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That's a good point. I'm quite tired of seing how my 5 year old cousin is driving my aunt crazy. She was so spoiled before, and now that my aunt is pregnant they expect her to behave properly... and she wouldn't listen because she was never expected to.

Instead of yelling (that's what my aunt does when she can't take it anymore) I explain why we're upset and what would make us be happy about her behaviour. She hated me at first but now when I say "no way" she understands. She even told me she loved me two days ago (and I went all "aaaaawwww").

She should've been given clear boundaries before... now my aunt believes she's "old enough" to be told what's wrong with her behaviour... and I truly believe she was before, but hey, I'm not her mother. I don't have children so who am I to talk?


I have some family that were pretty harshly disciplined as children, and because of that, didn't want to do the same with their child. Rather than learn a better way, they pretty much let her run wild until she was about 7. She was a much happier child, they were all happier, after they woke up and realized what was going on, and started real discipline. Limits, not punishment. She's a wonderful 16 year old now.


These are great points. I'd love to see a post that also starts to address the parents that started out with great intentions (like me), but who lost their way in certain areas and need some tips and reminders on how to bring things back into focus. This is a great site - way to go Mary and Motherapist! :-)


Kristen, that's a great idea for a post!

If any of you have other ideas about posts you'd like to see, please let us know!


I was very harshly disciplined as a child/teenager and even as recently as 2 years ago, my father tried to hit me because I verbally disagreed with something he said! (I was 36 at the time!) So with my 2 year old, I have been very conscious of punishment, and have never really done it..that is, until today, when I hit his hand after endlessly taking him off the side table to prevent him from turning on the lamp. He thinks everything I do with him is a game and laughs when I attempt to put him in a time out (a chair away from the "action"). So, when I hit him, he was shocked and started crying, and I walked away. Because I could see my parents in me. But I don't know what else to do. He challenges me at every turn, and he doesn't talk yet, so communication is non-existent. We are having him tested for language delays, I have concerns about autism, and to top it all off, I am due any day now with our 2nd baby. I love him dearly, and up until today, he didn't know what it felt like to have a parent hit him. I am so upset right now, and I am really hoping I can get some good advice. I read Mary P's blog religiously, and I would love to be able to get my son to respond to me the way her charges do.

Lady M

Congratulations on your new site, Mary P! Nice to meet you Motherapist! Looking forward to the coming wisdom.

We're entering the "testing" phase with our toddler, so today's discipline post was useful.


Here is another idea for a post (that I was dealing with ALL day today). My almost 3 year old has entered the "Why" phase. This afternoon, everything I asked him to do or said to him was responded to with "Why?". (Even when I know he knows the answer!) On one hand, I want him to question and develop reasoning skills. I know he is doing this to learn more about the world around him. Yet other times I find myself wanting to shout "Because I said so!!!" ;-) I have actually started to say more and more "Why do you think?" Yet, I do want him to learn to OBEY right away. What are ways to encourage obidence without sqelching the desire to learn? I know Mary P has decribed some of her adventures of a child who questioned ALL THE TIME, and it is just downright annoying, and I don't want him to annoy me & others--another factor there. Any thoughts/tips/help would be appreciated!

Mary P

Hello, Bombaygirl! Pleased to meet you!

Sounds to me like you're handling things well so far. You've identified the issue and your expectations. You are aware of how your family history affects your reaction to your son. You are taking the wise first steps of consulting your doctor and other experts to make sure he is capable of understanding your expectations of his behaviour.

Your unfortunate experience with "discipline" (which sounds suspiciously like "abuse" to me) has cast a huge shadow over your parenting. Of course it has. Now, with a child of your own, you know how you don't want to be, but you haven't a clear notion of what positive will replace the negative.

When you've experienced something like that, it's hard to know when and how to draw the line firmly, without either crossing it or stopping so far short that your child doesn't take you seriously. It sounds like you may have the latter problem, but, really if you have to choose one or the other, this is better than abuse!

There is a middle ground, of course, where you can be firm and your child can learn respect, all done with respect and not fear.

How this is accomplished is more than can be managed in a wee little comment box! Over at MiM's, I contributed to a post on avoiding physical punishment. You can find it here:

Perhaps it can be a helpful start for you.


Great idea you two!!

