Database Name: dbwzecoixet92g peacefulparenting – A Dad’s Path

#70: Discovering Your Parenting Superpowers: A Guide to Peaceful Parenting with Sarah Rosensweet

If you like the beautiful story below, you’ll probably gain a lot from the full podcast. When will your “last time” be?


In this episode of A Dad’s Path, host Will Braunstein explores the concept of peaceful parenting with Sarah Rosensweet. Sarah, a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker-educator, and host of the top-rated parenting podcast, the Peaceful Parenting podcast, shares her knowledge on parenting superpowers and how to use them to guide parenting. Will and Sarah delve into balancing autonomy and control in parenting young kids and discuss the importance of giving children enough independence to develop decision-making skills while still maintaining safety and well-being. They also explore the topic of consequences in peaceful parenting, discussing the difference between consequences and natural consequences and how peaceful parenting uses natural consequences to teach children without making them feel bad.

Top Topics for Dads:

  • Parenting superpowers and how to use them in guiding parenting

  • Balancing autonomy and control in parenting

  • The use of natural consequences in peaceful parenting

  • Importance of addressing the root cause of child behavior

  • Development of decision-making skills in children

  • The benefits of positive reinforcement

  • The limitations of traditional forms of punishment

  • Empathy and kindness in child-rearing

  • Impulse control in children

  • The relationship between how people want to be treated and how to treat children.

Like this episode? You can check out more of our Dad Podcasts.

Will Braunstein, A Dad’s Path: Hello, and welcome to another episode of A Dad’s Path podcast. I’m Will Braunstein. Today I’m here with Sarah Rosensweet, a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker-educator, and the host of the top-rated parenting podcast, the Peaceful Parenting podcast, which is something I know we all strive for. She founded her coaching, her peaceful parenting in 2013, and she offers private one-on-one coaching courses, membership. She’s helped thousands of families worldwide. You can check her out at

The last thing I’ll say is she offers a free course for our listeners, which I will put in the show notes, How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids, so the very least, check out the show notes. Welcome, Sarah.

Sarah Rosensweet, Peaceful Parenting: Oh, thanks for having me.

Will: Thanks for joining us. I really like- the reason I wanted to have you come on is I saw your website, I listen to your podcast a little bit, but you have this parenting superpower quiz, [chuckles] which– I’ve seen a lot of quizzes online and they’re usually a little, I don’t know, BuzzFeedy or not a lot of substance. No offense to Buzz Feed but yours I really found interesting and I was wondering if we could talk maybe a little bit about the quiz, but more in the context of what parenting superpowers are-

Sarah: Sure.

Will: -and then how you can use that to guide your parenting or help your parenting.

Sarah: One thing that I’ve noticed in my coaching practice is that we can always learn from the things that we do well. I often invite my clients to start a call with sharing a win and we do that in my Facebook groups too because as parents, whilst humans, we’re predisposed to focus on the negative. That’s what’s kept us safe evolutionarily, is we notice all the bad things so that we don’t do them again and keep ourselves safe but as not very helpful in human relationships or in parenting. When we are looking for wins and looking for what we’re doing well, that can really help shift our mindset and, also, we can learn from it. When something goes well, like, “Oh, what did I do differently this time? It was a disaster last time, but it was actually okay this time.” I really think it helps us to just shift our mindset.

Honestly, so many parents beat themselves up when they mess up or yell at their kids or don’t respond in the way that they would like to. They think that they’re going to do better by making themselves feel worse. That never ever works. The only time I’ve ever seen parents make improvements is when they come to themselves with compassion, even when they mess up. I just like the idea of the superpower because you might you might suck at one thing, but there are going to be be things that you are really good at.

Will: No, absolutely. I think that’s the right attitude for sure, start with the wins and– With it, could you give some examples of what superpowers you see typically or–

Sarah: Sure.

Will: What are some superpowers?

