In this groundbreaking book, parenting expert and acclaimed author of the bestselling book Simplicity Parenting Kim John Payne, M.Ed., flips the script on children’s challenging or defiant behavior and lays out an elegantly simple plan to support parents in establishing loving, age-sensitive boundaries that help children feel safe and settled. In short: What looks like misbehavior is actually your children’s signal that they’re feeling lost, that they are trying to find direction and looking to you to guide them back on course.
Payne gives parents heartwarming help and encouragement by combining astute observations with sensitive and often funny stories from his long career as a parent educator and a school and family counselor. In accessible language, he explains the relevance of current brain- and child-development studies to day-to-day parenting. Breaking the continuum of childhood into three stages, Payne says that parents need to play three different roles, each corresponding to one of those stages, to help steer children through their emotional growth and inevitable challenging times:
• The Governor, who is comfortably and firmly in charge—setting limits and making decisions for the early years up to around the age of eight
• The Gardener, who watches for emotional growth and makes decisions based on careful listening, assisting tweens in making plans that take the whole family’s needs into account
• The Guide, who is both a sounding board and moral compass for emerging adults, helping teens build a sense of their life’s direction as a way to influence healthy decision making
Practical and rooted in common sense, The Soul of Discipline gives parents permission to be warm and nurturing but also calm and firm (not overreactive). It gives clear, doable strategies to get things back on track for parents who sense that their children’s behavior has fallen into a troubling pattern. And best of all, it provides healthy direction to the entire family so parents can spend less time and energy on outmoded, punitive discipline and more on connecting with and enjoying their kids.
Advance praise for The Soul of Discipline
“The Soul of Discipline offers practical tools for helping parents implement discipline that’s respectful and effective, but the book is so much more. Kim John Payne offers a framework to guide parents in making decisions about why, when, and how to hold tighter reins as we build skills in our children, and why, when, and how to loosen the reins as we scaffold freedom.”—Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., co-author of No-Drama Discipline
“This book gets deep inside the challenge of getting along with children and teens and thinks deeply about what they need from us to become strong and self-managing. It elevates discipline to what it should be—a caring process of helping kids orient to the world and live in it happily and well.”—Steve Biddulph, author of The New Manhood
“Kim Payne provides a useful model for choosing our parenting stance—Governor, Gardener, or Guide—depending on the situation. Most powerfully, Payne begins with the radical view that children are not disobedient but rather disoriented. The upshot of this shift in perspective is that discipline is about helping children orient themselves effectively, not about controlling or chastising.”—Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., author of Playful Parenting