Show 109 – Gentle Discipline and Guidance

Do you know a toddler who refuses to budge? Has a preschooler ever called you stupid? Like so many parents, have you reacted with annoyance, exploded, ramped up your authority, or used words that just don’t work?


This morning, Sarah MacLaughlin, parenting educator, author, speaker and mother joins us from Portland, Maine to explore the topic of gentle discipline and guidance.


Sarah’s award-winning, Amazon best seller, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, brings awareness to the way we communicate with young children. Changing our approach, words, and tone promotes happy, well adjusted people in the future, has lasting beneficial effects on our relationship with our child, and on the child’s behaviour as well.


For over twenty years, Sarah has worked with children and families as a preschool teacher and nanny. She has a background in early childhood education and is a social worker. Currently, Sarah is the resource coordinator in therapeutic foster care at The Opportunity Alliance in South Portland, Maine. She serves on the board of Birth Roots, and writes the “Parenting Toolbox” column for a parenting newspaper, Parent & Family.


You can follow Sarah’s blog where she write articles about parenting and documents her personal parenting journey; her son is four so she says that will be ongoing. Her website is


What is gentle discipline and guidance? Why is it such an important topic?


“Let’s raise children who don’t have to recover from their childhoods.” Pam Leo


Attachment Parenting International defines gentle discipline: “Attachment Parenting incorporates the “golden rule” of parenting; parents should treat their children the way they would want to be treated. Positive discipline is an overarching philosophy that helps a child develop a conscience guided by his own internal discipline and compassion for others. Positive discipline is rooted in a secure, trusting, connected relationship between parent and child. Discipline that is empathetic, loving and respectful strengthens that the connection between parent and child, while harsh or overly-punitive discipline weakens the connection. Remember that the ultimate goal of discipline is to help children develop self-control and self-discipline.”


La Leche League International says this about loving guidance, “From infancy on, children need loving guidance which reflects acceptance of their capabilities and sensitivity to their feelings…Look to your child. Knowing your child, her capabilities, being sensitive to her feelings — all of these things will help us lovingly guide our children.”


Hillary Flower from LLLI adds this, “Gentle discipline means, quite simply, placing empathy and respect at the very center of your parenting.”

The focus is on: safety, partnership, looking for better options, self-discipline, nurture respect and empathy


Sarah MacLaughlin writes in her article “Discipline from the Heart” that gentle discipline or guidance involves:

  • accepting a child where they are: honour their impulses
  • having age-appropriate expectations
  • and maintaining unconditional positive regard

Gentle guidance also involves our higher thinking.

Listen to find out what “higher thinking” means, how we can access our higher thinking in times of stress and overwhelm, and simple things parents can do to make a difference in their relationships with their kids.


Aired live: Sunday, January 13, 2013 0800-0900 Eastern Standard Time on CFRU 93.3 FM, Guelph, Ontario, Canada


Listen to Pod Cast (click on the link to listen or save this MP3 to your computer)



About Wendy McDonnell

Leave A Comment...