Sarah: The ones that we identify in the quiz are superpowers of connecting, self-regulation. Self-regulation doesn’t mean, this is what we talk about in the free course that you mentioned, self-regulation doesn’t mean that you never get upset or frustrated with your kids. It just means that you know how to calm yourself when you do get upset or you try to calm yourself so that you can respond rather than react out of anger when your kid won’t brush their teeth, or whatever the thing is, welcoming feelings, which is really important in terms of helping kids develop resilience.

Resilience, sometimes I think parents get confused about what emotional resilience is and they think that it’s not getting upset about things but really true resilience is that you get upset and then you recover. That’s what you need to have, that ability to recover after difficulties and frustrations so that you are willing to try new things and hard things. Life is always throwing curve balls at us and we need to be able to, “No, I can handle this.”

Welcoming our children’s feelings and what that looks like is, they’re upset about something small like you’ve said no more cookies today, or something like that, and they’re crying and crying, often we have this temptation to either say, “Okay, fine, you can have another cookie,” which is stopping the feelings or to say like, “Stop crying, you already had one cookie. Consider yourself lucky that you had one at all. Some children don’t get any cookies,” or whatever. That’s also stopping the feelings.

Those two things, whether it’s being permissive like, “Yes. Okay, you can have another cookie,” or whether it’s being more authoritarian and telling the kid to, suck it up buttercup kind of thing. They’re the flip sides of the same coin, which is stopping the feelings. Welcoming feelings, the opposite of that would look like, “Oh, my goodness, you love cookies so much.” Probably, a nutritionist out there is going to be saying we shouldn’t limit food choices or whatever. I’m just using this as an example. “Oh, you love cookies so much and you wish you could eat the whole box of cookies. I know sweetheart but we’re not going to have any more cookies today,” and just empathizing and welcoming those feelings, welcoming those tears.

Then the fourth superpower that we’ve identified is in setting limits, which is being able to– It relates to the welcoming feelings because you have to be able to tolerate those feelings of discomfort when your child doesn’t like a limit that you’ve set. Setting limits can be tricky because we don’t want to be the bad guy or we feel bad when our kids are upset. Another part of setting limits, I think that’s important to think about, is choosing the right limits to set.

Of course, that- I say the right limits for your family, there’s no right or wrong answer, but when we stop and think about, okay, what do we want? Is this limit that I’m setting, is it reasonable? Is it necessary? Is it developmentally appropriate? To be able to stop and think, when your kid is doing something or asking for something, stop and think, is this a limit that I want to set and is this important? For me, that comes down to health and safety.

Will: Got you. I love this. I feel like we could spend the whole podcast on each of these superpowers. [laughs]

Sarah: Yes. Sometimes I think we have superpowers that are our– I was thinking about this when you had said you wanted to talk about superpowers. I think my superpower is patience. I’m an extremely patient person and also sometimes that’s gotten me into trouble [chuckles] so there’s always– My daughter, she’s fine with me talking about this because she’s public about it, but she has ADHD and we were really late getting a diagnosis because I’m so patient. I think other parents when she was younger would’ve said like, “What the heck is going on here? We need to figure this out.” I just was so patient and so I kind of– I see that as my superpower, but also like, Oh, I wish I hadn’t been quite so patient because it would’ve been useful to her to understand that she had a DHD from a younger age.”

Will: I know. That’s super interesting. Strengths often have a little bit of weakness associated with them. That got me thinking, as we were talking about this, you have a superpower and you have a partner, maybe a spouse, a husband, wife, whatever it is, and they have a superpower and they’re different. They’re much different often, I think, or they can be.

Do you have advice for communicating that, or say, if you haven’t taken the superpower quiz, but you recognize, “Hey, this is the strength I have. This is an area I’m weaker on. This is strength you have,” how do we combine that? I know it’s a loaded question. [chuckles] How do you have a relationship but- you understand– Yes.

Sarah: I think when you’re looking at the inverse of superpowers, which would be your weakness, I guess, I think to recognize that your partner’s doing the best they can is so important. Again, that’s what I’ve seen over and over again when– It’s pretty common for one parent to find peaceful parenting, and then maybe their partner is a little hesitant or later to come on board but when you’re so excited about this new thing and see how well it’s working for you, there’s a tendency to try to drag your partner along with you.

