Discipline Series


But I didn

t see that at first. So I kept at it and kept at it. And paren

ting wore me down and

drained me. It was not that much fun or enjoyable. I found my

self in endless power struggles

with my kids, particularly my oldest son.

The light-bulb moment

Eventually, with the help of my dear friend and mentor Dr.

Shefali, I was able to understand

consequences (and thus discipline) in a completely new way. W

hen we give un-natural

consequences to our kids, it takes their focus away from wh

at they are doing and places it

outside of them and onto the reward or punishment. Now, in

stead of really focusing on their

behavior and choices, they are focused on getting more of the

good stuff (reward) or avoidin


the bad stuff (consequence).

Human nature

s role

The problem here is it is our human nature to find ways to mak

e ourselves more comfortable. It

is just the way we are wired. We seek out things that make us mor

e comfortable and avoid

things that make us less.

We may hide our behavior to avoid punishment (aka lying). This

external consequence does

nothing to teach us what to do better next time. Rather it ju

st reinforces our natural desire to

avoid getting this consequence in the future. Whether we avoi

d it by doing better next time or

just hiding it better next time.

We may also do more of what gets us what we want more of. In the

example of going on the

potty, we may sit on the potty 397 times a day. We hope to get

that little sticker or candy or

whatever it is. This behavior has nothing whatsoever to do

with whether we actually have to go

all 397 times. It is merely us looking for more of what makes

us comfortable (i.e., the reward).

What IS a better way?

A better way is to bring Newton

s 3rd law into our parenting. To allow a natural reaction

to our


s action. Not one that we have artificially created.

That sounds perfectly reasonable, right? But I bet you are w

ondering how in the world you are

actually supposed to do that?


s look at a few examples:

On a positive note, imagine our child holds the door for th

e next person coming in to a store

and the person makes a big fuss over them. They thank them and

tell them how kind and polite

they are. Odds are at that our child feels proud of themselves

and is more likely to hold the

door again the next time.

One example

One of my favorite examples that Dr. Shefali has used is when your c

hild won

t turn their

bedroom light off when they leave for school in the morning

. You have nagged, yelled,

threatened and punished (no screen time for a week!) to no avai

l. Your child still leaves the

light on. In order to conserve energy, we need to turn off

the light when we leave the room.

Using natural consequences, it would be important for you to

sit down with your child in a calm

manner (NOT in the heat of the moment). Explain to your child why

it is important to turn off

the light when they leave the room.

If your child still leaves the light on when they leave th

e room, perhaps you remove the light

from their room until they can better remember. Having a bedro

om light is a responsibility. If

they are not choosing to be responsible with the light, p

erhaps they are not ready to be

responsible for the light. Of course, you would not use t

his example with a very young child.

They are not developmentally ready to be able to do the right th

ing in this case.

Which is an important point.

Natural consequences have to be natural given the circumstances, i

ncluding the child


developmental level.

In the case of potty-training, if your child continues

to not want to sit on the potty or doesn


seem to get the idea of what the potty is for, or refuses

to sit on the potty, rather than try to

bribe them with external rewards, perhaps it is better to s

imply back off and wait a few more

months and try again. Barring any underlying medical issue, if

we can be patient enough to wait

until a child decides they are ready to potty train, the whol

e process will go much quicker.

In the case of a child not wanting to clean up their room

or put away their laundry, again

depending on the developmental level of the child, if they are not

ready to handle caring for

their things, perhaps they are not ready to get new things

(like clothes or toys, etc.).

With these examples, I hope I have given you some ideas of how yo

u can begin shifting away

from rewards and punishments. And rather, move towards allowing n

atural consequences to

lead the way.

And when you allow natural consequences to talk, it is import

ant to follow up with your child.

Make sure they know or help them to figure out what they can

do differently next time to make

a better choice and thus, initiate a different (hopefully bet

ter) consequence.

I have created part 3 of my FREE series on discipline. Make sure

you pick up your copy below.

>>> Fill out

this form

to get my FREE download, The Fine Art of Discipline, Part 3

for Parents <<<

What is your biggest discipline challenge right now?

Erin Taylor


Erin Taylor is a mom, parent coach, and author of Con

nection and Kindness: The Key to Changing the World

through Parenting. Her podcast, Powerful Parenting for Toda


s Kids is enjoyed by parents around the world. Erin

was able to take the tragedy of the death of her infant dau

ghter and turn it around to not only survive, but thriv


and help others to do the same. You can learn more about

her at



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