Reading up on child discipline

This has been an interesting journey for me. First I realized that discipline and punishment are not the same thing, and that spanking was no more effective that any other type of discipline. Once we decided we wanted a break from spanking, we knew that we had to remove it completely as an option, otherwise we would slip into old habits. I was always told that parents who don’t spank are bound to become permissive and let their kids walk all over them. Determined that this would not be true in my case, I read all the discipline books (well, maybe not all) in my library.

These are the books that I have benefited from so far:

Discipline from birth to 3: This book doesn’t go into a whole lot of detail, and I am not a teen parent. But it is the first non-christian parenting book I read, and it is the one that introduced me to the concept that discipline is not punishment. I think the main point of this book is that you are not alone.

Without spanking or spoiling: This book strikes me as slightly manipulative sometimes, since it’s main focus is how to to get the behavior you want out of your children. I do recognize that sometimes it is necessary to work for specific results, and I really appreciated the step by step workbook format. This book helped me to think through why I do what I do and focused on toddlers and preschool aged children, which is what I have.

The time out solution: This book has probably been the most helpful to me so far. The title had me thinking that it was going to be a replica of my old system of discipline, except with time-outs substituted for all of the spankings. But that was not the case. It digs into many creative ways to train your children and explains specifically when and for what time-outs are most helpful for.

Sibling abuse: This is not a discipline book, but in reading it I was surprised again by just how unhealthy power imbalances can be. Their is only one chapter on how spanking encourages siblings to abuse each other, but the rest of the book was eye-opening too. I was always taught that children had no authority whatsoever, that parents were the complete masters. As I look back, I can see where that kind of family structure would warp the way you see power. The stronger rule the weaker, and may use physical force if necessary. It only deepens my desire to teach my children that they each have power, to encourage others, or to harm them. And they have the power to say no to people that try to hurt them, no matter who those people may be.

So far the only christian parenting book that I’ve found that teaches discipline without spanking being a major component is:

A hug and a kiss and a kick in the pants: This book is chock-full of stories and ideas about child-training. I really enjoyed her easy approach to discipline. It doesn’t give a “system” or a list of rules, and there isn’t a whole lot of step by step practical advice, but I still learned alot from this ladies perspective and advice.

I am hoping to write more on specific discipline methods I’ve put into use around here next.

If any of you have a gentle parenting book that you have learned from PLEASE give my research a boost and  leave the title in the comments!!

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  • The Praying Mom

    I've really enjoyed Parenting with Grace.

  • CM

    I never realized how big Christians were on spanking! I guess I never really thought about it. It's hard to believe that it's hard to find Christian parenting books without spanking as a focus.

  • Anonymous

    I think the Positive Discipline Books are pretty good and they have a specific book for the first three years. They give many specific examples that I found helpful, but there are some things I don't agree with such as the section on sleep training.
    Playful Parenting was helpful mainly to open my eyes to how much easier our days are if I keep a positive attitude and add some fun. For example if I say to my 2 yr old in a happy voice "Get off the table please" he usually does right away, but if I use a stern voice it's instantly a power struggle and I end up taking him off kicking and screaming. I do feel like the author is of the opinion that you can and should make everything a game for your kids which I don't think is possible when you have more than one child. It's a very long and very wordy book though.

  • Jessica

    I am glad you're writing about where you're at with discipline. My husband and I are at the same place- feeling like we don't want to spank anymore, but we've just begun to dig into the whole issue. Thanks for the book list! Always enjoy your blog.

  • Young Mom

    CM- I've been surprised by the lack of gentle parenting books as well, either I'm looking in the wrong place, or there just aren't that many of them.

    Jessica- Thanks!

  • ‘Becca

    Adventures in Gentle Discipline by Hilary Flower is my favorite for toddlers. As my child gets older, I'm appreciating the books by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlisch, and Parent Effectiveness Training is an oldie but goodie; these give me strategies for being positive while still feeling like I'm in charge and I have a right to my opinions and feelings, instead of having to be gentle in a wimpy way.

    Dr. Sears is a Christian and has some great advice on discipline.

    I'm so glad to see you learning about this! I was raised with positive discipline myself and never considered doing anything different, but the specifics of my approach have to be refined all the time as my child has a somewhat different personality than I did as a child. Also, I've learned that managing my own anger often is the biggest issue!

  • Young Mom

    Thanks Becca! I'm looking forward to reading those links! :)

  • Anonymous

    The Gentle Discipline discussion forum on is really helpful to me. It's not necessarily a Christian perspective but you can ask all sorts of questions of other parents and read other's advice.

  • MamaVee

    It isn't a discipline book, but it has greatly shaped how we discipline "Hold on to your kids" by Dr. Gordon Neufeld

  • dulce de leche

    I am so glad to have found your blog! Linking to you on our Facebook page. :) This post has some of my favorite books:

  • gossettfamily

    Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk