Friday, October 23, 2015

Discipline Without Damage: The Question We Need to Ask Ourselves

I recently went to a parenting seminar by Dr. Vanessa Lapointe who spoke based on her book  Discipline Without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up. It was a good talk for me to attend – and not in the affirming "Phew, I've been doing everything right kind of way."

Discipline without damage: The question we need to ask ourselves

It was encouraging to hear how we can discipline and connect with our kids better using a few simple tips.

The most common way that we had been disciplining our kids over the younger years was a Time Out where they were close by but still had a few minutes to calm down and think. Let's be honest, with four young kids, it was often used to get them out of my hair so I didn't lose it. For Nya, it was more of a "Time In" where I sat there with her and talked it through because she couldn't calm down on her own. Time Outs are not recommended by Dr. Lapointe based on disconnection and I can see why especially with one of our kids in particular.

She encourages caregivers to think "How do I be what my kid needs?" rather than "What do I do?" when approaching a situation where your child needs direction and discipline.

{Time Out bench}

Koen was ending up in Time Out about five times a day (our other kids were closer to once a week) and it turned into a cycle. Not listening? Bugging a sibling? Using a naughty word? Off to Time Out you go. He would say "sorry" and then a few minutes later, the behaviour continued. Koen was six years old and in school full-time that year. His love language is physical touch and he yearns for cuddles with us all the time. When he came home from school, he felt so disconnected that he acted wild and angry, which we had been quick to respond to but not in a helpful way. We decided to really work on looking beyond his actions and to address the heart of it all. Gary and I tried to connect with Koen more throughout the day and when a discipline issue came up, we would head to the couch to cuddle and talk it out –  similar to our technique of a Time In with Nya.

{Being pro-active and filling him up with connection}

This doesn't sound earth-shattering but it was a good tip for us to hear at a time when we were starting to really struggle with his actions.

Other great discipline tips are: 

  • Avoid explanations of your "no" in the moment.
  • Be firm and KIND (no you may not _______and  I know that it's hard). 
  • If you feel like you are going to lose it, exit gracefully. This was one of the biggest challenges for me because when I'm about to lose it, well, I always say exactly what I'm thinking so it's hard for me to say "Hold on, I'll be right back. I just need to switch the laundry over" – they may think all I do is laundry.

Each child is so different and connection is key to having fewer discipline issues down the road.

I know that my oldest loves to be in activity with us and going for a walk, tossing around the football, or reading a book are a few of his favourites. I need to make sure that we make time for that, too.

Discipline can be a touchy subject so I'm not telling you what to do in any way. I'm just sharing what we'll be working on. Thoughts? Happy cuddling.


How can we best discipline our children? What is the one question we should be asking?


  1. Anonymous7:40 AM

    Good tips! Thanks for the encouragement in this area!
    We have the same "issue" with Addison on school days and then it's worse on non-school days. It is exhausting but I've learned she needs to come home and just go play in her room for a while and I just need to keep Jacob away from her for a bit because he just wants to play because he's missed her all day. I think most days are a good balance of time outs and time ins. But now we're working on getting the obedience the first time we ask to hopefully nix the explosion that comes afterwards.

    1. Always so much to learn, right? Koen definitely needs his down time when he gets home but I think he needs it with either Gary or I there with him. So far we've seen good results!

    2. Anonymous9:18 AM

      Great! Glad that you're finding ways to make it work! Addison likes her alone time so I give that to her for a bit and then I go and chat with her for a bit and she usually finishes the rest of her food from her lunch because she talks to much to eat it then!

  2. I admire how you and Gary are always trying to improve your parenting skills!

    1. Thank you for your encouragement, Carol! I'm not sure how much Gary loves it but I love that he is on board.

  3. Karen1:04 PM

    Thumbs up to you guys! Interesting thoughts on time out.

    1. Thanks for the thumbs up :) Different than how we grew up, right? We were sent to the laundry room and I think we often parent what we know. Doesn't hurt to get a few more perspectives and opinions!

  4. I also love how you are always learning as much as you can! There are so many resources available, I love it. I am a total cuddler so I hope at least one of my kids will be :)

    1. Thanks Katrina :) There are so many resources, it's awesome and sometimes overwhelming!

  5. Anonymous4:55 AM

    I'm in a similar boat. How's it going months later?