“Discipline Without Distress” – The Last Chapter!

Well, we did it – we are now on the last chapter of “Discipline Without Distress” by Judy Arnall and ready to move on to our new book, “Hold On To Your Kids:  Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.  You can order it through Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Hold-Your-Kids-Parents-Matter/dp/0375760288/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279245565&sr=8-1

Let’s finish this book up!  This last chapter is entitled, “Technology Without Distress: Educate, Not Ban.”   Despite the title of this chapter, the author makes a great case for the fact that babies, toddlers, and school-aged children do best with hands-on learning and have no need for technology in the Early Years and Early Grades (see for yourself on  pages 368-371).

Judy Arnall writes in the beginning of the chapter about how we are currently in a generation gap due to technology.  She equates things such as instant messaging to book discussions thirty years ago, the internet to encyclopedias, books, microfiche thirty years ago.  She notes that “of all the electronic devices designed to make adult and children’s lives easier, computer and video games, as well as instant messaging and the internet, are the major concerns of disciplining and parenting.”

Her first topic to tackle is one of safety on the Internet and how to discuss this with children, how to talk about the fact that what one says in email and on the Internet is permanent (including photographs and video).  I think one could also add that the computer should be in a public place of the house, and that there should be ways to block certain content of the Internet.

In her section regarding “Games, Games, Games….What’s the Difference?” the author equates an adult getting a scrapbook kit or golf clubs and being told you can only scrapbook or  play for one hour on Saturdays.  She writes, “You are probably feeling disappointed, angry, and frustrated at the limitation, especially in spite of this whole new world opened to you.  This is probably how a child feels for the first time she experiences a computer or video game.”

I personally think this makes a great case for introducing technology later rather  than sooner.   I think that small children especially can have a rather “more”-ness about them with rather poor self-control as this is part and parcel of being a child.  Adults can be like this as well, but hopefully an adult can temper the “more” they want and look to themselves for happiness, for creativity.  I am not certain video games provide a helpful teaching tool for that, especially after all my research on boys and how boys can become easily “visually addicted”.  I will refer you to Don and Jeanne Elium’s “Raising A Son” for more regarding this. 

Judy Arnall cites the good things about gaming, including academic benefits, life skill benefits, and socialization benefits.  She talks about the need for moderation and considers if her teenagers are involved in other activities that it is all working out okay, and she advocates for a balanced life.

I personally feel most of the suggestions in this chapter, especially the section on gaming, was aimed more at teenagers (except for the pages 368-371 listed above) than smaller children.  However, one certainly is seeing a big push for computers and games for small children in pre-school and kindergarten and certainly in the elementary school years, at least here in the United States.

Judy Arnall admits she has a “pro-gaming” stance.  For the other side of this argument, I will direct you all to this post from the Alliance For Childhood:  http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/learning-more/articles-on-aspects-of-waldorf-education/fools-gold-a-look-at-children-and-computers.html

Please share with other mothers how you handle media (TV, computers and gaming) in your homes along with the ages of your children.  Help other mothers make informed decisions for their families.

And please do look for the first post in our next book study!

Many blessings,


Teenagers and “Discipline Without Distress”

Ah, we are down to the LAST two chapters in this book and then we will be ready to start “Hold On To Your Kids:  Why Parents Ned To Matter More Than Peers” by Neufeld and Mate.

This chapter is an interesting one from my perspective because I have a few things to add from  not just an attachment parenting perspective but also from  a Waldorf parenting perspective. 

The title of this chapter is “Discipline Tools for Teenagers 13-19: Negotiate”. (Which okay, I have to admit, when I first read the title, I sort of thought, yes, negotiate, but not just negotiate!  But let’s see what Judy Arnall says first).   The author starts the chapter by saying, “I believe most rebellion and power struggles among teenagers and their parents result from the lack of change of discipline techniques that should occur when children grow, particularly the use of non-punitive discipline from the time children are born….The problem occurs when parents use punishments and bribes liberally through the school-aged years, and then find out those methods aren’t working anymore with the children who are more resourceful and bigger than they.”    Agreed!

Another quote:  “…there are plenty of studies that also show teen rebellion, risk behavior, and crime are linked to harsh physical punishment and neglect.”  Agreed.  I have also seen this first-hand in my  work with children and families.

“Some anecdotal evidence comes from the home-schooling community.  It’s interesting to see the peer pressure that engulfs school teens is relegated to the sidelines in homeschooled teens. Family is still front and center in their lives.  I’ve noticed that influence and warmth of family togetherness is still a priority in some home-schooled families’ lives with teenagers.  …..Even in families whose children attend school, I’ve seen close parent-child relationships if the parenting style was nurturing and democratic.  It’s even more important in non-home schooling families due to increased peer pressure.”  Yes!  And this is another reason for the “Hold On To Your Kids” book study coming up!  Attachment can benefit all families, no matter what age the child!

The author talks about how much of the moodiness, sensitivity, etc of the teen years are due to hormones.  This, of course, not being that kind of book, does not take into account the four-fold human being (head back to this post if you need refreshing as to what the four-fold human being entails:https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/05/27/the-four-fold-human-being/    )  Yes, teenagers have hormones, but that only takes into account the PHYSICAL body.  We know that teenagers are in the midst of the  astral body – the seat of emotions, passion, antipathy and sympathy.  Even if you don’t believe in Steiner’s view, how about this idea that something else is developing besides just the  physical body’s progression toward different hormone levels?  The teenage years are about individuality, about discovering one’s identity, one’s likes and dislikes, where one fits.    It is a wild ride!

