Skip to main content

A Parent's Guide to Conscious Discipline

A positive parenting expert explains Conscious Discipline, a new parenting trend, and philosophy that is having a tremendous impact on both kids and adults.
Mother using conscious discipline to correct her child
Updated: April 19, 2024

As parents, we want to provide our children with the tools that they need to have a happy and healthy life. Parenting has changed since the time of our own childhoods, and we have access to more resources and information about parenting than our own parents ever did. One parenting philosophy and resource that is having a tremendously positive impact, both on children and the adults that support them, is called Conscious Discipline

More: How Your Tone of Voice When Disciplining Your Kids Can Have a Serious Impact

What is Conscious Discipline?

Conscious Discipline is an evidence-based, trauma-informed approach. It is recognized as one of the top social-emotional programs available to both schools and parents. As Heather Wallace, a coach and mentor for positive parenting approaches, explains: “Conscious Discipline is a social-emotional program that teaches children how to regulate and manage emotions in order to make safe and healthy choices. But the focus FIRST is on parents.” In other words, in order to best help our children with the conscious discipline approach, we need to do the work on ourselves and our own emotions first.

Don't have time to read now? Pin it for later: 

Pinterest graphic for a parent's guide to conscious discipline

How does Conscious Discipline differ from the way that discipline was used in our own childhoods?

Conscious Discipline takes a very different approach to discipline from the way we might have experienced it in our own childhoods. Conscious Discipline is all about connection rather than punishment. When we think back to how parents have traditionally responded to big emotions felt and displayed by children, we may recall reactions that ranged from being dismissive to responding with anger to minimizing feelings and concerns. 

Conscious Discipline teaches adults to control their own emotional responses to children so they can stay present at the moment, connect with the child, and then work through the feelings the child is having together.

Expert Heather Wallace further explains:

Dr. Becky Bailey, author, educator, and creator of Conscious Discipline, discusses how us parents need to rethink discipline and control ourselves first before dealing with our child’s behavior. It takes a shift in mindset from how we were raised to think about discipline as punishment, to thinking of discipline as an opportunity to teach missing skills. Parents use the tools to gain control of their emotions and upset, and in turn, download that calm to their child. The skills that Conscious Discipline teaches will ensure that the child stays connected to the parent as the parent teaches and guides the child.”

Based on research on both the human brain and child development, Conscious Discipline was designed to make changes in the lives of the supporting adult first. Therefore, this approach can be truly beneficial to the entire family.

Why should parents consider using a Conscious Discipline approach?

The Conscious Discipline approach can be helpful in so many of the most frustrating experiences in parenting that often leave us feeling out of control or with a recurring thought that we are failing as parents. If you have experienced any of the following, Conscious Discipline can help: 

  • Power struggles
  • Defiance
  • Verbal attacks
  • Bullying 
  • Physical aggression
  • Difficulty keeping your child on task

Conscious Discipline can take the frustration and feelings of powerlessness out of these every day parenting moments and turn them into teachable moments instead.

What are the Seven Skills of Discipline?

According to the Conscious Discipline website, the Seven Skills of Discipline have evolved from the Seven Powers for Conscious Adults. The skills are:

  • Composure
  • Encouragement
  • Assertiveness
  • Choices
  • Empathy
  • Positive Intent
  • Consequences

Charise Rohm Nulsen

About Charise

Charise is a Travel Planner and founder of Experience the Dream Travel, specializing in… Read more

Subscribe to Family Education

Your partner in parenting from baby name inspiration to college planning.