a list of unhelpful parenting behaviors and helpful parenting behaviors. 

Here are a few:

  • “Stay with your no’s, but your no’s should be getting further and farther in between as  your child makes choices and decisions on their own behalf.”   I would personally argue that this is for the child past the nine-year change and that six, seven and eight is still pretty little.
  • Ignore provocations.  She writes, “Refusing to participate in the power struggle doesn’t mean that you lose.  It means you are the adult and can think and remain calm enough to take a break from the emotional situation.”  Well-said, in my opinion!
  • She talks about asking reflective questions, and I really think this is a tool for those past the nine-year change, not before. In fact, this is probably even more appropriate for a child who is nearing the twelve-year change and has a stronger sense of logic and consequences, which even an eight year old doesn’t really have in full force yet.

The author gives a whole list of guidelines for family meetings.  I would love to hear from some of you who hold family meetings and whether or not you think this is a valuable tool for children who are above age 7 – please do leave a comment in the box!

Judy Arnall remarks that children need supervision at least until age 10. Please, please do keep that in mind!  It is important!  It is also very, very important to spend time with your child at this age and to connect with them!  She talks about using humor, walking away from “attitude” and teaching “calm-down” tools.    She also talks about the importance of  NOT over-scheduling this age group, and the importance of downtime.  She writes, “Children who are enrolled in nothing other than school have just as equal chance of success in life as an overscheduled child. Perhaps more, in that they have had much more downtime to reflect, dream, process information, and relax.”  I love this, and I think THIS is a true benefit of homeschooling, to be honest!

There are further sections on solving school problems, consequences, peer pressure and dealing with negative peer pressure, and handling bullies.

She also writes about the importance of modeling INTEGRITY for this age group.  This is right up my family’s alley, and is part of our Family Mission Statement (Kindness, Positive Attitude and Integrity!)..”Integrity is about doing the right thing when it’s not always convenient, cheap, or easy to do so, and even when no one is looking or there is no way to get caught.  It’s about whether one can face {oneself} in the mirror and feel good about {his or her} actions.  It’s about being honest and integral to the self-image of who they are.”   The author even throws in a simple quiz for you, the parent, to take regarding your “Integrity Quotient.”  See page 315!

Great food for thought in this chapter – two more chapters to go!

Many blessings,


4 thoughts on ““Discipline Without Distress”: Ages 6-12

  1. I have reserved my copy of HOLD ON TO YOUR KIDS and I am really excited to read it! Over the past few months we’ve had peer issues come up a few times and so I can see I really need to be gathering perspective here 🙂 I look very forward to reading along!

  2. I am having more trouble than any getting my 12 year old and 9 year old to listen to me, I try everything taken things away time-outs and getting their rooms cleaned I try to have them do chores.
    As being a single mom its getting harder and harder and I have two boys.
    Is there any suggests that you can give to help this stressed out mother?

    • Sabina,
      Lots of hugs. 9 and 12 year olds are going through tremendous developmental change, so that is tough right there. I suggest starting with the posts on this blog with those ages under the “Development” tab. The books I would suggest for this age include “How to Talk So Kids Will LIsten and LIsten So Kids Will Talk” by Mazler and Fabish, along with “Kids Are WOrth It” by Barbara Coloroso. I would hold a family meeting at a time when they are rested and willing to listen and talk frankly about your concerns and ask them for their own input as to how they can help your goals get accomplished and what should happen when things are not flying. I would make sure that outside activities and friends are not infringing upon and more important than what is going on in the home. If you have a spiritual advisor or a trusted family friend who is male I would also enlist their help in talking to the boys about growing up into men and being helpers. This is a big picture thing- communication skills or lack thereof will influence all their adult relationships, their ability to help or not will influence how they perform at work and how they have relationships within the home.
      IF you would like to give some more specific examples, I can tell you how I would handle it. The way I do it may not work for you, but you could take from it what resonates with you.

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