Frustrated About Discipline? It’s Time to Fix It, Once and For All…

Love kids, hate discipline?You know, every parent I know loves good behavior, but hates discipline.

How about you?

Do you love your little angels, but hate the drama and the stress that inevitably bubbles up when they misbehave and you are the one with the unenviable task of setting them straight?

What if we could keep the good behavior, but eliminate the stress and drama associated with discipline?

It’s not a wild-eyed fantasy or a pipe dream. If you are a part of our A Fine Parent Community for long enough, you know we’re all about research-backed, practical action-taking.

What say, we apply that same spirit to discipline?

Feel up for a little challenge?

Introducing Project: Discipline Without Drama

mothers_day_fathers_day_dates_2014See, every year the 2nd Sunday of May is celebrated as Mother’s Day. There are some cute gifts from the kids and… that’s about it. After the sweet moment has passed, they go back to their antics, and we get back to nagging and screaming, or quietly seething.

Exactly 5 weeks down the line, on the 3rd Sunday of June, comes Father’s Day. Again we have a few cute gifts and then, it’s back to square one.

Two days that are sweet and cute for a few moments, and then… business as usual.

What say we nix that and make Mother’s Day and Father’s Day of this year unforgettable?

What say we take on a little community challenge during the 5-Week period between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, that will keep on giving dividends all through the year, or for a lifetime for that matter?

Putting aside those cute little gifts your kids give you, as a mom or dad, what is the ONE gift you would truly love to have?

How about kids that just behave?

How about kids that mind what you say without whining, attitude, drama or back talk?

How about getting things done without having to nag, scream or use harsh punishment?

What if we could set the wheels turning on all that, and more, in those 5 little weeks between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day?

Would that make this year’s Mother’s/Father’s day unforgettable for you?

It’s Time For Our First Community Challenge!

In the past 7 months, this A Fine Parent Community has grown to 2,500+ parents strong. I’m not talking about the 35,000+ visitors who have stopped by to browse the site, or the 30,000+ parents who’ve liked our facebook page… I like all of them too, but my commitment is to you — the parents who have signed up to be a part of this slow and steady journey and return here more or less each week to skim/read the little doses of inspiration, nudge, knowledge and insights.

Together we’ve looked at several different ways to grow as parents.

And, together we have struggled to put some of it into action — with the biggest hurdle being issues related to “discipline”.

I know, because you’ve written to me to tell me very emotionally how you start out with great intention, but get caught up in the situation and revert back to your old ways. And how that frustrates you!

I know, because I am you and I do it too.

I’ve been wondering — How can we make sure that what we read is a part of how we act? How can we incorporate our knowledge in our lives so it becomes automatic action? How… ???

Project: Discipline Without DramaIt took me a while, but I may have the answer. How about a series of micro-challenges aimed at creating a few of the habits that make scream-free, nag-free, stress-free discipline second nature in our lives?

We’ll keep each micro-challenge intentionally very simple so it can fit into our schedules, no matter what crazy things we’re juggling at the moment.

Each micro-challenge will last just 3 or 4 days, and then we’ll move on to the next. We could take on one every Monday and Thursday between May 11th (Mother’s Day) and June 15th (Father’s Day)…. for a total of 10 micro-challenges.

Each micro-challenge will focus on just ONE micro-change.

Each micro-challenge will establish ONE habit of drama-free discipline.

Each micro-challenge will be hand-picked from one of the top parenting/psychology books.

Small changes, huge returns.

Sounds like something that might work, right?

Are you in?

The Rules

There are no rules.

Here are a couple of suggestions, though…

  • Take on the challenge with an accountability partner, if possible. Research has consistently shown that having an accountability partner improves the chances of success at any change effort — so buddy up with your spouse, best friend, colleague or that great parent you met at the PTA meeting!
  • Stick through till the end, no matter how you fare at each intermediate micro-challenge. Some micro-challenges, you’ll do great on. At other times, life will interfere. That’s OK. No matter how you do on any intermediate micro-challenge, when you receive the mail with the next micro-challenge, open it, and give it your best shot!

Challenge-wise, that’s it.

If you receive the AFineParent weekly emails already, you’re all set.

Just sit tight and watch out for the first micro-challenge in your mailbox a week from now… on Monday May 12th, the day after Mother’s Day.

(If you aren’t signed up for the weekly mails, please sign up here. The way the challenge posts are set up, they are only sent by mail and will not show in RSS feeds or the blog homepage.)

