Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday: “The Soul of Discipline” by Kim John Payne

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The Soul of Discipline: The Simplicity Parenting Approach to Warm, Firm, and Calm Guidance- From Toddlers to Teens by Kim John Payne is yet another parenting offering in this series, and my justification for that is simple: raising kids is hard. The more books you read, the better chances you have to get it (mostly) right, particularly books about discipline.

Key Takeaways

  • Kids misbehave when they feel disoriented. They seek our attention through disruptive or whiny behavior in order to seek reassurance.
  • Keep kids’ lives simple. Provide a calm, safe and routine-based environment that allows them to not get overwhelmed.
  • When disciplining a child, reorient them to family values, such as by saying, “In our family, we don’t speak to each other like that; we just don’t.”
  • Maintain a healthy skepticism surrounding products marketed to children, especially books and other media. Allow only media that supports your family’s values.
  • “Suggestions and choices needed to be replaced by simple, clear, firm instructions.”
  • Before offering an instruction, connect with the child and orient them to the task. Explain what is happening and why.
  • If you find yourself talking or instructing constantly, try a “No Request–No Suggest Diet” in which you take a break from these activities. Notice which requests and suggestions did not need to be made. When you do make suggestions, do so mindfully and always follow through.
  • Beware of role confusion. It’s important for kids to know that you are in charge.
  • Sometimes, kids need a more direct approach, and other times, they need us to proceed slowly and gently. Gentle parenting is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Read your child’s emotions at the moment, and adjust accordingly, as you would in any other social situation.
  • Take a few minutes every day to connect with your child. Don’t just direct traffic all day.
  • When offering a difficult instruction, do so in a mindful manner in a quiet place.
  • Make instructions specific and simple, especially for easily distracted children.
  • In many cases it’s best not to negotiate, justify or converse about these instructions. Simply repeat the instruction gently.
  • Demonstrate physically what you want the child to do. Children are excellent imitators.
  • Don’t overuse time-outs, as they are rejection-based punishments and not as effective for self-reflection as some other consequences are.
  • By contrast, time-ins (times with the parent alone to calm down) can be helpful. Use the time to discuss the difficulty or problematic behavior.
  • “Remember that there is no such thing as a disobedient child … only a disoriented one.”

About the Author

Kim John Payne is an author, educator, education consultant and researcher. He is most known for his books Simplicity Parenting and The Soul of Discipline. His work focuses on creating balanced, harmonious, and supportive environments for children, and he emphasizes the importance of simplicity, rhythm, and connection in family life.

In addition to his writing, Kim John Payne gives lectures, workshops, and trainings for parents, educators, and professionals. He is a sought-after speaker and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs to discuss his approach to parenting and education.


Can’t quite get to all the nonfiction and self-help books that interest you? Read Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday here.


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