In Action: Remaining Calm For Discipline

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I wanted to share a tender moment Brayden and I had the other day. Kaitlyn came to me crying because Brayden pushed her finger. It definitely wasn’t a situation that caused her any pain in the least, but I knew he had done it out of frustration, and that is not okay with me in the least.

I could have gotten really mad and sent him away to sit in his room for a while. I could have lectured him about his actions. I could have removed every privilege known to his mind.

And believe me. I kind of wanted to. Any sort of physical aggression by him on a younger sister is absolutely NOT okay with me. At all. I am a patient mother, but when it comes to this, I my patience runs out before it begins.

But this is also very uncharacteristic of him. He never touches people out of anger–even other boys who are egging him on. He just has great control in that way. I had a voice tell me to pause. I knew there was something bothering him. I took a deep breath. Then I told Kaitlyn to go play. I took Brayden into the office and close the doors so we could talk privately.

I took him onto my lap. I asked him if he had pushed Kaitlyn’s finger (if you are trying to figure out what that entails, I have no idea. I didn’t delve into how exactly you push someone’s finger, I just knew she said he had done that). He said that he had. I asked him why and he cried. Brayden takes his mistakes very seriously.

As we talked about what he had done and why it wasn’t okay, he told me he was feeling very sad. I asked him why. He said he didn’t know; he just felt sad.

I then went on to tell him that a great thing to do when we feel sad is to do service for other people. I explained that service makes us happy. He asked me how I knew. I told him that Heavenly Father had told us through scriptures and I had tried it and found it to be true. We talked about how we learn the word of God through reading scriptures and how he is a God of Truth and everything He says is true. Brayden then cried because he didn’t know how to read scriptures yet, and I explained that is the reason we read scriptures to him each night.

We had a great conversation. It was a tender moment where I was able to teach him some truths. I would have missed that opportunity if I had reacted out of anger instead of love.

Now, he was still required to ask for Katilyn’s forgiveness. He worried she wouldn’t forgive him, but of course she did (that is the great thing about two year olds, right?). He lost a privilege for being unkind to his sister.

But he also learned a great lesson during our talk. I also learned he was feeling sad. We practiced doing some service to see how we felt afterward, and he was able to learn that service does bring happiness.

This is an example of finding teaching moments as they come and taking the opportunity to teach them. Teaching moments are so much more powerful than sit-down lectures.

So as your children make wrong choices, remember to stay calm. Use it as a teaching moment–not simply as s punishment moment. Yes, there are consequences for choices, but that doesn’t require anger or retraction of love from the parent. Show love as you offer discipline, and your child will feel that you do it out of love. I don’t mean to lead you to believe the child will hug and kiss you and thank you for offering discipline, but the child will feel your love and know you love him.


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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Mollie Energy
    March 17, 2010 / 6:08 PM

    what a sweet story!

  2. Janelle
    March 17, 2010 / 7:08 PM

    I think it's also really important to take your child's personality and tendencies into consideration. You knew that what Brayden did was uncharacteristic of him and then you took the time to find out what was really bothering him. Baby Whisperer talks about getting to know who your infant really is and I think the same applies to your toddlers as their own personality emerges.

  3. Heidi
    March 17, 2010 / 7:14 PM

    I needed this today, thanks so much!

  4. Kristin
    March 17, 2010 / 7:37 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing. This is difficult for me. I believe in it wholeheartedly, but the execution is a bit elusive at times. I love stories like these because they help motivate me by showing me what I could be missing. Thanks again!

  5. Lisa Chaffee
    March 18, 2010 / 12:06 AM

    Thank you for sharing, this is definitely something I want to remember in the future when my son is older.

  6. Jenny Z
    March 19, 2010 / 12:51 AM

    I was really encouraged by this post. Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

  7. Amanda
    March 19, 2010 / 1:33 AM

    Wow, what a cool story and what a great example of the true meaning of discipline. As my pregnancy-irritability kicked in today I really really needed this reminder!

  8. Plowmanators
    April 5, 2010 / 10:17 PM

    You are welcome everyone!

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