Conscious Discipline

Conscious discipline. It is something I think about and struggle with daily, while trying to meet the needs of four very different children–and my husband’s, and my own. So it was like wandering through a cool, nourishing summer rainstorm to discover these ten simple principles of conscious discipline on my friend Kristin’s blog. (You will have to scroll down past the beautiful black and white photographs to find the link within the text). Kristin is the director of a preschool to which I long to send my children; except that we’re separated by several time zones. In fact, to my knowledge we’ve met only once in our lives, as children, and reuinted these many years later via the wonders of Facebook and Blogland.
I’ve tried to distill these ten rules of conscious discipline even further for my own purposes, and fit them all onto one handy reminder sheet which I intend to study whenever perplexed or frustrated. Here they are, for you.
1. Tell your children what to do. Rather than what not to do.
Principle: You get what you focus on.

2. When you’re upset, you need to give your children information they can use.
Not: “Why would you do that?” (Seriously, could you answer that? I know I couldn’t. Yet, it’s an oddly tempting opening line when upset).
Instead: “Let’s start by doing this …” “Let’s think about this …”

3. The only person you can change is yourself.
Therefore, you need to ask yourself questions that will bring about creative, cooperative solutions.
Not: “How can I make my child stay in bed?” (manipulation or coercion)
Instead: “How can I help my child be more likely to choose to stay in bed?”

4. Two heads are better than one.
Ask your children to work with you to solve their problems.

5. Spend time with your children. Establish family rituals. Be in relationship.
“I don’t care” = I don’t feel cared for.

6. Encouragement empowers.
In wonderful times. In tough times.
“I believe in you.”

7. Take back your power.
Not: “You’re driving me nuts.” (Who’s in charge of your feelings?)
Instead: “I’m going to take a deep breath and calm myself down. Then I will talk to you.”

8. Become the person you want your children to be.
Take a deep breath

9. Do not save your children from the consequences of their actions.
Principle: Psychological pain is a signal to make changes in your life.
Don’t lecture: “I told you so …”
Empathize. “I know that was really important to you …”

10. Conflict is an opportunity to teach.
Don’t punish children for not knowing how to resolve conflict.
Teach them: assertiveness.
“I don’t like it when you …”
(I would like to add that “taking a deep breath” is a really fabulous skill to teach your children. In fact, Albus uses this technique, and the other day was teaching it to his younger sister, who was in the midst of a tantrum. Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth, taking your time; repeat for at least ten breaths. You can do this facing your child, showing them how to breathe, too. Albus does it the other way round–in through his mouth and out through his nose; whatever works!)


A couple more images from our today: Pie for breakfast! Now that’s a happy-making prospect. Thanks to Nina and Matthew, friends and neighbours, for giving us this delicious gift. I’m thinking … hmmm, pie for supper, too?
And talk about how a parent can help her child choose to stay in bed … well, late-night sewing projects are not a means to that end. Last night, after brushing her teeth and putting on her pajamas, Apple-Apple felt inspired to work on a dressing gown for the girls’ doll. This meant she did not get as much reading-in-bed time; she did not cope well with the consequences of this lesson in time-management. But she did wake extra early to continue working on the project, till done.
Memoir Research
Food Food Food Food Food


  1. Tricia Orchard

    I have tears in my eyes. I had a hell of a day with H this afternoon and it was all I could do to keep my frustration under control. I will write these principals down and try to remember them next time.

    Thanks for posting them.


  2. Carrie

    Tricia, it sounds like these were a balm to you, too. They really resonated with me when I first read them, and I instantly wanted to encorporate them consciously into my daily life.
    Here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *