1-Sentence-Summary: No-Drama Discipline is a refreshing approach to parenting that looks at the neuroscience of a developing child’s brain to understand how to best discipline and teach kids while making them feel loved.
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We all want to be the best parents we can be for our kids, but it isn’t until you actually have kids that you realize how hard parenting is. Children are very individual and have different needs. You will find yourself getting all kinds of conflicting advice on how to parent. No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind takes a whole-brained approach to parenting based on neuroscience. It explains how to best discipline in a way that teaches and nurtures your child.
David J. Siegel, psychiatrist, and Tina Bryson, social worker and specialist in child psychotherapy, come together in this parenting guide to help nurture your child by understanding their developing brain. Though the title has the word ‘discipline’ they emphasize that shouldn’t be synonymous with punishment. When you trade suffering for teaching moments, you can nurture your child and build your relationship with them.
Here are 3 of the best lessons from this book:
- Due to the brain’s ability to change, misbehavior is actually a teaching and growing opportunity.
- Connection, not punishment, prepares the brain to receive feedback.
- Don’t lecture, search for the why behind misbehavior and stay positive.
To teach them best, we need to understand how a child’s brain works, so let’s jump in!
Lesson 1: Take the opportunity to teach your child when they misbehave.
First, we need to make sure we separate discipline from punishment. We do this by making sure our disciplining is proactive rather than reactive. When our go-to is time outs our spanking, this only creates resentment and fear, which isn’t good for parent or child. Instead, we learn to use the magical parenting tool that is “connect and redirect.” First, we take time to connect with our child, then redirect them to the correct the behavior.
Remember last time you blew up over something small because you were tired? That same regulatory part of your brain that was compromised because of a lack of sleep is still developing in your child. However, we have the opportunity, because a kid’s brain isn’t fully developed, to nurture and shape it.
Everyone has what the authors call the “downstairs” brain, or the part of the mind that controls basic needs such as digestion and breathing. Our “upstairs” brain is responsible for empathy and emotion. In a child, the upstairs brain is still developing, and thanks to neuroplasticity-our brain changing as a result of experiences-we can help children learn to use it more often. The mind is capable of evolving. Because of this, teaching your children instead of punishing them will always be the most effective form of discipline.
Lesson 2: Connect, rather than punish, so that the brain can receive feedback.
If you want to discipline your child effectively, you need a loving relationship. The key to developing that love is getting your kid in a receptive state of mind by connecting with them.
Your 3-year-old sees a sucker at the grocery store checkout stand, and you say “No, not today.” The toddler goes into full-on meltdown mode on the floor of the grocery store. People are watching, and now you’re not sure if you should give her the sucker to get her quiet or stand your ground to teach a lesson.
So what do we do in situations like this? First thing, don’t dismiss the child’s feelings, no matter how silly they seem. Withholding empathy will make them feel misunderstood and only make things worse. Find a way to connect. Comforting them and acknowledging their feelings will encourage them to cooperate with you, and engage the upstairs brain. However, some kids will take more time to calm down, so allow them this time, even an entire day if necessary. The more you make time to connect, the more they will feel loved.
Lesson 3: Search for the “why” and be sure to stay positive while refraining from lecturing.
Sometimes as parents our automatic response to misbehavior is to scold or lecture. But what kids really need is someone who will try to understand them. If you want to redirect them, children need to feel understood. Rather than just telling them to stop “or else,” try seeking out why they are doing something and dig deeper for a reason. Once you figure out the reason for the misbehavior, it will be a lot easier to redirect them.
Positivity is also key. Instead of saying things like, “brush your teeth now, or I won’t read you any books,” try saying “if you don’t brush your teeth soon, we won’t have time to read any books before bed.” Positive statements are far more likely to encourage cooperation from your child. Keep in mind when disciplining that the way you treat your child is an example to them of how they should treat others.
In addition to positivity, remember that kids are a lot like us-they don’t like to be lectured! If your daughter is spending too much time with sports to do her homework, try not to rant about how she needs to get good grades to go to college. Help her be part of the conversation, and ask her what she thinks would help give her more time. Redirect in the least amount of words possible, have the child reflect on their behavior. The more they can do this, the more they will be able to understand the connection between the way their actions affect others.
No-Drama Discipline Review
No-Drama Discipline gives a fascinating look into the developing mind of young children. It contains many relatable examples of how to handle the conflicts that come with raising kids. The advice is totally doable and helps turn discipline into a positive teaching experience instead of the part of parenting that most parents dread.
Who would I recommend the No-Drama Discipline summary to?
The 36-year-old mother who can’t seem to find any way to get her kids to listen to her, a 40-year-old school teacher with a rowdy class that they aren’t sure how to calm down, and anyone with an interest in psychology.