Often what that looks like is, “You’re doing it wrong. You’re not supposed to say that,” and, “Don’t yell at him,” or whatever the thing is, but really, I will get back to your actual question, but I just want to frame it, really you have to recognize also that your partner is doing the best they can and to be compassionate with them when they’re having a hard time because anytime a parent is acting in a way that is less than ideal, it’s because they’re actually having a hard time.

We say that about the kids in peaceful parenting, they’re not giving me a hard time. They’re having a hard time. That’s the same with a parent who’s yelling at the five-year-old because he won’t put his shoes on or whatever. That parent doesn’t want to be acting like that. They’re just stressed and frustrated and they haven’t learned the self-regulation skills yet that they need to be more patient. As a partner recognizing, “Okay, maybe my superpower is patience, not so much my partner’s, how can I be compassionate with them when they are having a hard time?”

Then further, I think, learning like, “Okay, I’m stronger in this area, I’m going to go in and help and tap him out.” You might walk in and say something like, ”Ugh, it looks like you and,” let’s say it’s a dad, “you and daddy are having a hard time getting ready. How can I help?” Really just recognizing like, you might have strengths, your partner has strengths, you have weaknesses, your partner has weaknesses, and how can you support each other when things are hard? “Let me take over here” in a kind way, “Let me take over here. Go take five minutes, pull yourself off, and then we’ll come back together.”

Will: Absolutely. I like that. That’s a very elegant way to take over, not [laughs] “Let me do this. You’re yelling.”

Sarah: “You’re doing it wrong.”

Will: Yes, yes.

Sarah: No one responds well to that. That’s what we’ve learned is anytime anyone feels shame, they just get more dysregulated.

Will: It makes sense. It’s interesting because it’s not always easy to be compassionate all the time towards your kids, you see. [chuckles] I’ve talked to parents and even same with me, unfortunately, but, yes, I’m doing the best I can and part of it is when my child or I hear of other kids who are acting up or this or that and we talk about how, hey, these are still kids, they don’t have fully developed brains and all. That’s what’s happening right now. It’s going to be a long time still, and our brains are fully developed, and yet we’re having some trouble showing compassion sometimes. It also flips it on the head a little bit saying, “Hey, show compassion towards your partner. You have trouble sometimes–” Speaking for myself, I have trouble sometimes. It’s not always easy.

Sarah: Yes, 100%, and it doesn’t mean that we’re not going to try to do better or that we don’t want to support our partner to do better. It just means right then, in that moment when they’re having a hard time, is not the time to get suggestions. [chuckles]

Will: That’s right. [chuckles] That’s a really good lesson as well for anyone. Your kids, there are times they just can’t listen and you want to be communicating to them, and it’s going to be a brick wall no matter what you do. It doesn’t matter if you go really loud or if you– They’re just not–

Sarah: Yes. So often parents are afraid in the moment like, “Well, I’ve got to get them to see,” or, “I’ve got to teach them,” but most of the time it’s– I actually have this saying, “It’s not always a teachable moment,” right? [chuckles] Because if the kids dysregulated, or sometimes they even, once they calm down, they know what they did wrong and they don’t need you to bring it back into their face and say, “Oh, this thing that happened this morning–” that they’ve already learned what they need to learn from it.

Will: Yes. It’s like what are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to make sure your child learns something and teach a lesson or are you trying to get anger out of your system and communicate that, right? Because yes, often, I think you want to say, “Hey, you messed up,” and they say, “Yes, I know. Please don’t bring it up,” and you still want to bring it up, then it’s like– No, they learned the lesson.