The author Judy Arnall lists the following parenting techniques that would be helpful for this stage:  listening,  making sure your teenagers knows no topic is off-limits, sharing fun, talking about your days together, being comfortable with disagreeing, offering your advice as an option and not the “ONLY” answer, using humor, telling them what they can do as opposed to what they cannot do, rehearsing strategies with them for situations that would involve risk-taking behavior.

She talks about the development of teenagers, that they do go in and out of the stages of childhood (and therefore are not completely mature), that we must  recognize that their body clock does want to stay up late and sleep late, and many more tips.  This list is on page 125.

She has a whole wonderful list of “living together issues” and “values collisions” and what to do.  There are things such as “Be prepared to seek community support and information should sexual activity, drug use, or other risk taking behaviors go beyond teen experimentation.” 

The next part is sections is negotiate your “no”, focus on the child’s strength, speak respectfully (and insist on being spoken to respectfully), offer a one-time consultation, reflective questions (and I would add NonViolent Communication can be a good tool for those 14 and up), keep communication lines open, reconsider the situation with new information, have a few clear rules, decide what you will do, take a parent time-out, separate the big issues from the small issues (and mentions figuring out the three things you will uphold  no matter what), reduce the reasons for rebellion, respect privacy, change the environment, stimulation, model behavior, decide on problem ownership (this reminds me of Barbara Coloroso’s book), connect and then direct, problem-solve, use I-statements, active listening, spend time together, don’t lecture over a casual question about a “hot”topic, encourage capability, contracts, welcome your teenager’s friends,  developing humor and acceptance, and holding, cuddling and hugs (still important!).

She remarks, “Teens still want  two critical elements of attachment theory:  freedom to explore and a secure base.”  “Teens still need and want  their parents very much but in different ways than in the past.”

She delves into handling “attitude” (both your child’s AND yours!), how to influence a behavioral change (which, always ironically, means to start with changing yourself), dating, driving, school problems, teen pranks, teen peer groups and then high-risk behavior:  sexual  behavior, drugs, suicide, crime, weapons possession, eating disorders.  One sobering statistic noted is that the “average age of first marijuana use in the US is age 14, and many teens abuse alcohol by age 12.”   Also, the US, the UK and Canada, suicide is one of the top three leading causes of death for 14 to 19- year -olds.   Another sobering fact.

The high-risk section was most interesting to me, and I would like to talk about it a bit more in my next post. 

We are almost through this book and I highly encourage you to read this book if you have not been reading along with us before now!

Would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter if you do have the book!

Many blessings,


“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,


“Discipline For Preschoolers 3-5 Years”: “Discipline Without Distress”

We have followed the anthroposophical book “Tapestries” on this blog, which is a look at the seven-year cycles through the adult life span, and we are slowly making our way through this book.  I want to finish this book up as I would like to move forward to our new book soon!  Stay tuned for a surprise announcement as to what that next book will be!

Judy Arnall kicks off this chapter by reminding us of the world of the preschooler.  Children this age: are  learning about reality versus fantasy (although I would argue that elements of that fantasy world hang on strongly until the nine-year change; how many six and seven year olds still believe in Santa; how many still have that innate ability to feel one with nature?  But I digress..);   are having experiences with the natural consequences of their behavior:are  becoming aware of power and are  learning about that by engaging in power struggles (please do NOT confuse this with willful manipulation or defiance!  If you need a primer on “defiance” in the under seven crowd please see this post to help you out: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/16/a-few-fast-words-regarding-defiance-in-children-under-the-age-of-6/ ); beginning to learn about socially acceptable behavior; beginning to learn about rules (Carrie’s note: the knowledge of right and wrong really begins at about age five and it is just beginning; your three and four year olds  still don’t have a great grasp on it all!); are engaging in fantasy play and may have imaginary friends and such; may lie as a result of wishful thinking and fantasy but NOT MALICE (remember, four year olds are Master Boasters and Exaggerators, not liars! :))

She runs through the developmental milestones for age three (here are posts on this blog about that: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/01/19/peaceful-life-with-a-three-year-old/   and this one: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/01/18/three-year-old-behavior-challenges/   and realistic expectations for a three year old here:  https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/28/realistic-expectations-day-number-ten-of-20-days-toward-being-a-more-mindful-mother/).  She mentions improved appetite, using a fork (although I know many a four year old who would rather eat with their hands :)), very, very active; may drop afternoon nap, can take off all clothes and put on simple clothes; imitates speech of others, can peddle a tricycle.  Judy mentions a three year old can play cooperatively with children. I disagree, unless there are other adults to model off of and hold that space  or older children about to help carry it all. There is a reason school used to start around age five!   She mentions children this age  are beginning to express feelings with words, that three year olds are egocentric in thought and action with some empathy beginning to develop, anxious to please, accepts self as an individual.  The author also writes that no logical reasoning is present, a child this age believes inanimate objects are real, and  that “mythical and magical explanations are readily accepted for natural phenomena”, attention span is about fifteen minutes. 

