Parenting With Grace-Book Study: Chapter Three

(Intro here, and Chapter One, Chapter Two)
Everything in quotations can be directly attributed to the authors, unless otherwise noted.  These are my own very brief personal notes/interpretation/things I want to remember

Chapter Three:-Tools of the Trade: Everyday Discipline That Makes a Difference

Everyday discipline is what keeps homes running smoothly vs. Corrective discipline (next chapter) which gets things back on track-if you use everyday discipline correctly and consistently the less you will have to use corrective discipline.

-Authors stress that every parent wants to know what they can do to their kids to make them behave, but this book is about "how to disciple your children through a loving relationship so that they actually want to behave."

-Nothing will "work" if you don't have a plan to help one another as a family become more virtuous-first three chapters most important!  (which is all about showing your love and giving your time!)

Everyday Discipline goals: strengthen relationship parents have with children, and proactively teach values and virtues

-They rank high on the self-donative scale.

-They teach us how to use ourselves as parents to nurture growth and change in our kids.

Four parenting "musts" represented by acronym: C.A.R.E.:

-If everything is negotiable, from homework to chores to bath time, you will be giving your children the chance to drive you insane with arguments.
-If consequences aren't enforced consistently they will never know when/if to take you seriously

Consistency is helped tremendously by:

ESTABLISHING FAIRLY REGULATED ROUTINES!   (I've been thinking so much about this lately  This is so important I think for every age, I only know that because it has kept me sane when I enforce it, and makes me bonkers when I'm not consistent (darn!) with it.  I think my generation has taken this for granted and have lost the art of routine which keeps the sanity of family life, especially the mother's!,  in tact.  It gives less chance for those arguments, rebellion, but why? whining I think.  It's so much harder to go back and reestablish than just to be consistent all the time!  Kids crave routines-they thrive in routine. 

i.e.-going to Mass as much as possible at the same time every week, Saturday chores every Saturday, getting homework finished after school every day, Sunday is always family day, etc. (and there are many etc.'s!)

 A=Acquire a Firm but Gentle Style

"You shouldn't hunt bunnies with an elephant gun".-address children's misdeeds in the least offensive, most respectful, but also most efficient manner.
"Good discipline is a balancing act."
(The book contains a quiz that lists traits of each style-firm and gentle.)

R=Remember Not To Lead Your Children into Temptation

-We need to understand, respect, and compensate for developmental abilities.
-Don't give them more than they can handle (i.e. a toddler in a room full of knick-knacks) then punish them for accepting the temptation invitation.  (I have found this to be a sanity lifesaver-we should have high expectations, but not completely unrealistic expectations also!)

E=Expect the Best from Yourself and Your Children

-We have a responsibility to expect our children to be the best they can be at each stage and age (keeping in mind what is developmentally appropriate)
-To parent well, we must parent deliberately

Useful Technique Ideas for Everyday Discipline
(remember this is just a brief outline, the book explain much better and uses real life examples)
1. Build Rapport
(Help children want to behave and respond quickly to correction)
-What previous chapter was all about.

-Physical affection is more attention getting than yelling...taking a younger child on lap and correcting him quietly or sitting down to a calm conversation with adolescent has much more power than yelling ever will.

-Uses an example of a mom of eleven who, every day, makes an intention of planning one small thing to do for each child (with her husbands help) to say, "I was thinking about you."

-Building relationship and rapport is not about being children's "buddy"-they will have plenty of those, it's about being a teacher-a wise, lovably affectionate, even fun teacher.

2. Write It Down
(Never repeat yourself again!)

-State clear parental expectations! 

-Uses example of a mom who was having a hard time with children who were constantly breaking house rules, mom spending too much time yelling and arguing with them. (Did they look in my windows? :) She realized that the younger kids didn't really know what the house rules were.

-Sit down with children, have a family meeting, review and write down rules on paper, sign names, and post on fridge.  (exs: speak respectfully, do house chores without being asked twice, food only in kitchen, etc.)  (I will add, have as few as possible, too many I think would be overwhelming and easily forgotten)

-Instead of constantly correcting children say "Please go look at the rules list."  or "Please go look at the list and tell me what you forgot"-for a routine/chore list.  Instead of having to nag and lecture they can figure out themselves.

-For little children use pictures instead of words!

3. Redirection
(Stop kids from returning to the thing you said no to!)

-It isn't enough to tell a child to stop doing something-suggest something else.  "If you want to use your outside voice, please go outside-or if you'd prefer not to go outside, what could you do that would let you use an inner voice?"

-Substitute this for yelling 'no!' again and again.

-Kids learn to channel their energy into productive, respectful, appropriate channels.

-There are times when you must say no period, but most times it's possible to find the context to do the thing the child wants to do or help child find something he would enjoy doing more.

-Takes more effort than yelling no, but teaches a child to practice internal control and make good choices.

4. Restating
(Stop disrespect in its track!)

"Child: "Give me that toy!"
Parent: "Let's try that again."
Child: "I want that!"
Parent: "How about, "May I have that, please?"
Child: "My I have that, please?"
Parent: "Thank you. Much better.""