Sarah: That comes out of our own fear, I think, that wanting to bring it up and, “Well, what if they never learn?” I think that talks to a wider idea, which is– There’s a book that’s called The Carpenter and the Gardener. It’s metaphor for parenting. I think it’s Alison Gopnik, I’m pretty sure. She talks about, there are carpenter parents who think they need to build the child, right? Then there are the gardener parents who believe that everything the child needs to know is within them, and we just have to provide that right amount of water and light and temperature and all that stuff. Coming back to that, does it have to be a teachable moment? Do you believe that your child can learn from things themselves or does it have to be pounded into them like a hammer in a nail?

Will: What’s your take on that?

Sarah: A gardener all the way. [laughs]

Will: Yes. Yes.

Sarah: Yes. People want to be good, right? Going back to what I said before, people want to be good. Nobody wants to be a jerk. If they are acting like a jerk, it’s because they’re low on resources or they’re dysregulated or whatever. Same for us, for us as parents.

Will: Yes, I know. It’s funny, it’s easy to just– [chuckles] It’s like, are you hungry? Are you tired? It’s same with I didn’t get sleep and now I’m grumpier.

Sarah: To your point about brains not being developed yet. Immature brains are very easily dysregulated and it can be messy.

Will: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. The other thing I think about are just your child doesn’t have that many outlets, especially when they’re young. They go to school maybe, or preschool, and maybe see a few people there. They don’t have a ton of autonomy so acting up or, I don’t know if acting up is quite the right word, but that’s a way of showing some autonomy, some power almost, something that they’re experimenting with, learning with as well. Do you have thoughts, do you think of a power struggle at all or anything along those lines?

Sarah: Yes. I read somewhere that kids get over 200 directives a day, which is 200 times a day people are telling them what to do, and especially if you’re strong-willed and– I’m really strong-willed. If my husband tells me to do something that I was, even if I was planning on doing it and I already wanted to do it, if he tells me that I have to do something, I could feel myself going, “You can’t tell me what to do.” [chuckles] I think that it really is hard for kids sometimes that they do get frankly bossed around for most of the day. “Do this. go here. Don’t do that. Don’t do this.” As parents, as much as possible, and I mentioned before when we were talking about limit setting, for me, it comes back to health and safety limits.

My personal guideline when my kids were little was, is this harmful to themselves, people, or property? Just having that guideline, when you can stop and think about, “Okay, do they really need to brush their hair? Who cares if they wear the wrong kind of footwear?” If their feet get cold, they’ll learn for next time, or maybe you’ve got the jacket in the backpack and they said they didn’t want to wear the jacket and you say, “Okay, just pop it in your backpack in case you get cold.” As humans, we crave autonomy and I’m really trying as much as possible to give them that autonomy whenever we can, and more than just red cup or blue cup. I mean that’s important too.

Alfie Kone says, “Kids should have the ability to make decisions that make us gasp a little.” I just love that. I love that line. When you were saying before about when kids will act out because they need more autonomy, if we are really controlling and rigid with kids, they will use whatever means they have at their disposal to try to get some of that balance back. The only three things kids really have control over are sleep, toileting, and eating. I know those are three areas where parents do have a lot of struggles. When you think about, “Okay, if I’m having trouble in those areas, maybe it’s a reflection of my kid doesn’t have enough autonomy in other areas where I am being more controlling.”

Will: Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. It’s the balance of how do you build some independence and what you want from your child because that’s the type of adult you want, an independent adult, or one who can at least be on their own, somewhat. It’s like you don’t want them to be super dependent. They don’t want that. It’s not good for them, not good for you. Yes, the balance is, I guess, maybe you have to almost recognize there are going to be some power struggles or sometimes where you’re going to say no and they’re, like you said, the decision’s going to make you gasp, whatever it is. but it’s almost like prepping yourself to be ready for that. You know what I mean?

Sarah: Yes, yes. The only way you get to be good at making decisions is by making decisions.

Will: Yes.

Sarah: Sometimes you make a bad decision and you learn from it. Of course, I’m talking age-appropriate stuff. We’re not going to let kids, “Oh, you don’t want to wear your bike helmet? Fine. You can get a head injury.

