NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER · The pioneering experts behind The Whole-Brain Child and The Yes Brain tackle the ultimate parenting challenge: discipline.
“A lot of fascinating insights . . . an eye-opener worth reading.”—Parents
Highlighting the fascinating link between a child’s neurological development and the way a parent reacts to misbehavior, No-Drama Discipline provides an effective, compassionate road map for dealing with tantrums, tensions, and tears—without causing a scene.
Defining the true meaning of the “d” word (to instruct, not to shout or reprimand), the authors explain how to reach your child, redirect emotions, and turn a meltdown into an opportunity for growth. By doing so, the cycle of negative behavior (and punishment) is essentially brought to a halt, as problem solving becomes a win/win situation. Inside this sanity-saving guide you’ll discover
· strategies that help parents identify their own discipline philosophy—and master the best methods to communicate the lessons they are trying to impart
· facts on child brain development—and what kind of discipline is most appropriate and constructive at all ages and stages
· the way to calmly and lovingly connect with a child—no matter how extreme the behavior—while still setting clear and consistent limits
· tips for navigating your child through a tantrum to achieve insight, empathy, and repair
· twenty discipline mistakes even the best parents make—and how to stay focused on the principles of whole-brain parenting and discipline techniques
Complete with candid stories and playful illustrations that bring the authors’ suggestions to life, No-Drama Discipline shows you how to work with your child’s developing mind, peacefully resolve conflicts, and inspire happiness and strengthen resilience in everyone in the family.
Praise for No-Drama Discipline
“With lucid, engaging prose accompanied by cartoon illustrations, Siegel and Bryson help parents teach and communicate more effectively.”—Publishers Weekly
“Wow! This book grabbed me from the very first page and did not let go.”—Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., author of The Opposite of Worry
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Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, the founding co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and executive director of the Mindsight institute. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Siegel is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestseller Brainstorm and the bestsellers Mindsight, Parenting from the Inside Out (with Mary Hartzell), and The Whole-Brain Child (with Tina Payne Bryson). Also the author of the internationally acclaimed professional texts The Mindful Brain and The Developing Mind, Dr. Siegel keynotes conferences and conducts workshops worldwide. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife.
Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., is the co-author (with Dan Siegel) of the bestselling The Whole-Brain Child, which has been translated into eighteen languages. She is a pediatric and adolescent psychotherapist, the director of parenting for the Mindsight Institute, and the child development specialist at Saint Mark’s School in Altadena, California. She keynotes conferences and conducts workshops for parents, educators, and clinicians all over the world. Dr. Bryson earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, and she lives near Los Angeles with her husband and three children.
Siegel / NO-DRAMA DISCIPLINE
Here are some actual statements we’ve heard from parents we’ve worked with. Do any of them resonate with you?
Do these comments sound familiar? So many parents feel like this. They want to handle things well when their kids are struggling to do the right thing, but more often than not, they end up simply reacting to a situation, rather than working from a clear set of principles and strategies. They shift into autopilot and give up control of their more intentional parenting decisions.
Autopilot may be a great tool when you’re flying a plane. Just flip the switch, sit back and relax, and let the computer take you where it’s been preprogrammed to go. But when it comes to disciplining children, working from a preprogrammed autopilot isn’t so great. It can fly us straight into whatever dark and stormy cloud bank is looming, meaning parents and kids alike are in for a bumpy ride.
Instead of being reactive, we want to be responsive to our kids. We want to be intentional and make conscious decisions based on principles we’ve thought about and agreed on beforehand. Being intentional means considering various options and then choosing the one that engages a thoughtful approach toward our intended outcomes. For No-Drama Discipline, this means the short-term external outcome of behavioral boundaries and structure and the long- term internal outcome of teaching life skills.
Let’s say, for example, your four-year-old hits you. Maybe he’s angry because you told him you needed to finish an email before you could play Legos with him, and he responded by slapping you on the back. (It’s always surprising, isn’t it, that a person that small can inflict so much pain?)
What do you do? If you’re on autopilot, not working from a specific philosophy for how to handle misbehavior, you might simply react immediately without much reflection or intention. Maybe you’d grab him, possibly harder than you should, and tell him through clenched teeth, “Hitting is not OK!” Then you might give him some sort of consequence, maybe marching him to his room for a time-out.
