Creative Discipline 101: Booklist

As a Developmental Psychologist I felt like discipline should come very easily to me (even if I'm not especially disciplined myself), but the reality of motherhood was actually very different. Even after I felt like I had really honed my skills on the first child, it turned out that she was a cupcake compared to her brother, who is happy to openly defy every rule and throw it in your face the minute he gets an opportunity (and relying on his impish, dimpled smile to get him out of trouble). Over time, though, I've figured a few things out--owing more to my creativity than any skill as a Developmental Psychologist--and I'll be sharing these ideas over the next few weeks.

First, the books. I'm a big reader and researcher. When I have a question I order a pile of books, skim through them, take notes, and really dig into the good ones. I had some ideas going into parenthood that I really didn't want to sacrifice. Namely, I did not want to discipline my children physically (e.g. spanking or slapping), I felt that it was important that they understand the 'why' behind rules, and I wanted to think of discipline less as a punishment-based strategy where I bossed the kids around and more as teaching the children to be disciplined in their actions. Lofty ideals, I know, and I've lost sight of them a few times, but all-told, I think I've found a good equilibrium, and these books really helped me get on track.

Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years: Admittedly, this is not a very pretty book, but it's an absolute goldmine of good parenting ideas. The basic concept of Love and Logic is to give children a good deal of control by giving them reasonable choices, and letting them fail sometimes (and accept the natural consequences). For example: cold weather strikes, child won't wear a jacket. That's their choice (jacket or no jacket. you decide.), and it won't hurt them to get a bit chilly. Take the coat along, they'll come to understand that they're cold and put the jacket on (or not, and they'll still be cold, but it's their choice, and will likely put the jacket on next time). If I could only have one book in my personal library this would be it.

New First Three Years of Life: Completely Revised and Updated: This would be the second book in my library and is full of utterly practical, realistic advice on raising children. His other book, Raising a Happy, Unspoiled Child, is also excellent and perhaps more straightforward. It goes age by age to get you started on the right foot and to help you teach your child to be happy and self-entertained rather than constantly demanding your attentions. Although it doesn't offer a whole lot in the way of disciplinary tactics from a remedial standpoint, it really falls under the category of teaching children to be disciplined.

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too: I got this book and read it cover to cover before our second was born. I patted myself on the back thinking that I would never have these sorts of troubles, and that I'd just keep the book on the shelf. Wrong, obviously. It's easy to read with lots of helpful anecdotes and cute little comic strips, and provides incredibly practical, effective advice to apply right away. Basic things that you'll feel like you should've been able to figure out like not breaking up your kids' arguments for them and not comparing them.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: While this isn't a discipline book per se, it's become very clear to me that a grouchy, overtired kid is bound to be the wild terror in the family (speaking from experience). This book provides clear advice from birth on up to help your child get an adequate amount of sleep, including dealing with night terrors and scary dreams, special needs, and new siblings.

Other great choices:

Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool

Positive Discipline

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (123 Magic)

Parenting With Love And Logic (Updated and Expanded Edition)

Next up: 102: Rules @ the Kiddio House

What parenting books/ideas do you love? I'd love to hear your tips!
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