Now, If You Have a Few More Minutes to Spare, I Need Your Help…

A few years back, I didn’t know something called positive parenting or positive discipline existed. I had no idea that it was even possible to raise a child without nagging, screaming or punishment.

Things are very different in our home now. Not only is there a lot less drama and stress, I have such a deeply satisfying, happy relationship with my daughter. And instead of being a perpetual rebel, she is directing her energy into blossoming in so many wonderful ways — I couldn’t ask for more as a parent.

I believe it is possible for every single one of us to be that parent that we all want to be deep within our hearts – caring, nurturing, patient and infinitely supportive. Without it feeling like an obligation or a source of stress. Just purely second nature.

So, I’ve set a crazy goal.

I want to reach 10,000 families with this challenge.

A little crazy, I know. But worth striving for, don’t you think?

10,000 scream-free, nag-free, punishment-free families!Can you imagine how blissful it will be, if not just you, but your closest friends and family who have the biggest influence on you (and your kids!), are committed to stress-free discipline as well? Can you imagine how much easier it would be raising your kids when you’re surrounded by such like-minded parents?

I can’t reach all those parents by myself, though. Which is why, I need your help. If we can each reach out to a few of the parents we know, then with 2,500+ of us in this community now, surely, together we can reach 10,000 parents close to us?

So, start with those closest to you. Every one of us knows at least a few parents who struggle with discipline, and can use the gentle nudge and support from this community to get to a more stress-free place — invite them to take this challenge with you!

I’ve put together a page specifically for someone new to our community to understand what this challenge is about. It’s at the easy-to-remember URL AFineParent.Com/DisciplineWithoutDrama — mention it to your friends and family in your regular everyday conversations.

Or, grab your phone and text them about it – the shortened url for the challenge page is

Or use one of these links to spread the word –


Tell everyone on Twitter how proud you are to take on this challenge!

Pin the challenge to your favorite board on Pinterest.

Or share this viral tribute to moms on your facebook timeline, while at the same time inviting them to join the challenge!

And if you blog, announce to the world that you are taking on this challenge and charter your progress…

Shout it out from rooftops. No, just kidding. (Not really).

Anything you can do to get the word out helps. THANK YOU!

I’ve put a lot of effort into planning and putting together the videos (yep, a first — it was a big hurdle to cross, so please be kind if you notice the tremor in my voice! :)) for this challenge. I’m totally stoked about this. Let’s do it!

Here’s to scream-free, nag-free, stress-free, punishment-free us

Automate Fine Parenting

Great Parents are Made, Not Born. Join 18,000+ parents who receive articles like this for free, every Monday, directly in their mailbox. Simply enter your email below to get started -


  1. MomOfTwo says

    All set to participate :) looking forward for interesting tips. I have a request – Could you please share something about sibling fights as well. I mean my kids fight on every single thing.

    • ABCD says

      @MomOfTwo: I bullied my younger brother relentlessly growing up, and I can only say that the only things worse was my parents never stepping in. As adults, my brother and I both crash landed in marriage and career and our relationship with each other is permanently frayed. With the power of reflection, I wish my parents would have taught us the value of siblings (a partner, not an enemy). I wish they would have taught me the importance of teamwork and that we need to protect each other, not hurt each other in an already hurtful world.

      Of course, I may not have listened, but I really wish my parents didn’t just “let us boys be boys” and think “they’ll grow out of it”. Sounds like I’m blaming them, but I can’t blame someone for something they did their best at. (Well, I could, but I won’t).

      I have two of my own and my goal for them is that they know that they have to work together to face tough situations in life and how they treat each other will influence how much they can trust and rely on each other during tough times. They are too young to get it now, but I continue my efforts, will never give up, and most importantly I will continue to learn how to be better.

      Thanks for letting me post here. Your family is unique and some, all, or none of the above may apply to you and yours. I guess I wrote much of that for myself…

      • Sumitha Bhandarkar says

        @ABCD, Thanks for sharing your story. I think you are doing great with your kids. That’s all any of us can actually do… give our kids the best we can in any given moment, continue to become better at it as we go, and never give up!

        And I love your attitude about sharing some of your advice in the comment as well! Most often, what I write is a lot for myself too. Even this challenge series is to get myself back on track, since I felt like I was starting to go off the rails a bit. It’s such a wonderful thing that as parents we have so much in common that we can share some of our journeys together!