For the four and five year old milestones, she notes such things as proficient with fork, spoon and cup (and again, I know many four and five year olds who would be  very content to eat with their fingers :)); no naps but sleeps 12 hours at night; very active with skipping and hopping on one foot; can throw overhand, can ride a scooter or two wheeled bike with training wheels (and some can ride a bike without training wheels as well is my note); hates to lose games, beginning of sex identification; has beginning emotions tied to social interaction with others such as guilt, insecurity, envy, confidence, humility; begins to respect simple rules (Carrie’s note is that four is the height of many out of bounds behavior, see the defiance post!); tensional outlets can be high, very honest and blunt; don’t really understand cause and effect at all; asks many questions about everything; beginning to distinguish between edible and non-edible substances; sentences are three and four words long; memory is rote and must start from the beginning to remember items in their order such as numbers or song verses; often confuses sequences of events; attention span is about 20 minutes.  Judy Arnall writes, “Does not recognize limits.  Just beginning to learn them.”  “Learning self-control but takes much practice.”  For further information about the four year old, see here: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/08/discipline-for-the-four-year-old/  and for the five-year-old see here:https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/10/the-fabulous-five-year-old/    

She writes an UNHELPFUL parenting behavior is “Expecting more reason, understanding, and logic at this stage.  Not within the child’s capacity yet.”  Ways to parent helpfully for a child of this age include responding to questions simply, teaching and modeling appropriate behavior, talking about a limit (and I would add along with physical re-direction; words alone are not going to do it!); having predictable routines and rituals; nurturing child through touch, words, actions, feelings; parental self-care and all the helpful behaviors she listed in the babies and toddlers chapters.

THE MOST IMPORTANT DISCIPLINE TOOL FOR THIS AGE ( I would say outside of CONNECTION) is the ability to set a boundary and stay with that boundary.  You must honor your words, you must have thought things through ahead of time, and if you agree to do something, you must do it.  Judy does mention, “Again, at this age, use as few words as possible.”  (page 248). This backs up my view that we work with the BODIES of small children.    The author advocates choices; I would say many children do not do well with choices at this age and become frustrated as they pick something and then want the other thing, etc.  Please do think about what works for your child.  “Tell your children exactly what specific descriptive behavior you expect.”  I would add, SHOW THEM, do it WITH them.  This is important.  Judy Arnall advocates asking reflective questions; I think less questions for this age group actually.  The author talks about how changing the environment, so effective for younger ages, still works wonders for this age group.  Other helpful tools mentioned include parental time-outs, being polite and firm and kind, picking your battles and giving positive feedback.  There are other tools the author mentions, but I picked those out to highlight. 

Modeling is very important!  Judy Arnall writes, “Watch especially how you treat other people, from your partner all the way to the grocery clerk who gave you the wrong change.  Your children are picking up tone of voice, words, actions, and reactions, and they will copy them.”  “Modeling is such a powerful force, that it’s included as a tool in all age categories.  In fact, if all parents did was model correct behavior and didn’t correct their child on any negative behavior, children would be keen to learn how to behave properly in society, based on how the adults act.” Love this!

There is so much more in this chapter, including a checklist of natural consequences, a discussion regarding preschoolers and self-control, power struggles, how to nurture your child’s creativity, stages of play and how friendship evolves, timeless toys for all age groups, strategies to prepare your child for the arrival of a new baby, remedies for sibling rivalry, how to resolve issues without resentment, manners, chores or allowances or both?,  building a healthy self-esteem.

This is a great chapter, pick what resonates with you.  Parent with COURAGE!  You can do this!  https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/05/parenting-with-courage/

Moving along to the six to twelve year old!

Many blessings,


“Discipline Without Distress”: Discipline Tools for Toddlers 1-2 Years: Action

Judy Arnall starts this chapter with this observation that I  see all the time, “Parents believe if they don’t nip many behaviors in the bud at this stage, the behaviors will grow and become monstrous later on and their children will be destined to become criminals because they were too lenient when they were toddlers.  NOT TRUE!”

The toddler stage does not involve reasoning.  There is no reasoning yet.  Toddlers are just realizing they can’t always get what they want, and this leads to temper tantrums.  Your toddler is “doing” and the best you can do as a parent is to childproof, supervise, redirect, distract, provide substitutions, pick up your toddler and move them around with your gentle hands away from danger or situations that they shouldn’t be into. 

Toddlers can sometimes follow two word commands.  On this blog, I write from a traditional perspective and also a Waldorf perspective.  The Waldorf perspective on this would be to engage the child’s body and not expect a tiny child to follow a verbal command only.  You cannot parent a toddler from the couch. 🙂  GET UP!

A toddler is going to express negativity. “ No”  has power, “no”  has meaning.  Toddlers often use their body to express their negativity – hitting, biting, pushing – because their words are not totally there yet.  Even the ones that are “verbally” advanced lose their words when they become upset!  They want to be independent (the “me do it” stage), but still need help.  They don’t play with other children yet, they have fears of things such as thunder or animals or vacuum cleaners.  Their thinking really is “this is here, this is now” without much  memory involved.  They do, however,  IMITATE what YOU do!

Saying no frequently is not helpful in guiding your child – tell them what you would like to see, and better yet, SHOW THEM.   Childproof your environment so you don’t have to say NO fifty times a day.  Also, Judy Arnall points out that “parents have no control over eating, sleeping, toileting, and learning.  The parent can facilitate those processes, but not force them.”  This is something important for a parent to come to grips with.