Is this the worst possible parental reaction? No, it’s not. But could it be better? Definitely. What’s needed is a clear understanding of what you actually want to accomplish when your child misbehaves.
That’s the overall goal of this chapter, to help you understand the importance of working from an intentional philosophy and having a clear and consistent strategy for responding to misbehavior. As we said in the introduction, the dual goals of discipline are to promote good external behavior in the short term and build the internal structure of the brain for better behavior and relationship skills in the long term. Keep in mind that discipline is ultimately about teaching. So when you clench your teeth, spit out a rule, and give a consequence, is that going to be effective in teaching your child about hitting?
Well, yes and no. It might achieve the short-term effect of getting him not to hit you. Fear and punishment can be effective in the moment, but they don’t work over the long term. And are fear, punishment, and drama really what we want to use as primary motivators of our children? If so, we teach that power and control are the best tools to get others to do what we want them to do.
Again, it’s completely normal to just react when we get angry, especially when someone inflicts physical or emotional pain on us. But there are better responses, responses that can achieve the same short-term goal of reducing the likelihood of the unwanted behavior in the future, while also building skills. So rather than just fearing your response and inhibiting an impulse in the future, your child will undergo a learning experience that creates an internal skill beyond simply an association of fear. And all of this learning can occur while reducing the drama in the interaction and strengthening your connection with your child.
Let’s talk about how you can respond to make discipline less of a fear-creating reaction and more of a skill-building response on your part.
The Three Questions: Why? What? How?
Before you respond to misbehavior, take a moment to ask yourself three simple questions:
1. Why did my child act this way? In our anger, our answer might be “Because he’s a spoiled brat” or “Because he’s trying to push my buttons!” But when we approach with curiosity instead of assumptions, looking deeper at what’s going on behind a particular misbehavior, we can often understand that our child was trying to express or attempt something but simply didn’t handle it appropriately. If we understand this, we ourselves can respond more effectively—and compassionately.
2. What lesson do I want to teach in this moment? Again, the goal of discipline isn’t to give a consequence. We want to teach a lesson—whether it’s about self-control, the importance of sharing, acting responsibly, or anything else.
3. How can I best teach this lesson? Considering a child’s age and developmental stage, along with the context of the situation (did he realize the bullhorn was switched on before he raised it to the dog’s ear?), how can we most effectively communicate what we want to get across? Too often, we respond to misbehavior as if consequences were the goal of discipline. Sometimes natural consequences result from a child’s decision, and the lesson is taught without our needing to do much. But there are usually more effective and loving ways to help our kids understand what we’re trying to communicate than to immediately hand out one-size-fits-all consequences.
By asking ourselves these three questions—why, what, and how—when our children do something we don’t like, we can more easily shift out of autopilot mode. That means we’ll be much more likely to respond in a way that’s effective in stopping the behavior in the short term while also teaching bigger, long-lasting life lessons and skills that build character and prepare kids for making good decisions in the future.
Let’s look more closely at how these three questions might help us respond to the four-year-old who slaps you while you’re emailing. When you hear the smack and feel the tiny, hand-shaped imprint of pain on your back, it may take you a moment to calm down and avoid simply reacting. It’s not always easy, is it? In fact, our brains are programmed to interpret physical pain as a threat, which activates the neural circuitry that can make us more reactive and put us in a “fight” mode. So it takes some effort, sometimes intense effort, to maintain control and practice No-Drama Discipline. We have to override our primitive reactive brain when this happens. Not easy. (By the way, this gets much harder to do if we’re sleep deprived, hungry, overwhelmed, or not prioritizing self-care.) This pause between reactive and responsive is the beginning of choice, intention, and skillfulness as a parent.
