The 10 best habits of peaceful parents

When it comes to disciplining your child, self-discipline is the goal.

The 10 best habits of peaceful parents
“One generation full of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world.”
—Charles Raison

A parent’s goal is to help their child feel good and act better. If you're wondering whether practicing peaceful parenting instead of punishment at your house is a good idea, the short answer is that punishment undermines your relationship with your child, makes kids feel worse about themselves (which makes them act worse) and sabotages your child's development of self-discipline.

When a parent loves the child unconditionally, rather than using love withdrawal or other techniques to control and manipulate the child with punishment or rewards, they see themselves as a coach, offering the child loving guidance so the child learns to manage emotion, and therefore behavior.


These are the 10 peaceful parenting habits to practice in your own family—

1. Peaceful parenting starts with regulating your own emotions...

...So that you can be the patient, emotionally generous parent you aspire to be—and that every child deserves.

2. Evaluate all teaching based on whether it strengthens or weakens your relationship with your child.

The parent prioritizes maintaining and strengthening the parent-child connection, which is the only reason children cooperate.

The most effective discipline strategy is having a close bond with your child. Kids who feel connected to their parents naturally want to please them. Think loving guidance, not punishment.

Punishment is destructive to your relationship with your child and ultimately creates more misbehavior. Loving guidance is setting limits and reinforcing expectations as necessary, but in an empathic way that helps the child focus on improving their behavior rather than on being angry at you.

3. Start all correction by reaffirming the connection.

Remember that children misbehave when they feel bad about themselves and disconnected from us.

  • Stoop down to their level and look them in the eye, "You want your brother to move, so you pushed him. No pushing; pushing hurts! Tell your brother, 'Move please.'"
  • Pick them up, "You wish you could play longer but it's time for bed."
  • Make loving eye contact, "You are so upset right now."
  • Put your hand on her shoulder, "You're scared to tell me about the cookie."

4. Don't hesitate to set limits as necessary, but set them with empathy.

Of course, you need to enforce your rules. But you can also acknowledge their perspective. When kids feel understood, they're more able to accept our limits. You can use phrases like:

"You’re very very mad and hurt, but we don’t bite. Let’s use your words to tell your brother how you feel."

"You wish you could play longer, but it's bedtime. I know that makes you sad."

"You don't want Mommy to say no, but the answer is no. We don't say 'shut up' to each other, but it's ok to be sad and mad."

"You are scared, but we always tell the truth to each other."

5. In any situation posing physical danger, intervene immediately to set limits, but simultaneously connect by empathizing.

You can say something like, "The rule is no hitting. You can tell your sister what you want and how you feel without attacking her."

6. Defiance is always a relationship problem.

If your child does not accept your direction ("I don't care what you say, you can't make me!"), it's always an indication that the relationship is not strong enough to support the teaching.

This happens to all of us from time to time.

At that point, stop and think about how to strengthen the relationship, not how to make the child mind. Turning the situation into a power struggle will just deepen the rift between you.

7. Avoid Timeouts. They create more misbehavior.

Timeouts, while infinitely better than hitting your child, are just another version of punishment by banishment and humiliation.

They leave kids alone to manage their tangled emotions, so they undermine emotional intelligence.

They erode, rather than strengthen, your relationship with your child.

They set up a power struggle.

They only work while you're bigger.

They're a more humane form of bullying than physical discipline.

8. Consequences teach the wrong lesson if you're involved in creating them.

On the face of it, consequences make sense: The child does—or doesn't do—something, and learns from the consequences. Which, when it happens naturally, can be a terrific learning experience. But most of the time parents engineer the consequences, so that any child can explain to you that consequences are actually punishment.

If the parent is not involved in the consequences—for instance, if they don't study and flunk their test, or they don't brush and get a cavity—and if you can handle the bad result, kids can learn a lot from suffering the consequences of their actions.

Of course, you don't want it to happen more than once, or their self-image becomes that of a person who flunks the test and gets cavities, and they have learned an unintended lesson.

My own view is that it works better, if possible, for them to skip such lessons, but as a last-ditch strategy, we all certainly learn from letting things go wrong.

Unfortunately, most kids whose parents use consequences as punishment, don't think of them as the natural result of their own actions (i.e. I forgot my lunch today so I was hungry), but as the threats they hear through their parents' clenched teeth, "If I have to stop this car and come back there, there will be consequences!"

If parents are in charge of consequences, then the consequences aren't the natural result of the child's actions, but simply punishment. To the degree that consequences are seen as punishment by kids—and they almost always are—they are not as effective as positive discipline to encourage good behavior. Using them on your kids should be considered a last result and a signal that you need to come up with another strategy.

9. What you think and feel is more important than what you say in how your child responds.

Kids will do almost anything we request if we make the request with a loving heart. Find a way to say yes instead of no, even while you set your limit. "Yes, it's time to clean up, and yes I will help you, and yes we can leave your tower up, and yes you can growl about it, and yes if we hurry we can read an extra story, and yes we can make this fun, and yes I adore you, and yes how did I get so lucky to be your parent? Yes!"

Your child will respond with the generosity of spirit that matches yours.

10. How you treat your child is how she will learn to treat herself.

If you're harsh with them, they’ll be harsh with themselves. If you're loving with them, while firm about setting appropriate limits, they’ll develop the ability to set firm but loving limits on their own behavior.

Harsh discipline and punishment, ironically, interfere with the child's ability to develop self-discipline. The problem with internalizing harshness isn't just that it makes for unhappy kids and, eventually, unhappy adults, it's that it doesn't work. Kids who are given discipline that is not loving never learn to manage themselves constructively.

To the degree that we're harsh with ourselves because of the way we were parented, we respond to it by rebelling (how many times do we cheat on our diets?), martyring ourselves (trying hard to be good girls and boys but building up resentment and lashing out at those we love), or not giving ourselves a break and ultimately breaking down.

To the degree that we can accept our own loving guidance because we've learned from our parents to treat ourselves that way, we are able to set goals and use our self discipline to attain them.

Ultimately, loving guidance and positive parenting result in the child's developing the holy grail toward which all child raising is aimed: the child's own self-discipline.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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