Will: You’re right. [chuckles]

Sarah: We’re not talking about stuff like that. Can I speak just a little tiny bit to the independence thing that you just mentioned?

Will: Please, yes.

Sarah: I’m going to say, yes, we give our kids as much autonomy as possible, and also independence comes from the feeling of being nurtured and having your needs met. There are lots of times where little kids, I mean, your kids are young, you probably see this, where they’re like, “No, I want you to do it for me,” or, “I need help with that,” and you know they can do it themselves. They’re capable, physically capable of doing it themselves, but anytime a child is asking you to do something for them that you know they can do themselves, that’s a bid for connection and nurturing. If we can recognize that and not, “Ugh, you’re a big boy. You know how to put your pants on yourself.” It’s like, “Oh, you want a little help today?” You can say something like, “I know you can do this yourself and I’m happy to help you,” because really that true independence comes out of the feeling of all of my needs will be met by my caregiver.

Will: That’s awesome. I love that. I think we’ve all gone through that and our kids, as they get older, you want to, “Yes, you can do this. You need to learn how to do this. You’re a nine-year-old. You’re a six-year-old,” whatever it is, “you have to learn to put your pants on.” They know how, to your point, you know they know how but you don’t make that connection always in terms of saying, “Hey, this is what they’re really asking.” They’re saying words, but that’s not really what they want.

Sarah: Yes. They want to be- will you still be there for me? Do I matter? Are you going to take care of me? Kids have such a strong natural drive for independence. I mean, look at any two-year-old on the planet, “I do it. I do it. I want to do it myself.” They have a strong natural drive for independence. We don’t need to worry that– I’m not talking about we’re doing things for them that they want to do themselves. I’m saying when they say, “I need help,” or, “I want you to do it for me,” that we’re like, “Okay, I can help you. I can meet that need.” We really don’t need to worry they’re not going to be independent if we’re just meeting those nurturing needs.

Will: Yes, absolutely. This isn’t always easy to keep in mind, but there’s going to be a time, way before you’re ready, where it’s ridiculous for you to help them put their pants on. They’re too old and they’re not going to want you to, saying, “No, mom.”

Sarah: I was just talking to my 18-year-old the other day. I mentioned to you before we started recording that he’s on a gap year and he’s working full-time. He often will stay at his friend’s house who works with him, and he said, “Oh, you know, this morning,” his friend’s mom said, “Oh, I wish I had known that you two were getting up early. I would’ve made you a big breakfast.” He said, “Mom, I was so uncomfortable. I don’t want her going out of her way for me.” I said, “Honey, you got to understand when we have kids this age, we still want to make ourselves relevant.”


Sarah: There’s still going to be– Let her make you breakfast. Her kids are growing up and she probably still wants to feel like she’s helping you and taking care of you. He was like, “Oh, okay, mom. I get it.” [chuckles]

Will: Yes, that’s wonderful. Maybe one way to think about that from a parental point of view is, my youngest is five, so I have, call it, 10 more years of making breakfast until she’s totally on her own, so that’s a certain number of breakfast that I’m going to be able to make. That’s a big number, but then once she’s 18 or 15 or whatever it is, when she’s making her breakfast all on her own, maybe I have 20 more breakfasts, maybe it’s 10 more breakfasts I’ll make in my whole life for her. You know what I mean? If you can get that mindset, I mean, it’s–

Will: Yes, and you never know when the last one’s going to be either. I have a cute story about my middle son. It always seems most of my stories about him. [chuckles] When he was younger he used to always want me to come and tuck him in after he got in bed. I think this happened when he was maybe 9 or 10. One day I noticed he would get in bed and then he would shout, “Mama, tuck in, tuck in.” Then I would go in and I would tuck him in. One day I noticed, it’s been a few weeks since he called me for a tuck-in. The next day I said, “I think I missed your last tuck in. I noticed you don’t call me anymore to tuck me in.” He was just like, whatever. Then that night he called me, “Mama, tuck in,” and I went to tuck him in and he said, “That was the last one.” [laughs]

Will: Oh, wow. That’s cute.