-I remember reading about this in Linda and Richard Eyre's parenting books also-they said, "Start over again please", when the child/teen began request/answer with a disrespectful tone.  

-For whining someone taught me this gem-"I can't understand your words when you whine, can you please use your normal voice?"  Works wonders.

5. Do-Overs
(Stop inappropriate behavior in its tracks!)
-Just like restating but action
-Ex. if child throws a toy at his brother, "please go pick that up and hand it gently to him. Thank you.  Now please say, "I'm sorry."

A good Do-Over has two steps:
1. Tell child what to do and how to do it (for younger ones show them what you mean.) ex. gently, more slowly, carefully.

2. Supervise till he fulfills request to your satisfaction, as many times as necessary (not being super picky, just sincere.)  Be gentle. Be firm.

-To change some behavior, you must have him practice the more appropriate alternative every time. 

-My note: for little ones especially, be pleased when they do it the right way, so they are encouraged to keep up change.

6. Choices
(Banish whining for good.)

-Extremely important to teach children they are responsible for the both the choices they make and the consequences of those choices.

Uses example:
"If you choose not to eat your meal, you will not have dessert."  "But I want dessert!"  "Then you should choose to eat your meal.  It's your decision."

-Use technique when it appears child is making poor behavior choices.
-It reminds child of the consequences he is facing, and he has complete power over the choices he makes and then consequences he experiences
-Helps increase internal control

You can say, "I'm very sorry you made this choice, if you are unhappy with your decision, please choose differently next time."

-Instead of consequences coming out of nowhere, this teaches that consequences are what they are, and a person has the power of choice to choose pleasant consequences.  This is the essence of internal control.  

-Teaches them that the power of their choices affect their happiness throughout life!

7. Reviewing/Rehearsing
(Stop having to correct the same behavior over and over again!)

-My notes: this has worked SO well for me when I remember to do it-something my smart mom told me

-Kids need to have review for clear understand of expectations of behavior especially in situation where they will be "tested" (i.e. friends house, Mass, wedding, ceremony, party, etc.)

-Practice if you have to-going out to eat-"restaurant manners", sitting still at library time, but it could also just be reminders  "I expect you to sit still and not talk, this is an important event", or, "I expect you to remember there is no running in the aisles, or you could hurt someone, or knock down boxes.", or "Remember when you open your gifts, thank each person, and never say, "I already have this!"...

8. Manage Transitions
(Prevent many tantrums and increase cheerful compliance!)

-Children have ability to get lost in their own worlds and do not do well moving from one thing into another without warning. (And either do adults!)

-By walking in on your children and saying "Time to go!", or "Time for bed!" or "Say goodbye to your friends!" is like the mental equivalent of tying a rope around your kid's neck and yanking really hard....a recipe for disaster.

-Give warnings!  Five minutes, two minutes, one minute reminders.

 9. Be a Supermodel
(Establish yourself as the expert in your child's eye!)

-The power and importance of modeling cannot be underestimated!

-If you want your child to be more polite, more respectful, more responsible, or more anything, you have to do it FIRST on a daily basis.  They see and hear and watch everything you do and say!

-If you kick toys out of the way, call someone an unkind name, sit around watching TV when you should be doing something else, talk in a nasty tone to your child,  remember! they are watching.

-We are not perfect, we all have slip-ups and mistakes, use these experiences as teaching moments about making choices and responsible ways to live life in general.

-The personality traits we most dislike in our children are often the same traits we despise in ourselves.

-"Partnering with your children to overcome shared flaws reinforces that each person in the family is responsible to help the others grow in holiness, and it respects the God-given authority you have over your children without neglecting the fact that you, too, are a child of God who struggles with imperfection."

10. Use Your Emotions
(Respectfully remind children that their actions affect your relationship with them.)

-It is OK to show our children grateful and approving feelings but also sad and angry feelings when they disappoint us.

-It is not inappropriate to show your angry, sad, hurt feelings to a child, if done sparingly and respectfully and intentionally-it can be important part of teaching child the relationship-consequences and also model emotional control.

-Remember ratio of at least five times as warm and affectionate as compared to "negative" emotions such as disappointment and anger.

11. Labeling
(Teach children the real meaning of specific virtues.)

-Make sure kids know what virtues mean in "real life".  What does responsibility or irresponsibility look like? 

-Use example of real life, example of others, TV programs, or movies, pointing out virtues as you see them.

-Cute idea for younger kids: write down virtues on stones, bingo chips, etc.  Put in jar and have child pull one out a day, that is the virtue for the day that everyone works hard at.

12. Rituals and Routines
(Give your child a strong sense of family identity.)

-So many studies show the incredible power of (simple!) family rituals and routines for well-behaved, mentally healthy families.

-Rituals and routines are like an "anti-biotic" that helps keep families safe and create peace, happiness and harmony.

-The more a family does together, the more a family will stay together and be happy about it-create a team

-Doesn't matter if all the children agree on an activity, just do them.  Walks, meals, games...

