"Don't take up a man's time talking about the smartness of you children; he wants to talk to you about the smartness of his children."

How I learned to discipline my kids without shame or punishment



His day started with three smiley faces. Taped to the wall of our playroom was my son's behavior chart, and every day I measured his worth with three hanging smiley faces. I know that sounds like a dramatic way to word what was happening, but our children do look to us as they form their self-concept and sense of self-worth. So, for him, each smiley face that disappeared told him he wasn't good.

You're bad. You're naughty. You're wrong. You're not enough.

It was a simple system. On the chart hung three cards. One side of each card had a smiley face. The opposite side had a sad face. Each time he broke a rule or committed some act that I deemed a transgression, one smiley face got flipped. If all three got flipped, he was isolated to a little green chair at the end of the hallway for time-out.

I told myself I was being fair. I told myself that this was "positive discipline" because I wasn't using physical punishment. I told myself that it was simply a visual reminder to him that he needed to control his behavior.

I convinced myself it was helpful to him. So, there it hung—a constant reminder to him of his inadequacy because, let's be honest, 3-year-olds don't behave perfectly,...


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