She lists a page of discipline tools for toddlers including staying with your no, changing the environment, planning ahead, having routines, holding and carrying and restraining the child as needed, giving encouragement, ignoring some things if you can, time-in (see my take on “Time In for Tinies” here: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/12/more-about-time-in-for-tinies/  ), saying no another way, letting the child have their feelings (my note is that you can’t “fix” how another person feels!  Let them have their feelings!), supervision, parent time-outs, modeling, redirection, holding, hugs and many more tips. 

The author recommends anticipating problems ahead of time and planning ahead.  She also says “avoid play places if you know they get frustrated and hit other children.”  Provide toys whilst changing a diaper or change the diaper standing up or in front of a mirror.  She talks extensively about the fact that toddlers love routines, and also gives examples of some “routines” that small children can do – for example, hanging towels after taking a bath, putting clothes in the basket, everyone carrying their things in from the car.  Essentially, you are laying down the house rules and chores that will become embedded in the existence of a three and four year old.  A three and four year old really knows and understands how things work in your house!

Judy Arnall has sections in this chapter regarding toilet learning, handling emotion, toddler sleep problems, why toddlers don’t understand rules, separation anxiety and how to deal with it, picky eating, toddler aggression and tips for handling this….Another great chapter!

This book deserves a home on your shelf!  Check out Amazon for a copy!

Many blessings,


“Discipline Without Distress”: Tools for Discipline of Infants

Yes, we are still going through this book!  I am looking forward to getting through to the end of it, though, because I have another book I really want to delve into on this blog (a surprise! :))

Today’s chapter is Chapter 7:  Discipline Tools for Baby 0-1 Years:  Attachment.  It seems difficult to some of us that we need to even discuss “discipline” of this first year of life, but since a 1994 Canadian study showed that 19 percent of US mothers spanked their children under one year of age, I guess that we must address this.  There is also an attitude, at least here in the United States, that an older  baby could be “manipulating” a mother by his or her behavior  (this one baffles me, but I hear it a lot in mainstream parenting circles, so I thought I would throw it out there!).

Author Judy Arnall writes:  “We discuss discipline tools with a baby for two reasons.  First, the baby year is a time for bonding, attachment and relationship connection; a solid concrete foundation that effective discipline is built upon.  Also, the literal interpretation of the word “discipline” means to teach.  We “teach” babies from the moment they are born, by our responsiveness and nurturing, that they are loved and cared for.” 

An older baby is  mobile and yes, often  “getting into things”.  They are gross motor driven.  They cry and fuss to make their needs known.  They may cry and you may not be able to uncover the reason at all.  They sleep, they make a lot of noise (screeching, gurgling, cooing, babbling, repetitive syllables).  They look at things, they explore things and put things in their mouth to taste them and explore them.  They also  IMITATE YOU.

Judy Arnall also reminds us of the stranger anxiety many babies experience at around eight months (usually 8 to 15 months or so).  Do not expect your baby to be happy to go to and with just anyone!  Ten months is the beginning of separation anxiety and they do not want to leave their main caregiver.  Separation anxiety can last throughout the early years, the baby has an intense need for his or her mother throughout those years.  If you meet his needs to be dependent upon you, he will feel much more secure!

The best discipline tools for a baby are BEING RESPONSIVE when a baby cries, to hold, sing, speak, love your baby with gentle words and gentle hands.  Author Judy Arnall lists the discipline tools for babies as being PARENT time-out, fulfill the baby’s needs, learn about child development, substitution,  supervision, prevention, redirection, change environment, distraction, spending time together, parenting problem-solving, holding, hugs and cuddles.  She also adds using active listening and I-statements.  I guess these tools could sound very radical to a parent who has never heard of them or knows no other ways.  Sometimes these things don’t actually come naturally to parents.  This chapter gives great examples of each of these things.

One thing the author reminds us is that up until age TEN, children need constant supervision by an adult who is engaged with them.  She also writes about the importance of prevention:   if your child is doing something due to a developmental phase, have a plan as to how you will respond to it in the future.  She talks about saying positive things to your baby, such as “I love you!” “I am so glad you are mine!”  I like that idea of that warmth and  joy and love!  So, stop complaining and replace those complaints with positive thinking and positive things to say to your child!

She writes an entire section on sleep issues and how a one-year-old has a very limited memory and almost no cognitive reasoning skills so therefore a baby cannot “manipulate” you regarding sleep.  She writes about the dangers of “crying it out” which I whole heartedly agree with.  She also writes strongly about how the first three years of a child’s life as critical for developing trust in an adult caregiver, and how it is important to respond to your child.  This is important, even at night!  Parenting does not stop at nighttime!

She asks readers to “reconsider co-sleeping” and talks about how to make a safer family bed.  I completely endorse co-sleeping if that works for your family and have written a post about it here a long time ago:  https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/03/16/co-sleeping-and-nighttime-parenting/ .  The Dr. Sears books also talk in depth about co-sleeping.  Co-sleeping does not always mean sharing a sleep surface.  For example,  it can also mean a sidecar approach with a crib or co-sleeper, or putting your king sized mattress on the floor so no one can roll off or having a bed in your room for your children.   There are many tips for safer co-sleeping on the Mothering Magazine website, Dr. Sears website (here is just one example of talking about safer cosleeping on the Sears Family website:  http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/t102200.asp)  and in many books.  Check it out and devise a plan that works for your baby and for your family.   