13. Storytelling
(Improve your child's capacity for insight and awareness.)

-I love the lesson of a good old-fashioned story!  We went to Mass during a Level 3 snow emergency the other weekend, and my kids were coming up with a million and one ways to get out of it, praying (ha!) that the church was closed, saying we'd be arrested, etc.  I remember my Uncle Joe telling me a story about my Grandpa making him and another uncle-his brother-walk to Mass one morning because the storm was so bad the roads were closed-for miles of course :). They thought they would get out of getting up early, but learned a lesson about obligation!  (Although my kids do roll their eyes a little when I start in on "back in my day..." it never stops me, and I could be wrong, but I think the kids like hearing them...and I and Jeff both like telling them.)

-Author's suggestions of good resources besides the Bible itself (especially Parables):Veggie Tales, The Nancy Rue series of historical fiction (4th grade to junior high read-alone level, but excellent for read-aloud), Gladys Hunt's classic books-Honey for a Child's Heart, Honey for a Teen's Heart. 

"..stable families with consistent rituals and routines, intentional discipline, and orderly, affectionate homes encourage children's brains to be very resilient to stress, generally happier, more intelligent, more peaceful, and more well-behaved."

"Parents too, as they become more experienced learn how to put away all the creative punishments, all the star charts, the token economics, the spanking, the bribing, the cajoling, and all the other more "techniquey" ways to "make" their children change, and become more skilled in how to use their relationship with a child to nurture change on a daily basis in the simple interactions of every moment.


  1. Thank you so much for posting these, I am finding them fascinating and I cannot wait to buy the book. I am not Catholic, but my partner is and we have baptized our 2-year-old son and will be raising him in the Catholic faith. As a fellow Dr Sears lover, I am loving what this book is saying, thank you for posting!

  2. I got the book on my ipad and am loving it! I'm so inspired and it's really helping me already. It's making this "ministry of motherhood" a little easier already. I'm thinking about so many things differently. Thanks for your posts on this; it's made a difference in my life! High-Fives!

  3. Thanks so much for posting these. I really love this book and my experience with 12 years of parenting is that they are spot on. Routines and rhythms go a long, long way.

    So does having a loving relationship so they WANT to obey. That has been so true in my experience, when my relationship with my kids is good, they are naturally more obediant. When it isn't, they aren't.

  4. I am not Catholic, but man I think I may have to buy this book, what phenomenal suggestions!

  5. Sarah, I just love your beautiful family and your wonderful blog...it's always so uplifting and encouraging. However, I made the mistake of reading these parenting posts before bed and I find that every time I do, I can't get to sleep. My mind is just racing with all the things I'm doing wrong/not well enough. Help a fellow mama out here and please tell me that (on top of doing all these wonderful things) you also spend a lot of time talking about why they shouldn't do certain things (lecturing if you will), putting kids on time-out (punishment?discipline? ) , and maybe even losing your cool here and there? Otherwise, I may just start to cry.

    Don't get me wrong. I think everything they're saying is valid and necessary. But (and maybe it's because I'm reading it in excerpt form instead of within the original context) It seems there isn't a lot of room for natural, human, tired-mama reactions. Or rather, it doesn't seem to acknowledge that those moments exist. You know the ones...like when you've taken the time to be intentional with the littles, played for hours,spoken gently, and yet still no one is co-operating and you just can't take it anymore, so you lecture (and maybe raise your voice).

    Those moments exist in your house too, right? It can't just be me.

    1. Hi Tatiana-
      One of the reasons I LOVE this book, and am writing these notes out, is that it validates what I know HAS worked for us, and it REMINDS me of things, like my yelling, nagging, complaining, lecturing, negativity is not very effective, or has very little value in changing behavior. I need, want, love those reminders....this book is a beautiful testament to all I know to be true when it comes to raising good respectful loving kids.
      I think you are right also, in that this is a very very brief outline of what the authors have written-there are extensive examples, and much more written-there are quizzes and little question/answer worksheets also. And these techniques really are habits-and habits take awhile to establish-it's probably so overwhelming the way I'm writing it all in one blog post.
      I have gone to bed guilty plenty of nights for sure, there isn't a parent out there who hasn't had a bad day. Or bad weeks or bad months. But I LOVE to learn/remind/motivate/inspire myself to be better. Don't look at it from the view point of condemnation or judgment, or criticism-I think when we do that, no matter what the subject, we don't allow ourselves to learn and grow and change and do better!
      I hope this makes you feel and sleep better. :)

    2. Thank you so much Sarah. You know, I really shouldn't have left my comment. I hope it didn't sound judgmental on my part. It was right before bed and I was feeling overwhelmed. I too love to learn and grow in my journey as a parent. It's the biggest, most important job we'll ever have, right? So we'd better give it our all. I'm going to order the book and read it for myself. I'm sure it'll be great!

      Thank you again for being so kind and honest!

    3. I think we all feel guilty at times. I know, I do every day. I yell too much, I a too short-tempered, too impatient. But, I love reading these posts and reading PWG because it inspires me to be better and try harder and I know I CAN. I just need to get past my human failings and I still fail all the time, but I love having something to aspire to.

  6. you are so good. thanks for the supporting info.