Sarah: Yes.

Will: That’s nice.

Sarah: That was so sweet.

Will: Yes, that really is.

Sarah: To your point, they get older and they don’t need us as much, which is normal. I always say that the hard part about parenting is you’re trying to make yourself unnecessary [chuckles] if you’re doing it right.

Will: Absolutely. I want to switch gears a little and maybe jump back to some of the helping your kids with emotion regulation.

Sarah: Sure.

Will: We know what, their brains aren’t ready. They’re not developed. We know we need to be more patient. We have some tools at our disposal and we need to keep learning and find the tools that work for us. How do you deal with that with your kids? How do you start teaching them emotion regulation? I know it depends developmentally where they’re at, and all that sort of thing, but is modeling a big part? How would you frame that for a new dad?

Sarah: What I know, what I’ve learned about the nervous system, the nervous system is what helps us regulate ourselves. Our nervous system is either experiencing what we’re going through as a threat, even our own uncomfortable feelings of not getting to watch another show or having to go to bed, or whatever, that our own uncomfortable feelings can register as a threat to our nervous system. When our nervous system detects a threat, it launches into fight, flight, or freeze. That’s our protective mechanism when we’re under threat. The nervous system can’t tell the difference between a tiger that’s just jumped out in front of you on the path and not having more iPad time or whatever. It still will register as a threat.

Self-regulation comes when we can recognize that we’re hijacked by fight, flight, or freeze, and bring ourselves back to calm. For our children– That’s self-regulation. The only way that you learn self-regulation is through co-regulation. Co-regulation is what we do with babies like babies crying and we’re rocking the baby, we’re making soothing sounds, patting the baby on the back. Whatever we’re doing to soothe our baby that’s soothing, that’s co-regulation. That’s our baby learning. That’s when the process starts, is that process of learning self-regulation, is through experiencing regulation with somebody else’s calm.

When our child is upset, the best thing we can do to teach them self-regulation is stay calm ourselves and really work on that. “This is not an emergency. I can handle this. If my child’s unhappy with the limit I’ve set or whatever, and just practicing, trying to keep our nervous systems calm because our nervous systems are always talking to each other’s nervous systems. Experiencing that co-regulation is how a child first learns to self-regulate.

Will: I love that staying calm is not always easy, but if you put yourself in their shoes and in your shoes saying, “Hey, this is the role I’m playing right now,” as a parent, as a teacher, “this is how I can best serve myself and my family and my kid, most importantly.” The calm makes sense. Then there’s empathy, which is really important as well. I want to talk a minute about empathy, but in the context we’re just speaking of of being calm and helping your child when they’re going wild or whatever, how would you frame the role of empathy in that?

Sarah: Yes, so a lot of people wouldn’t– When they think about teaching children self-regulation skills, they think about things like, I know there are lots of child-friendly exercises like pretend you’re blowing on a hot chocolate and then you’re smelling the hot chocolate. Those blowing out the birthday candles sorts of exercises, tools that are helpful but nobody wants to calm down unless they feel understood. That’s where empathy comes in. You can teach your child all of the strategies in the world to calm themselves but nobody– Think about the last time you’re upset. If someone said to you, “Just calm down, Will.” You would probably get even more upset.

What you want to do when you talk about empathy, that’s so important, that’s actually really the second step. The first is staying calm yourself, and then the second is to empathize with your upset child. Empathy doesn’t mean you have to agree. Most of the time you won’t agree because it’ll seem like something silly and childlike that they’re upset about but really trying to let them know that you understand and that, I love the phrase, “Of course, you’re upset that you can’t have more iPad time. I totally understand.” Then I always recommend that we excise the word but from our vocabulary [chuckles] because but just erased all the empathy that you just gave.