This chapter talks about many ways to soothe a crying baby – go through your mini-checklist:  illness, food, diaper, gas, clothing tags, too hot/too cold, is the baby just waking up and really needs to go back to sleep?, try motion, try white noise, try babywearing, swaddling, rocking, humming, check and see if baby is overstimulated and really just needs a dim, quiet place to calm down. 

She talks about colic, about parents taking a time out, about parental actions that build a child’s sense of security.  She has a whole section on marriage and  how having a baby affects marriage and tips for that season in marriage. 

I recommend this book over and over, and over.  Here is the Amazon link:  http://www.amazon.com/Discipline-Without-Distress-responsible-punishment/dp/0978050908/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269482616&sr=8-1

Much love,


“Discipline Without Distress: Chapter 6: Your Child Is Unique: All the factors that affect discipline”

We are still plugging away through this book, do see the back posts on each chapter.  Amazon has this book for sale here:  http://www.amazon.com/Discipline-Without-Distress-responsible-punishment/dp/0978050908/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264905764&sr=8-1

Today we are looking at the chapter that talks about the influences on discipline from  your child.

First up is the idea of developmental milestones and stages.  For those of you who regularly follow this blog, you know I am big into this.  Characteristics of ages three to nine are now on this blog, you can use the search engine to look up ages.  I am working on posts for the one-month-old through age two and a half as we speak, so eventually every age from birth until the nine-year-change will be represented on here and I hope that will really help many, many parents. 

Judy Arnall points out that once children reach a new stage, they can regress backward to a previous stage until they move forward again.  Parents can often view this as “misbehavior” or that the child is “just doing this to annoy me; they know better” when in reality they are getting used to this new stage and learning. 

The author addressed temperament, and how the intensity of temperament is what often counts.  I personally think that temperament, at least the traditional view of temperament, is often highly charged and read into by parents.  I know that offends some of  you, and I am sorry for that, but in my personal experience and in my observation of hanging around the attachment parenting community for a long time now, I think that we should put less “labels” on it all and focus on meeting a child’s behaviors where they are.  Sensitive children do need lots of understanding, but so do all children.  All children, even so-called “easy-going” children go through days where their behavior is more challenging and they need help and guidance and connection and warmth.  Part of the personal development and inner work in parenting is learning to be calm during these times, to help guide the child, to meet the child with warmth and understanding and connection. 

My problem with the labels (and I have said this before in my post on the older child with “high needs”)  is that they have a way of not disappearing as the child grows – once a “high-needs baby” then a “high-needs child” then a “high-needs dramatic teenager”.  Yes, there are those personality traits associated in much of the attachment parenting literature (persistence, sensitivity, adaptability, intensity, regularity, activity level, first reaction, mood), and everyone does have these traits to different degrees, but what a boring world it would be if we were all easy-going!  Sometimes I just feel that “high needs   I know some will totally disagree with this, I  just want to challenge parents to meet their babies and children where they are, without labels  and judging and just meet them with love.  You can use the search engine to find more posts about the “high-needs” baby and child and older child.

One thing the author does mention, which I think is totally true, is that some children are more distractible than others, and how sometimes a child who is sensitive to noise and other stimuli end up with massive temper tantrums.  Judy Arnall  puts this under the label of the “highly spirited child”.  One other thing she points out about this type of child is that rhythm, warmth, rest/sleep, physical contact, is very important for this type of child.  These are the things that Steiner saw as important for every child, and I find it interesting,  this intersection of attachment parenting and Waldorf parenting (again!)

The author talks about allowing spirited children to have their whole range of emotions, but again, I think this is important for all children. I feel that yes, some may have more intense demonstrations of emotion that last longer, but all children have emotion! In younger children, the emotions are more undifferentiated (most small children when upset just feel “bad” for example, if you ask them), and the ability to verbalize emotions increases with age and maturity.  In this chapter, the author  talks about the need for the spirited child to have boundaries that cover the important things and not to “battle” over smaller things – this is something I advocate for dealing with all children. 

Moving along!

The author tackles maturation and birth order. The birth order section was interesting to me, birth order always is. 

She recommends for the oldest to give privileges with age, to be careful of their mothering or fathering tendencies and do not put them in charge of siblings all of the time, encourage fun and spontaneity, reinforce that mistakes are okay.  For middle-born children, she recommends encouraging help with chores, asking their advice and avoiding comparisons, put them in the number one position at times and to give them some new things instead of hand-me-downs for everything.  For youngest children she recommends giving chores and responsibility, encouraging independence, and not doing less for them than you did for your oldest.  For only children, she recommends  giving lots of opportunities to develop friendships (okay, as an only child I take a bit of offense here.  Why is that all people seem to think that only children are spoiled brats and need to learn to share?  I have actually had people say to me, “Wow, you don’t act like an only child!”  I guess that is a  nice compliment in a back-handed way?! Hahaha.)  She also recommends for the only child letting them find things to do when they are bored, encouraging sharing and problem-solving skills for conflicts, and doing your best to avoid discussing adult problems and concerns with them (which I recommend for all small children under the age of 7).

