Discipline That Works!


Discipline is about guiding your child so they can grow up and be a wonderful adult.

Think for a moment about what you what your child to be like when they grow up. What qualities would you like them to have?


Now, erase that picture. It is not that that picture in your mind doesn’t count; absolutely it does.  You are the parent, you are the loving authority in your family.  It is just that children bring with them their own unique gifts, unique qualities.  They bring things you could never anticipate nor plan for.  They have as much to teach you and probably more than you have to teach them.  So, the impression of what you want to bring them will stay on the paper as it was erased, but something more important is being drawn over this…


That doesn’t mean that we throw up our hands at what our child brings to us, we don’t and cannot abdicate our responsibility in teaching and guiding,  but it does mean that we keep our respect for the child alive and well throughout the process.  It means we keep our sense of humor, and it means we keep our sense of love and warmth.  It especially means, I think and in my personal style of parenting, that we also look for BALANCE for our children and try to introduce balance to them – in their personalities and temperaments, in their passions and interests.  It also means we give them a solid foundation:  they can choose to steer their canoe a different way when they are older, but for right now, we help them along the rocky shoals by giving them the basics of our own family culture, our own spirituality, our own boundaries.


If you are feeling lost lately with being positive with your children and guiding your children well, take a deep breath.


Remind yourself that this is the heart of parenting, and that keeping yourself calm and ho-hum is the first step toward being able to connect with your child in the moment.  Guard what comes out of your mouth!  You cannot take those words back!


A child’s actions do have consequence, all of it does have import, and it does carry responsibility.  Make sure you are not hindering the possibility of your child learning how to be a responsible member of your family and of society by imposing inconsistent, unfair, unclear and emotionally-driven punishment as opposed to moments of consistent, fair, clear and calm direction.  Ho-hum.


Make sure your expectations are realistic. Know you are going to have to say the same thing 500 times, and that you will have to be physically by their side to make sure what needs to happen actually happens.  That is parenting. 


Parenting is loving and connecting, but it also having boundaries and teaching your child practical things to make life worth living.  I have found in observing my own children and many other children, yes, some behaviors children do grow “out of” but many things stick there until the parent takes charge and helps the child change the behavior.  Do not be afraid of this, this is part of parenting as well.


Be confident, clear and calm.  Be the authority and step up and be the parent.  Love your child enough to do this for him or her.



13 thoughts on “Discipline That Works!

  1. I see so many parents who have such high expectations of their children – it seems to get in the way of so much flow of love. This is such a difficult issue to address as we all come with our own baggage……seeing the child as a ‘wise being’ is a great starting point – it puts relationships into perspective in so many situations.

    • I am one if those parents who has ”such high expectations of their child” (in my case children). When my children were younger those high expectations helped groom them into the well-behaved, mature young men that they have become. However, I’m FINALLY learning now that my boys are 7 and 8 years old that they will not be perfect and that’s okay. I wish I had not wasted so much valuable, quality time ensuring that they did everything just right and that I had spent that time just loving on them instead. But I guess better late than never, right???

    • Monique – No guilt! Yes, have expectations, and work hard with your child to meet them. But do make sure the expectations are not over the top, that is the key! And love them!
      Much love to you,
      Carrie 🙂

  2. Part of the problem with having an image of what we want our children to be like as adults is that it takes away from an awareness that our children are complete as they are right now. Any stage of life isn’t unformed adulthood, although so often it is seen that way.

  3. I’m struggling with my 21 month old throwing and dumping (he uses a spoon to do this) food on the ground during dinner time. (It doesn’t help that we have carpet in our rented dining room and I feel a need to keep it clean.) I feel like part of the problem is that he snacks too close to dinner (within 60-90 min.) and is thus not very hungry when we sit down, but I don’t believe in refusing him food when he asks (I’m not talking 5-10 minutes until dinner is ready.) I’m working on offering healthier snacks (we do fruit and yogurt, I’m working on how to offer vegetables) and not stressing about dinner as much. He tends to snack again between dinner and bed. I know this behavior is age appropriate, but I still think it needs redirecting. I’m just not sure how. We’ve tried continuing dinner as if it isn’t happening – he continues to dump food on the floor. I’ve tried talking about food staying on the plate/tray – this doesn’t connect or matter to him so he doesn’t care enough to follow it. I’ve tried offering bites from our plate since it’s the same food – sometimes this redirects his attention. I’ve tried ending his dinner at that point and letting him down from the table – this ends the food dumping, but also prevents him from eating anymore dinner and the adults aren’t finished yet. Anyone have any suggestions? I feel like I’m doing pretty well with redirecting unwanted behaviors or involving him in my activity, but the food throwing is really getting to me.

  4. Thank you Carrie. Thank you so much for your selfless work here which I benefit from so much. Thank you, thank you, and thank you again!

  5. Guard what you say! Yesterday, in front of the kids, I said “Fu*## these kittens”, as I found yet another sloppy poo on the carpet from the foster kittens I’m looking after for the animal refuge 😦
    And today I told my 8 year old son “You are so stupid!” , as he goofed around and accidently blew out our dinnertime candle 😦 Its just SO hard sometimes to be a nice decent reasonable person.

  6. I have gotten deep, deep help freeing myself from reactivity by practicing formal lovingkindness meditation, and doing a gratitude list. I used to just do “lying down meditations” in bed first thing when I awoke, and last thing before I went to bed, but these days I sit on a cushion at each of these times. Whatever works. The gratitude list is something I do for myself, to remind myself of all of the things big and small that I have to be grateful for. I keep it to 10 things. A description of formal lovingkindness meditation may be found at http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/subnav/kindness.htm – I just searched the internet and this sounded like a reasonable description, I’m sure there are many; and I also make up phrases that work for me. I like about it that you start by wishing lovingkindness to YOURSELF (I do that several times!), then a benefactor, a neutral person, a difficult person, then to all beings (note, I don’t do all of the variations listed on the website, just the ones I list above). I love that, because once you incorporate sending lovingkindness to all of these people at least twice a day every day (and, each person represents all beings in that category, so for example you pick out one neutral person, but they represent all neutral persons), it just starts to shift your center of gravity into a more love-centered place. And if I have an unpleasant encounter with someone on a particular day, they become my “difficult person” in my next several meditations. As I said above, it has dramatically reduced my reactivity, and as I have become less reactive, my daughter’s reactivity has also dwindled. Her energy responds directly to my energy, be it positive or negative. Not to say she never spirals out any more, but when I don’t fuel the flames with my negative energy she just runs out of hers very quickly. And this is with a kid we used to see someone about for *her* behavior.

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