“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,