She talks about the new baby-toddler syndrome (you know, where your three and four year old seem so big now that there is a baby in the house?)  The author talks about learning styles and multiples intelligences with their implications for discipline, and gender differences.  For a further look, do see back posts on the Elium’s “Raising a Daughter” and “Raising A Son.”  Excellent books as well on this.  She also discusses personality traits, love languages, sensitive children, and brain development milestones.

The brain development milestones is a section I think should be required reading for parents.  I believe today too many parents think their small child has the reasoning capability of an adult, which they strongly rely on in discipline.  This is a faulty view based upon the biology of the child.  The author here goes into every age and what they really do or don’t understand.  Here are just  a few examples, get the book to see all of them!

  • A two-year-old does not understand time-out or what they did wrong or consequences and has no impulse control.  Also has really no memory – when Mommy is gone, Mommy is gone.
  • At five years old, most seem to understand “no” means “do not do that.”  They comply with requests less than half of the time.  They still may hit or kick when frustrated.
  • At six years old, the child cannot “multi-task”.   They can do simple chores one at a time.   They are starting to understand a bit more about what is dangerous, but often doesn’t understand why something is dangerous.
  • Seven years can sit still for half an hour to forty-five minutes; begins to know what is dangerous and why but will forget in the moment if preoccupied with something else
  • Eleven years – stops hitting other person when they are angry, can understand social implication of lying and swearing
  • Twelve years – can do chores without nagging or reminding
  • Twenty to twenty five years is when the frontal lobes are still developing (the frontal lobes control logical thinking and planning, understanding consequences).

I love things like this because they really prove and demonstrate how slowly children develop. 

The author remind us that children are ego-centric, loud, messy, can put themselves in dangerous situations, don’t know how to clean up, very active until about age 12 and need that balance of physical activity versus quiet activities, they are not time focused, they don’t know how loud they are, they are honest, they do things without thinking!

Does this description sound like any of the children in your life?

Love for today,


“Discipline Without Distress”, Chapter Five

(This is such a valuable chapter, focusing on parental anger and how to handle anger in children.  Here is a brief summary of the chapter and some of the tips and some of my thoughts; I encourage you to get the book and read it for yourself.  It is a keeper for the bookshelf, and  covers ages from babyhood through teenagers, so you can use it for many years).

Onto the post:

Ah, you all thought I forgot about this!  I did summaries of the first four chapters, and yes, we are going to finish the book! (You can find summaries of the first four chapters of this book if you use the little search bar and type in “discipline without distress”).    This chapter is entitled, “Good Parents Feel Angry:  Separate Your Anger From Your Discipline”.

Judy Arnall writes,” We need to take responsibility of our actions when we are angry.  Discipline means having the vision to see the long-term picture and keep things in balance.  A Chinese proverb teaches, “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” It’s so much easier to watch what we say in anger than to apologize and try to make amends.”

She lists the reasons parents becomes angry; it is a long list but at the top of the list is “My child doesn’t listen to me”, which, of course, really means “My child doesn’t do as I ask.”  (Their hearing is fine!)

She adds to list anger caused not by the child, but by things going on with US.  Alcohol, stress, our own needs not being met, low tolerance of normal childhood behaviors (remember ALL those posts I did on “realistic expectations” for each age up to age 8??!)

Anger is healthy, it is normal, but the author points out the goal should be to solve a problem.  It alerts us to change, she writes.  Marshall Rosenberg of Nonviolent Communication writes how anger is a sign our needs are not being met. 

Judy Arnall’s method of managing anger is based on the acronym ANGER.  A=Accept it, N=Neutralize it, G=Get Away, E=Examine why, R=Resolve and problem-solve.

She goes through all these steps in this chapter.  There are pages of “calm-down tools” for the adult (that could also work for children).  She talks candidly about avoiding child-time outs when the parent is angry (and if you read this blog, you know I am not for child time-outs period.  I think they essentially teach the child nothing at all.  It does not solve the original problem in any way, shape or form.)

She writes, (and I agree 100 percent):  “When a parent sends a child to time-out, she feels stretched to the limit.  The parent feels upset because she is unable to control the child.  She needs a break from the child and has the power to send the child away.  When the child is gone, she can calm down and she feels more in control of herself, the child and the situation.  It SEEMS to be working.  Parents lose it because they believe they are supposed to be in control. Control is illusionary.  There is no such thing as control when another human being is mixed in the equation. Children have their own control.  The appearance of control is only maintained by our power as long as the children are little.  It’s easier to take a time-out yourself  than to force another person in time-out.”

There is a whole list of ways a parent can take a time-out for themselves even if their child is standing there.  She also has great tips for breaking the yelling habit.

The next section of this chapter is all about dealing with an angry child.  She writes, “We don’t have many role models of adults handling children’s anger.  Most often, we handle it the way our parents handled it.”

She details the ways children express anger: Babies with red faces and crying and grunts of protest; toddlers and preschoolers with hitting, screaming, yelling, crying, tantrums, throwing things, stomping feet; for middle childhood teasing, sarcasm, bullying, hitting, yelling, crying, throwing things, withdrawal and a sulky attitude and for teenagers sulking, teasing, sarcasm, hitting, yelling, throwing things, depression, withdrawal and other things under the heading of “attitude”.  Typically by age 10 or 12, she writes, a child can begin to handle anger without hitting or throwing things.

