8 Steps to Discipline Children with Calm, Zen Love

Get Control While You Discipline Children with Peace, Love and Understanding

It happens to every parent—that moment when your sweet, adorable, loving child can suddenly do or say something that can drive you crazy or even hurt your feelings. And it will be then and there that you will need to make a huge effort to not lose your cool and practice calm child discipline.

But as with all conflict, it takes two to tango.

As you guide your child toward better behavior, remember that you have the power to set the dynamic.

Here are some ways you can infuse some Zen principles—Buddhism-derived teachings that emphasize letting go of attachments and tranquility—into your child discipline style. All it takes is some peace, love and understanding.


Remove yourself from the action.

Mother and daughter at home
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If you find yourself getting hot under the collar, take a page from Buddhist teachings and take a long view of your conflict with your child. It can be hard to do in the heat of the moment, but remind yourself that you will work it out and try not to respond with anger and hurt. You may want to actually walk away or take a few minutes to calm down before you talk to your child.


Visualize something peaceful.

While you are collecting your cool, think about something that makes you happy. Taking a walk? Lunch with a friend? A date with your spouse? Give yourself something to look forward to in the near future that’s just for you.


Put your battles into perspective.

Some bothersome behavior, such as defiance or backtalk, are a normal part of child development.

Remind yourself that your relationship with your child is strong and loving, and can be made stronger when you work on solving problems together.


Remind yourself of your power.

Just because you calm down, it doesn’t mean your child will re-set herself at the same time. She may continue to be angry or unpleasant. But by talking to your child in a nice way—while reminding her to also speak to you respectfully—you set the tone and lead her down the path you want her to follow.


Look for things that may be causing the behavior.

Have there been any significant changes in your home recently? Could something be bothering her at school, such as a bully or problems doing schoolwork or homework? When your child is ready to talk, try to get to the root of her behavior.


Don’t be afraid to dole out consequences.

Being Zen doesn’t mean letting your child walk all over you. Whether it’s time-outs or taking away privileges, make sure you follow through with punishments.

Children need to know that they can’t push beyond the limits you set and get away with it—otherwise, they’ll push the boundaries further the next time.


Say "I love you" when you discipline children.

I always make sure I tell my son that I love him, even when I ask him for better behavior or explain why I’m unhappy with something he did. Yes, I sometimes get the "Well, I don’t love you!" retort, but that’s par for the course. By staying steady, I guide my child toward understanding that family members can have conflict or disagree, but should never forget how much they love each other.


Take time for yourself.

Whether it’s yoga or kickboxing, do something that relieves stress so that you are better able to handle bad behavior—or any other challenge —the next time it comes up.

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