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Stress-Free Parenting?

What’s Your Response to Chaos – Discipline or Punishment?

Dear me! You say there’s chaos in your home? You also say that you are frustrated by your family’s dynamics because whatever you are doing doesn’t seem to be working? I can only imagine how stressed you feel when there is turmoil. I’ve been there. I hear your desire for a different experience of being a family.

In today’s world parents face additional challenges. Because of the pandemic, children are often crankier than usual because of changes and the lack of stability. Their normal routine of school, extracurricular activities and time with their friends doesn’t exist. Parents are stressed by their immediate daily concerns about how they’re going to meet all the new expectations thrust upon them. In the face of this overwhelming stress, mothers’ and fathers’ knee-jerk reactions are more likely to criticize, shame or punish their children than to support, encourage, and uplift them.

I have a big heart for parents and grandparents who are raising children in this topsy-turvy world. Through years of experience raising my own four children, teaching English at the 9th grade level and observing families in a variety of professional capacities, I have learned techniques that will help you ease the tension in your home and contribute to your ability to have a happy, peaceful, loving family.

Have you ever stopped to think about the difference between discipline and punishment? How do you react or respond to yourself, your partner, and your children when things go sideways? Do you think in terms of discipline or punishment? Do you find that you more quickly criticize or do you create connection? Even though most of us want meaningful structure in our homes, sometimes we get caught in the trap of being someone who criticizes more than encourages. An understanding of the difference between discipline and punishment may help you ease the tensions within your family.

Discipline, as in rules and guidelines, is consistent, clear, and loving and sets an intention that results in cooperation and a positive outcome for all concerned. Discipline arises from a place of calm forethought and thoughtfulness and from a respect for yourself and others so that everyone wins! The amazing outcome of deliberate, conscious actions or decisions leads the way to positive solutions. Discipline is proactive. Neither adults nor children learn positive discipline through punishment. Discipline for ourselves and for our children is necessary for the creation of a family that respects and supports the personal growth and development of each member.

Punishment, on the other hand, comes rather from the fear that emanates from within us when we feel we are losing control of a situation or a person. Punishment is typically spontaneous, inconsistent and related more to the emotions of the punisher rather than to person who ‘misbehaved’. Punishment can look like a threat, a bribe, or a shaming of ourselves or another. Punishment expects everyone to get it right and to do so quickly with no mistakes allowed. Punishment is painful and hurtful because it focuses on what one did or didn’t do and not the solution. In the end everyone loses. The false thinking here is that if the punishment is bad enough, the mistake will not be made again.


Today I invite you to simply observe how you react and/or respond when chaos is present.

  • Do you blame yourself for how your children are behaving?

  • Do you punish yourself with self- critical thoughts about how you are responding or reacting in situation?

  • Do you put yourself down silently or aloud?

  • Do you go to your heart to find ways to create structure and success for yourself and others?

  • Do you go to your heart to seek answers on what you can do to de-escalate the stress and tension in the moment?

  • Observe your words and behaviors directed toward your partner and your children?

  • What did you learn by observing yourself in a stressful situation?

  • What did you learn about how you approach problems and challenges?

  • What might you do in the future?

  • BREATHE and be gentle with yourself.

If you are stumped by any of these questions, you can always schedule your fist FREE Parent Discovery Session!

Stay tuned for Part II

I recommend:

Author, Dr. Becky Bailey Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline

Author, Dr. Laura Markham Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

Be Gentle,


Parent Coach

Editor, Karen Diehl


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