Children can get frustrated and angry from not having their needs met, by a parent who has completely unrealistic expectations for the age their child is (or the child’s developmental level is my added thought), feeling they have been treated unfairly, etc.

Carrie here:  As the parent, you are not responsible for your child’s feelings.  This can be such a hard thing to not want to own.  We listen to our child’s feelings, but the feeling does not belong to us to solve.  If your child is bored, sad, angry, happy – that belongs to the child.  You can have a rhythm, you can have a calm house and some children are still going to be more wild or more negative or whatever than other children of the same age (even accounting for those realistic expectations for their age!).  The only thing you can control is you.

I think the other work for you is to figure out your own “triggers” – does the house being a disaster set you off?  Being hurried?  Not having food or a menu plan going on so you are stressed around dinner time?  If you can figure out your stress triggers, then you can solve it and put a plan in place to make your house a calmer, happier place. 

Judy Arnall’s tips for reducing your child’s anger include using tools of solving problems, having realistic expectations for your child’s age (she is singing my song here!), avoiding hitting because that just shows that hitting  is what we do when we are angry, not to isolate the child if that makes them more angry, not comparing children, listening to your child’s frustration if they can verbalize it without interrupting.  She goes through her ANGER acronym approach for helping children manage their anger. 

She talks about “negating phrases”, which I especially liked because you hear them so much:  “Stop making a fuss”  “It’s no big deal”  “Can’t you be nice?”  “Nice little boys (or girls) don’t act that way.” “You don’t really feel that way.” “What’s wrong with you?”  “You are so ungrateful!” and many more.  It is a sobering list to read and think about how many times we hear parents talk this way to their child. 

The tongue is a powerful ally in parenting but it can also be a terrible weapon.  It is an area where many of us need to learn to be able to relax into silence ourselves, to smile or pat a child on the back, to just breathe a minute before we say something we will completely regret later on.

She has a whole section on temper tantrums, which are most common between the ages of  one and three and a half (although really, a teenager who is running around slamming doors to me is having a temper tantrum of sorts.  Do they ever totally disappear?)  But at any rate, this part of the chapter has tips and techniques for dealing with tantrums.  I do disagree with the author that a way to prevent power struggle temper tantrums is to “give lots of choices”.  I find most small children under 9 are much happier and less prone to tantrums if all the decision-making is not on their shoulders for what they should wear, eat, do.  Time-out is a very ineffective way of dealing with a temper tantrum.

She does detail how to move a tantruming toddler, how to get a tantruming toddler into a car seat (I personally have found it just best to breathe and wait a minute or minutes and not force a child into a car seat as hard as it can be to wait), how to deal with the “spirited child’’s temper tantrums, how to handle public misbehavior (and her number one tip is to have realistic expectations!  A toddler is not going to sit through going out to dinner!), what to do with the older angry child, and what to do about apologies. 

Carrie here:  The trick with temper tantrums is that YOU must remain calm.  YOU must be the rock in the swiftly moving stream! You must show your child how to have self-control!  Let this practice of developing your own inner self-control be YOUR inner work!

The very last part of the chapter involves “Counteracting Parent Stress” and she addresses fatigue and how to deal with it, how to get time for yourself in five, twenty, two hour increments; she has a section for couples and encouragement for spending time together, de-cluttering your life, the cleanliness of your home, and helping children play independently.  For facilitating children’s play she talks about unplugging the TV and other media and packing away many toys, leaving out unstructured play materials.  Sounds Waldorf to me!

Anyway, if gentle parenting and not spanking are new paths for you in you this New Year, I encourage you to check out this book.  I don’t agree with every single thing in it, but it sure would be a good place to start!

Here’s the link:  http://www.amazon.com/Discipline-Without-Distress-responsible-punishment/dp/0978050908/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262460572&sr=8-1

Much love,


“Discipline Without Distress: Chapter Four”

t So, I am continuing to slowly work my way through the book “Discipline Without Distress” by Judy Arnall.  Today is Chapter Four:  “Punishments and Bribes Don’t Work:  Look for the need or feeling under the behavior.”

The author starts out with a statement about punishments:  “Punishments are used more for the person giving them than the person receiving them.  They are meant to fill a need in the person who was wronged, or in the case of parents, who perceive the wrongdoing and are in charge of teaching the child that what he did was wrong.”

She goes on to write, “Punishments often impede the learning process.  Children become immersed in their anger, fear, and hurt and don’t often get the lesson.  Or the lesson they take away is that they can’t communicate with their parents.”

The author has a long list of problems against punishments on page 99 of this book, which would make a handy list to copy and put up somewhere as a reminder to yourself!  She also talks about “time-out” (which you all know I despise completely if you have been reading my blog for any length of time) as the most confusing and overused discipline method to come out of the last two decades.  She looks at both the advantages and disadvantages of time-out and the disadvantage list is much, much longer than the advantages list.

She writes, “Generally, parents want children to have appropriate time-out behavior such as being quiet, reflective, and still. They are supposed to behave that way for a certain amount of time.  That is very hard because the time a time-out is most often prescribed is when a child is out of control emotionally.  Their inability to calm down sufficiently enough to take a time-out can ire parents.  Both parties are now in a power struggle and are very angry.”   The only time-out I recommend is if YOU, the PARENT, needs to gain control of yourself.  Time-out is a tool for the PARENT, but not the child. 