    • Sumitha Bhandarkar says

      @MomOfTwo, Sorry to hear that your kids fight so much… I can imagine how frustrating it must be for you. My sisters and I gave our parents a lot of grief growing up :)

      I’m not sure how I can focus specifically on sibling rivalry during this challenge series, but several of the challenges have the goal of creating a family culture rooted in treating each other with respect and kindness. Let me know if some of that helps. In the mean time, I’ll see if we can cover sibling rivalry in more depth in the coming months since several members of the AFP community have mentioned it at different times.

  2. Sara says

    Thanks for breaking down the parenting books into bite sized pieces. Super helpful to me as a working mom of 2.

    Re: this week’s challenge on natural or I-consequences – I like the suggestions and have actually ventured down this path before. Where I get stuck is when there doesn’t seem to be one of either. For example, it’s time to leave the park and my 4 1/2 year old wants to stay. The natural consequences seem to be that I’ll be frustrated and bedtime will be late. Neither of these matter to much to my little one. It also won’t phase her if I start to walk home (and I can’t follow through on that for safety reasons). So at that point, imposed consequences are what I’ve been using, “If you aren’t able to leave the park when it’s time, we won’t be able to come back to the park so close to bedtime next time.” I don’t find this particularly helpful because as a 4 year old, she’s much more concerned with the here and now than some future occurrence.

    I find this to be true with other undesirable behavior such as name-calling or yelling. The natural consequence again seems to be “It irritates momma!” And while I can step away into another room or refrain from engaging until she uses more appropriate communication, the reality is that she follows me around and often continues.

    I appreciate your thoughts!

    • Sumitha Bhandarkar says

      Hi Sara, So glad you are taking the challenge with us!

      Consequences (or for that matter, anything related to discipline) is tricky and what works for one family may not work for another. Here’s what we’ve done in similar situations and it has worked for us (my daughter is 5 1/2 years old now, but I’ve been using this for a while). You may need to tweak a bit to suit your family…

      – Before going to the park, I get down to my daughter’s level and tell her we can go only if we can get back at a certain time. Then I take out the cell phone and show her the time and say “We need to get back when the time on this says 6:45″.

      – Explain the reason why (in this case, natural consequences) — “If we don’t get back on time, bedtime will be delayed. That means neither of us will get enough sleep and rest. That makes us both cranky and agitated.”

      – Get her to agree to honor her end of the deal — “It’s my job as a mom to make sure that doesn’t happen. So will you promise me that if we go now, we’ll come back when I show you it’s time to leave?”

      – Sometimes she will tell me exactly what she needs to be able to honor her end of the deal — “Mommy, will you please remind me when there is 5 minutes left?”

      – In the park, sometime between 6:30 and 6:45 I start showing her the time on the cell phone and say “10 more minutes” or “8 more minutes”

      – If she heads back on time, great. The first few times, acknowledge it explicitly. “Yaay, we made it back in time. Now I feel like I can take you to park more often because I know I can trust you to keep a deal”.

      – If not, “We didn’t stick to our deal. We didn’t get back on time. We’ll try this one more time tomorrow (or whenever you might go next time). I’m sure we can do better. If we can’t we won’t be able to go to park as often.”

      – Next time just take out the phone and show the time and say “Remember, today is our second chance. If we don’t get back when this says 6:45 we won’t be able to go tomorrow”

      – (repeat rest as before)

      – If didn’t make it back on time, “Gosh, we didn’t get back in time again. We won’t go to the park tomorrow. We need to learn to keep our deals first otherwise it is difficult to do fun things. We’ll try again when you are a little older.”

      – Don’t go to the park the next day. State clearly “It’s a nice day for park, but we can’t go today because we haven’t learnt to keep a deal. Let’s play in the backyard instead”. Expect a tantrum, and vow to handle it calmly, gently and with empathy. This is not punishment. This is not about teaching a lesson for bad behavior. This is coaching for good behavior.

      – After a couple of days (or a week). “Hey you look like you’ve grown up a bit… do you think we can try keeping a deal? Do you want to go to the park? Remember, we need to come back when the phone says 6:45.”

      Repeat as many times as required. Better yet, incorporate the “keeping the deal = more fun” positive consequence theme in as many aspects as possible. There won’t be instant results, but when the shift occurs, it makes a huge difference — getting back from the park on time is just one of the perks. It’s worked really well for us. Before doing anything for the first time, I just have to state the expected behavior, make some tweaks based on her wants and we’re set. Works *most* of the time :) I hope it works for you too. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>