So as quickly as possible, you want to try to pause and ask yourself the three questions. Then you can see much more clearly what’s going on in your interaction with your child. Every situation is different and depends on many different factors, but the answers to the questions might look something like this:
1. Why did my child act this way? He hit you because he wanted your attention and wasn’t getting it. Sounds pretty typical for a four-year-old, doesn’t it? Desirable? No. Developmentally appropriate? Absolutely. It’s hard for a child this age to wait, and big feelings surfaced, making it even harder. He’s not yet old enough to consistently calm himself effectively or quickly enough to prevent acting out. You wish he’d just soothe himself and with composure declare, “Mom, I’m feeling frustrated that you’re asking me to keep waiting, and I’m having a strong, aggressive impulse to hit you right now—but I have chosen not to and am using my words instead.” But that’s not going to happen. (It would be pretty funny if it did.) In that moment, hitting is your son’s default strategy for expressing his big feelings of frustration and impatience, and he needs some time and skill-building practice to learn how to handle both delaying gratification and appropriately managing anger. That’s why he hit you.
That feels much less personal, doesn’t it? Our kids don’t usually lash out at us because they’re simply rude, or because we’re failures as parents. They usually lash out because they don’t yet have the capacity to regulate their emotional states and control their impulses. And they feel safe enough with us to know that they won’t lose our love, even when they’re at their worst. In fact, when a four-year-old doesn’t hit and acts “perfect” all the time, we have concerns about the child’s bond with his parent. When children are securely attached to their parents, they feel safe enough to test that relationship. In other words, your child’s misbehavior is often a sign of his trust and safety with you. Many parents notice that their children “save it all up for them,” behaving much better at school or with other adults than they do at home. This is why. These flare-ups are often signs of safety and trust, rather than just some form of rebellion.
2. What lesson do I want to teach in this moment? The lesson is not that misbehavior merits a consequence, but that there are better ways of getting your attention and managing his anger than resorting to violence. You want him to learn that hitting isn’t OK, and that there are lots of appropriate ways to express his big feelings.
3. How can I best teach this lesson? While giving him a time-out or some other unrelated consequence might or might not make your son think twice next time about hitting, there’s a better alternative. What if you connected with him by pulling him to you and letting him know he has your full attention? Then you could acknowledge his feelings and model how to communicate those emotions: “It’s hard to wait. You really want me to play, and you’re mad that I’m at the computer. Is that right?” Most likely you’ll receive an angry “Yes!” in response. That’s not a bad thing; he’ll know he has your attention. And you’ll have his, too. You can now talk with him and, as he becomes calmer and better able to listen, get eye contact, explain that hitting is never all right, and talk about some alternatives he could choose—like using his words to express his frustration—the next time he wants your attention.
This approach works with older kids as well. Let’s look at one of the most common issues faced by parents everywhere: homework battles. Imagine that your nine-year-old is seriously struggling when it’s time to study, and you two are going round and round on a regular basis. At least once a week she melts down. She gets so frustrated she ends up in tears, yelling at you and calling her teachers “mean” for assigning such difficult homework and herself “stupid” for having trouble. After these proclamations she buries her face in the crook of her arm and collapses in a puddle of tears on the table.
For a parent, this situation can be every bit as maddening as being slapped on the back by a four-year-old. An autopilot response would be to give in to the frustration and, in the heat of anger, argue with your daughter and lecture her, blaming her for managing her time poorly and not listening well enough during class. You’re probably familiar with the “If you had started earlier, when I asked you to, you’d be done by now” lecture. We’ve never heard of a kid responding to that lecture with “You’re right, Dad. I really should have started when you asked. I’ll take responsibility for not beginning when I was supposed to, and I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll just jump right on my homework earlier tomorrow. Thanks for enlightening me on this.”
Instead of the lecture, what if you asked the why-what-how questions?
1. Why did my child act this way? Again, disciplinary approaches are going to change depending on who your child is and what her personality is like. Maybe homework is a struggle for her and she feels frustrated, like it’s a battle she can never win. Maybe there’s something about it that feels too hard or overwhelming and makes her feel bad about herself, or maybe she’s just needing more physical activity. The main feelings here could be frustration and helplessness.
Or maybe school isn’t usually that tough for her, but she melted down because she’s tired and feeling overwhelmed today. She got up early, went to school for six hours, then had a Girl Scouts meeting that lasted right up to dinnertime. Now that she’s eaten, she’s supposed to sit at the kitchen table and work on fractions for forty-five minutes? No wonder she’s freaking out a bit. That’s a lot to ask of a nine-year-old (or even an adult!). That doesn’t mean she doesn’t still need to do her homework, but it can change your perspective—and your response—when you realize where she’s coming from.