Like myself, the author recommends TIME-IN.  Time-in is a calm-down strategy and does not leave the child to figure out how to handle out his or her flood of emotions without any help or guidance. 

The author than goes through the problems with spanking.  I am happy to go through this list if someone needs this help – just leave a comment  in the comment box and I will happily write a post on spanking.  There are also some posts about “no spanking” available by clicking on the tag in the tags section. 

YELLING is a habit many mothers seem to have.  Yelling loses its effectiveness over time and can be very threatening to young children and also encourages children to yell back at you!  Grounding, withdrawal of privileges, the use of “logical consequences”, lecturing, threats, blaming and shaming, withholding love and affection, withholding money or allowances, extra chore assignment, sarcasm and name-calling and scolding and correcting are all also addressed.   Bribery is also addressed.

One tool to think about using is ENCOURAGEMENT.  Sometimes we point out so many critical things about our child with no encouragement at all.  “If someone corrected us 18 times in an hour, I think we might explode at that person.  Yet, the effects on children go unseen for many days, months, and sometimes years.” 

The author’s suggestion is to stop giving negative attention to the behavior in the form of a correction and to start noticing every tiny little thing the child does “right”.  She even suggests filling up a bag with 25 marbles and carrying it around and each time you notice something positive, take a marble out and put them in a container.  If you correct, put a marble back in your bag that you are carrying around. 

This is a list of why children “misbehave”, what need might underlie this behavior. 

  • Hunger, poor diet or food allergies.
  • Not enough sleep.
  • Boredom.
  • Over-active – children need to expand energy every two hours.
  • Illness or health problem
  • Developmental changes
  • Needs more social activities.
  • Needs less social activities.
  • Hormonal changes in puberty. 
  • Feeling contrary
  • Over-stimulated
  • Watches too much violence
  • Over-scheduled.
  • Unrealistic expectations!  Young children do not get “logic”!
  • Rule following is inconsistent in the family.
  • Not enough positive attention.
  • Feelings are negated by family members.
  • Not staying with “NO” consistently and therefore the child does not realize No means No.
  • Too rigid of rules ( I think this often goes back to unrealistic expectations).
  • Too many transitions (May go back to over-scheduled)
  • Not enough control or choices, especially for those age 9 and above. 
  • Conflicts are not solved with mutual respect
  • Stress due to job loss, divorce, move, holidays, etc.
  • Insecurities
  • Labeling children in such a way it becomes a big self-fulfilling prophecy (This is a MAJOR PET PEEVE OF MINE!)

A great chapter to read yourself!  I hope everyone is following along!

Happy thinking,


“Discipline Without Distress”: Chapter 3 “Discipline, Not Punishment”

This chapter talks about the differences between discipline and punishment.  Punishment means to hurt by causing physical, emotional or social pain whereas discipline means to teach. 

I like this quote:  “Punishment disconnects parent and child.  It also produces anger, resentment, retaliation, fear, submission or passive aggression in the child.  It produces  guilt, remorse, and inconsistency of action in the parent because no one likes to see their child suffer for very long.  Discipline, on the other hand, is respectful, caring, and gives attention to the relationship.  Discipline does not intentionally hurt.  Both sides are left feeling connected.”

I think this is a major point; in Waldorf parenting we talk about how if you start out thinking you versus child in your head that you have already lost.  The magical and sacred connection between a child and a caring adult is broken, and no good teaching or imitative example for the child to follow can come from that. 

This chapter also talks about the difference between praise and encouragement and how encouragement is what one gives another during the process, and how praise is given at the end of a project.  Praise is frequently a judgment of the child, and in a way a kind of bribe as the child must “earn” the praise by doing the “right” thing (which is judged by the parent).  Encouragement, on the other hand, is something you can give a child that is not doing well, a child who is making mistakes, a child who needs to feel accepted and capable. 

The author talks about “overindulgent children.”  She mentions in this quote:  “Overindulgent children are ones not embraced in love, caring, and  nurturing their feelings.  They are not picked up when they cry as babies and don’t have anyone to acknowledge their feelings or care about what they think as children.  They are undernourished in caring, love and attention, and over-nourished in consumer goods.”  The author goes on to paint a very specific picture of what a overindulged child looks like, and what an overindulgent parent looks like.    This involves the whole concept of boundaries, which is something that Donna Simmons of www.christopherushomeschool.org talks about with frequency. 

The reality is that parents and other family members do have needs, and it is okay to teach your child that other people have needs!  Setting limits can be for the safety, health and sanity of all family members. 

The author writes, “The essential component of setting limits is sometimes we have to say “no” to our child’s request.  True discipline is not about making a child do what he is told, making a child come when called, or making a child keep his room clean.  It’s about helping him to be an interdependent person in charge of his future.  It’s about raising him to respect other people and to be responsible and caring also to himself.” 

She goes on to write, “Somehow, we expect our children to accept our “no” with pleasantness and  politeness, which is pretty  unrealistic when we can’t even muster that as adults!  The key is to stay calm after you say “no”.  You are dealing with a child’s anger.  You’re modeling self-control and self-discipline and that will go a long way in teaching a child to handle theirs.”

Children are  often verbally corrected many times a day, and the author points out that “no” can lose its impact.  Save your “no” for the big things, and let your rhythm carry the day.  Save your “no” for the things your family has decided is important in your family mission statement. 

Till next time,