The Father Factor

9 Steps for Dads on How to Discipline Children

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Dec 4, 2018


What do today’s dads most want to know about how to raise their children?

Whenever I’m asked that question, I point to three common topics:

  • Knowledge about child development (e.g. developmental milestones)
  • How to work with mom to raise their child
  • How to discipline their child

There’s no shortage of advice when it comes to child discipline. Go ahead. Open your web browser and enter “how to discipline a child” into its search function.

See what I mean?

So, how do you know what’s good advice?

Advice that’s grounded in science—in evidence.

One of the blogs I subscribe to is the free Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Erik Barker. I subscribe to it because it presents science- and evidence-grounded advice on a range of topics in a concise, easy-to-read format. Erik typically summarizes the science on a topic from one or more books. He ends each post with a brief summary of the summary that boils what he has shared down to its essence. And Barker is hilarious. So, his posts are a fun read, too. 

In a recent post, he shared nine steps to discipline a child that any parent can use. These steps appear in No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel Siegel, a clinical professor of psychology at UCLA, and Tina Payne Bryson, a pediatric and adolescent psychiatrist and founder and executive director of The Center for Connection in Pasadena, CA.

According to Siegel and Payne Bryson, the steps fall into two categories that create a process for “no-drama” discipline:

  • Connect
  • Redirect

Dads can implement no-drama discipline by first connecting with their child and, second, redirecting them. This process helps their child calm down, reflect, learn, and, if necessary, change their behavior to avoid making the same mistakes.

As Barker shares, connection means:

“…showing that you’re on their side–while still maintaining boundaries. You need to tune into their feelings and show them that you understand. This helps move them from reactivity to receptivity. It allows the emotion to dissipate so they can start using their thinky brain instead of their emotional brain.”

Connection is the first of the nine steps. It’s a step in and of itself that contains the following four-part process:

1A.  Communicate Comfort
1B.  Validate
1C.  Listen
1D.  Reflect

Redirect, in contrast, is a combination of the other eight steps. Each letter in the word is the first letter in each of those remaining steps.

  1. Reduce Words
  2. Embrace Emotions
  3. Describe, Don’t Preach
  4. Involve Your Child in the Discipline
  5. Reframe a “No” into a Conditional “Yes”
  6. Emphasize the Positive
  7. Creatively Approach the Situation
  8. Teach Mindsight Tools

Barker provides a summary of each part in the connection process and of the other eight steps.

I encourage you to read the post to learn more about how to carry them out so that you can share them with the dads you serve. (I also encourage you to subscribe to Barking Up the Wrong Tree.) They’ll be an excellent addition to other discipline tips and guidance you provide to dads, such as the science-based tips and guidance in the fatherhood programs and print materials of National Fatherhood Initiative®!

What tips and guidance do you provide to dads on how to discipline a child?

Are the tips and guidance you provide grounded in science—in evidence?


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