KIOS: Parenting, Part 11: Gentle Discipline

This post is part of my series, “Kickin’ It Old Skool: Why and How We Are Old-Fashioned” or KIOS for short.  If you’re new to the series, please read my disclaimer before continuing on.  I’m keeping a table of contents to this series here so you can see what I’ve already written about and what more there is to come. 

The majority of the posts in this series have applied more to the “baby/toddler” stage of parenting than to older kids, which is understandable considering that we only have one baby and she’s just 19 months old!  The next two posts are reaching more into the “as our child matures” realm and so will consequently be shorter on real-world experience and longer on theory and “we think this is what we’re going to do.” 


Yes, that’s a tricky word, which strikes fear into the hearts of many.

(And yes, I know this particular issue, particularly in Christian circles, can be quite divisive too.  So don’t forget about that disclaimer!)

At this point it’s going to be easier for me to tell you what we don’t want to do rather than what we do want to do because we’re still just slowly feeling our way into this one.

We don’t want to spank.  We don’t want to use time-outs.  We don’t want to use any form of punitive discipline or punishment.   We know that children (and adults for that matter) don’t learn well in an atmosphere of punishment.  We don’t want our child to grow up in a household where hitting (which is what spanking is) is condoned in any way.

But what are we going to do instead?  How will we not have a wild child, running around without any form of self-control, if we don’t use spanking or time outs?

Good question.

We’re still working on the answer to that one ourselves.  I’m part of an online attachment parenting group (for the Baltimore area) and I posed the same question to the group a few weeks ago.  I got a wealth of responses, which we will draw from as we figure this out, including:

  • set children up for success
  • use natural consequences as appropriate for negative behavior (as in, “if you hit your friend, then we’re going home because that’s not appropriate behavior.”
  • a household geared toward mutual understanding and clear expectations
  • discipline is teaching our kids what to do, not what not to do.
  • a mix of talking about the behavior, redirecting, distracting, and/or time-ins.
  • time-in rather than time out: removing the child from the situation but staying with him or her, to calm down and talk through what’s going on and then apply natural appropriate consequences
  • choices, hard way or easy way
  • very few rules to remember:  1. safety 2. respect and kindness for ourselves and others

For Ellie, right now, we’ve baby-proofed the house so that there’s not much that she’s not allowed to touch.  This has allowed me to focus on just a few important items that are off-limits (like the stove) and we are slowly learning boundaries.  I’ve observed Ellie tell herself, “No,” and pull away from something that I’ve just talked to her about and I know that it’s slowly sinking in.  Obviously, she doesn’t remember this all the time – we’re not perfect!  But it is gratifying to see that little by little, things are sinking in.

The Latin root of discipline is “disciple”, and is about instruction, teaching, learning, and gaining knowledge.  We view discipline as helping our child develop a inner fortitude to do what’s right.  As Ellie grows and matures, we’ll have to learn what motivates her, what her struggles are, and what comes easily to her.  As we get to know her better (and ourselves as parents), we will also learn how to better discipline her, how to best teach and instruct her so that she is able to appropriately interact with her parents, her extended family, her friends, and the larger world with kindness and respect.


  • There’s a lot written out there on the Web about the Christian viewpoint for not spanking.  Here’s one blog post that I particularly like along with a follow-up post by the same author about gentle discipline.
  • Here’s an article that fairly succinctly explains why we view time-outs as punishment and why we don’t plan to use them (except for the parents!).
  • Two books that have been helpful to us:  Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel and Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk
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3 Responses to KIOS: Parenting, Part 11: Gentle Discipline

  1. Pingback: KIOS: Parenting, Part 12: Homeschooling « Salmon and Souvlaki

  2. Pingback: Connect , Then Correct | Salmon and Souvlaki

  3. Pingback: Favorite Books of 2014: Non-Fiction (everything else) | Salmon and Souvlaki

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