Four Gentle Discipline Techniques

Discipline can be tough. Sometimes it feels like the only things we can do to get the attention of our children or spur a positive change in their attitudes is yell or threaten punishment. Frankly, this isn’t always necessary or helpful, is it? If we’re being honest, there’s probably some other much gentler discipline techniques that we could use that would be just as effective and much easier on the hearts of our children.


Have you ever gotten in an escalating yelling match with your 6 year old? At first it’s just a discussion, and then you speak louder because you’re talking at the same time and you need to be heard. He feels the same way, so he quickly escalates over you, even though he may not necessarily be trying to argue. Before you know it, you’re yelling in order to get your point across, and you likely come across as very stern to the kid who just wanted to speak his mind. Try this next time: When you can’t get his attention or get him to stop talking so that you can speak, start whispering. This will quickly grab his attention and likely leave him shocked, and inevitably speechless. Use the golden opportunity to explain how its rude to talk over mom and dad (or anybody else), and thank him for being quiet until you’re done.

Don’t Use Pet Names When You’re Serious

We all have pet names for our loved ones – your husband might be honey, your 6-year-old is love bug and your 2-year-old is nugget. These are precious terms of endearment that communicate thought and love whenever you use them, and the absence of these terms can communicate a different message just as strongly. Your child who’s used to hearing you call him “love bug” will stop in his tracks when you say his name in a serious tone instead. A stern “Noah James” before a command will prompt action must faster than a sweet term of endearment.

Take Time to Calm Down

Disciplining gently is nearly impossible if you’re angry when you’re implementing a punishment. Do you sometimes act or discipline out of sheer frustration? We all do; it’s completely natural, but that doesn’t make it right – especially if our goal is to show grace and be gentle in our disciplining. So, make a rule for yourself that before you punish, scold or talk to your child for an action or behavior, that you’ll take 10 minutes to cool down. Stop the behavior immediately, but wait to take it any further… your process of corrective action will more than likely take a turn for the better as you’ll find being gentle is much easier, even if the punishment remains the same.

Surround Punishment with Reminders

Sometimes your child needs to be reminded of why things are important. Saying, “Joey, I love you so I want you to make good choices so you don’t get in trouble” will subtly remind your child that you love them and that there’s a reason to make good choices, and it’s a lot more effective than saying, “Joey you better not do that!” Likewise, when your child makes a bad choice, it’s always a good idea to sit down with them before punishment to let them know you still love them, but that their action or behavior was wrong and will have consequences. Keeping this talks calm and graceful will help your child to really soak in each lesson as they learn all behaviors have consequences.

Disciplining will be a lot more pleasant for you and your child, and likely much more effective if you learn to be gentle in discipline. Remind your child of the why, take the necessary time to calm down, don’t use terms of endearments when you’re serious, and whisper… you’ll be surprised how much more effective it is than just yelling.

 Do you know of any gentle discipline techniques?