By the way, have you read "Love and Logic"? It's a whole site, but I love their books. When parents come to me (a third grade teacher) with discipline issues and want resources, it is the first place I send them. Many of the books are geared toward older children/teenagers, but as you say, it is never too young to start.


Thanks Mary P. I bookmarked the various posts in a "Discipline" folder so that I can refer to them again and again. Its good to know that my child isn't the only one to act the way he does, and I will be really thrilled the day he actually responds to the discipline the way the other kids do!


Great site ladies.


It is a never ending source of frustration for me that I have to say "no, no" 40,000 times a day in order to get my boy to stop pulling all the books of the shelves, or all the DVD's off the shelves, or the like. It's frustrating because I am a person that likes instant gratification (or, as Carrie Fisher says "instant gratification takes TOO long") I KNOW that it works to say "no, no CD's", or whatever, and move my boy away from whatever it is. But my GOD, I have to say it a LOT and I know that I am going to have to KEEP saying it a lot and it makes me crazy, sometimes. But what makes me crazier is a kid that never listens to a word that his parents say, as is the case with my niece and nephew and nearly every child that comes into the restaurant where I work one night a week. So I keep reminding myself that my boy and I are trying to work on him becoming a little boy, then a bigger boy, then a teenager, etc. etc. My role in this is to help him and remind him that we can't go around pulling crap off shelves when we're in our house, or other people's houses. I'm not punishing him, I'm helping him, the way I see it. At least I see it that way when I'm thinking clearly, which is, oh, at least 10 minutes a day.

Great site!


It looks like there will be a lot of great advice here. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Since you asked about ideas, I have one for you. My husband and I have very different ideas sometimes about methods of discipline. He is much more about letting our daughter see the consequences of her actions, and I'm more likely to explain them to her instead. I know that both are valid and each works better in certain situations, but end up feeling defensive of my methods anyway. How do you reach a compromise and show a united front when you disagree?


What a wonderful endeavour with a fabulous mission statement... I will definitely be bookmarking your blog!

I am a first time parent to a 15 month old- by his second month of life, I had read all of the baby manuals and had somehow cobbled together a parenting gestalt that was working for me, my husband and our son (I mean, I really had styled myself as a baby "pro"!)- but now that he's mobile, with meltdowns occuring every 15 minutes, I am realizing that I am back to the drawing board (!!!) yikes! So, I am avidly soaking in this discussion on discipline-

Here is a question, and possibility fodder for a new post(?) I took my son to the library yesterday, where he had a wonderful time toddling and cruising around their designated infant "discovery zone." This was a hot day in Phoenix (115!) and there were a LOT of kids in the library- many of which were unsupervised. While I was watching my son, another little girl (maybe about 5 or 6 ish?) just walked over to him and pushed him down to the ground. No parents around, and definitely a chld of an age that should "know better.' Since I have no concept of what is or is not appropriate to say to another parent's child, I kind of just picked up my son and avoided the situation (run away!). However, in consultation with other friends, I was told that I need to "model" appropriate behaviour for my son by telling other children that this sort of thing is not appropriate.

I am sure this is a common scenario that old school parenting pros can handle, but it stresses me out!I am very hesitant to "discipline" another parent's child, especially when there is no parent around with whom to consult or report said bad behaviour. How would you guys handle this situation?

Laura S.

Hi Kathrynaz!

The situation you described with your son at the library is so common! I've encountered it many times myself.

What I suggest is rather than speaking to the other child, speak to your own. You can say to him, "When someone pushes you, tell them, 'Stop! No push!'" or "'Stop! Use words!'" Then demonstrate how he can hold his hand out in front of himself, palm facing out, like a traffic cop. Even if he's not very verbal yet, showing him how to handle these situations as soon as he begins to experience them empowers him. If he only watches you reprimand the little girl, then he's not empowered.

Sadly, our children are going to encounter these types of situations over and over again. The best we can do is teach them how to handle them effectively.




This is the best article I've read in a long time, thanks! It just let me pat myself on the back knowing that I'm doing a great job discipling my son while he goes through some hard times of being a 2yr old. I've always felt the most important thing is for me to know who he is and what he can handle- it's all about learning.

disciplining children

The one thing I feel is the most difficult in disciplining children is staying calm. I haven't found the answer for it yet...

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