2. What lesson do I want to teach in this moment? It might be that you want to teach about effective time management and responsibility. Or about making choices regarding which activities to participate in. Or about how to handle frustration more adaptively.
3. How can I best teach this lesson? However you answer question 2, a lecture when she’s already upset definitely isn’t the best approach. This isn’t a teachable moment, because the emotional, reactive parts of her brain are raging, overwhelming the more calm, rational, thinking, and receptive parts of her brain. So instead, you might want to help her with her fractions and just get through this particular crisis: “I know it’s a lot tonight and you’re tired. You can do this. I’ll sit with you and we’ll knock it out.” Then once she’s calmed down and you two are sharing a bowl of ice cream—or maybe even the next day—you can discuss whether she’s overscheduled, or consider that she’s really struggling to understand a concept, or explore the possibility that she’s talking with friends in class and bringing home unfinished classwork, meaning she ends up with more homework. Ask her questions, and problem-solve together to figure out what’s going on. Ask what’s getting in the way of completing her homework, why she thinks it’s not working well, and what her suggestions would be. Look at the whole experience as an opportunity to collaborate on improving the homework experience. She might need some help building skills for coming up with solutions, but involve her in the process as much as possible.
Remember to pick a time when you’re both in a good, receptive state of mind, then begin by saying something like, “The homework situation isn’t working very well, is it? I bet we can find a better way. What do you think might work?” (By the way, we’ll give you lots of specific, practical suggestions to help with this type of conversation in Chapter 6, where we discuss No-Drama redirection strategies.)
Different kids will require different responses to the why-what-how questions, so we’re not saying that any of these specific answers will necessarily apply to your children at a given time. The point is to look at discipline in a new way, to rethink it. Then you can be guided by an overall philosophy when you interact with your kids, rather than simply reacting with whatever pops out when your kids do something you don’t like. Why-what-how questions give us a new way of moving from reactive parenting to receptive and intentional Whole-Brain parenting strategies.
Granted, you won’t always have time to think through the three questions. When good-natured wrestling in the living room turns into a bloody cage match, or when you have young twins who ...
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Book Description Bantam, 2014. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. New with remainder mark. Bookseller Inventory # 1701180491
Book Description Penguin Random House LLC, 2014. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. The pioneering experts behind the bestselling The Whole-Brain Child now explore the ultimate child-raising challenge: discipline. Highlighting the fascinating link between a child?s neurological development and the way a parent reacts to misbehavior, No-Drama Discipline provides an effective, compassionate road map for dealing with tantrums, tensions, and tears?without causing a scene. Defining the true meaning of the "D" word (to instruct, not to shout or reprimand), the authors explain how to reach your child, redirect emotions, and turn a meltdown into an opportunity for growth. By doing so, the cycle of negative behavior (and punishment) is essentially brought to a halt, as problem solving becomes a win/win situation. Inside this sanity-saving guide you?ll discover. :: strategies that help parents identify their own discipline philosophy?and master the best methods to communicate the lessons they are trying to impart :: acts on brain development?and what kind of discipline is most appropriate and constructive at all ages and stages :: the way to calmly connect with and communicate love for a child?no matter how extreme the behavior?while still setting clear and consistent limits :: tips for navigating through the storm to achieve insight, empathy, and repair with your children :: twenty discipline mistakes even great parents make?and how to stay focused on the principles of whole-brain parenting and discipline techniques Complete with candid parenting stories and playful illustrations that bring the authors' suggestions to life, No-Drama Discipline shows you how to work with your child?s developing mind, peacefully resolve conflicts, and inspire happiness and strengthen resilience in everyone in the family. "Using simple and clear explanations, practical advice, and cartoons that make the how-to guidance come alive, this book is a rich resource for families trying to navigate meltdowns and misunderstandings. It explains how neurobiology drives children?s infuriating and puzzling behavior and will help parents make their way through the trenches of a typical day with grace, mutual respect, and a good helping of delight."?Wendy Mogel, PhD, author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee "What a relief! Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson take the difficulty out of discipline, for parents or anyone who has to help kids behave. No-Drama Discipline offers a research-based, commonsense approach that any grown-up will be happy to use, and any kid will benefit from."?Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence. Bookseller Inventory # 28668
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