“Of course, you’re upset that you can’t keep watching TV, and at the same time, it is time to turn it off and get ready for bed.” I say, “And at the same time,” instead of but, so just really trying to understand that little kids get upset about things that seem silly to us but they’re important to them and that’s really appropriate. Small children have small problems and those are like the training wheels for bigger problems as they get older. When you’re empathizing, you’re welcoming feelings. You’re not telling them to suck it up or giving in and so that becomes part of that bigger piece of teaching that emotional resilience by welcoming those feelings and empathizing.

Will: I like that. That’s what you need to do. Stay calm and have that empathy. It’s not always easy to do but I like your approach. The last topic I wanted to bring up that’s on my mind are consequences. Your child did something wrong and you’re not punishing them necessarily, but you want to set the right consequence so they understand why they shouldn’t do what they did. I’d like to ask about ones that aren’t so clear. If one child hits another, for example, and you know that’s coming from something else, but how do you find the consequence that’s appropriate to something like that or do you sometimes just throw in the towel and say, “Hey, that was a teachable moment they know. They don’t need to hear it again from you,” kind of thing?

Sarah: Yes, so I don’t like to think of that as throwing in the towel, but in peaceful parenting, we don’t use consequences. We believe in kind firm limits without punishment. Punishment and consequences have come to become synonymous in our culture today but the consequences that we do believe in are natural consequences. If I could just make a differentiation for your listeners about the difference between consequences and natural consequences, natural consequences have come with no involvement from us.

If you forget your lunch, the natural consequence is that you’re hungry. If you go outside without a raincoat and it’s raining, the natural consequence is that you get wet. If you throw your toy and it breaks, the natural consequence is that your toy is broken. To your example, if you hit your sibling, the natural consequence is that your sibling is hurt. Those are the natural consequences. For reasons why we– I can send you an article if your listeners are interested in all the reasons why we don’t use punishment because I think that would be like another hour, if we could discuss for like another hour.

Will: Yes, please do. I’ll I’ll put it in the show notes. Yes, thank you.

Sarah: I’ll send you an article about it but we really believe that, back to what I was saying before, is that kids want to do the right thing and that the discipline that we believe in peaceful parenting is actually just teaching and looking at the root of the issue of whatever’s happening. If you have hitting, you might look at sibling rivalry, you might look at do you need to have better sharing and property guidelines if it was like they’re hitting because of a toy. Do you need to, I mean, I could go on, do you need to be closer by if the kids are playing together because it tends to get out of hand?

Is it a question of just emotional immaturity and poor self-regulation, or rather in this case, it might be impulse control that we’re talking about? It doesn’t start to develop until between the ages of five and seven for a typical child. Some kids seem like they have better impulse control because they’re not as spirited or not as sensitive or emotional but really impulse control doesn’t even come online in terms of brain development until between the ages of five and seven.

Going back to consequences in peaceful parenting, we believe that you don’t need to make people feel bad to teach them something. That’s really the whole big idea of consequences, is I’ve got to make an impression, I’ve got to make sure they know this isn’t okay so I’m going to cause some measure of pain, whether it’s a timeout or taking something away. In peaceful parenting, we really don’t believe that that’s how children learn best. You think about like if you were at work and you made a mistake, would you do a better job if your boss took you in front of everyone else, yelled at you, made you stay late, and dock your pay? Probably, not. [chuckles]

Will: Right, yes.

Sarah: Would you do better if your boss said, “Hey, you know that report wasn’t what I was hoping for. What’s going on? How can I support you to do a better job? Are there some challenges that are coming up for you?” That would make you a better employee.

Will: Absolutely. Just thinking about it, again, how do regular people want to be treated? Same thing with your little people, your little kids. No, that’s great. I really liked what you said about natural consequences of hitting in particular. That was one that really– I’ve talked to a lot of other parents and had other guests on when we talked about natural consequence of hitting but I think that’s really beautiful that the natural consequence of hitting your sibling is you hurt your sibling, as simple as that.

Sarah: It is. This is the thing too, so say one kid hits the other kid and you haven’t learned about peaceful parenting and you say, “Okay, you’ve lost your TV privileges for the rest of the day.” It’s possible that if you are harsh enough, you might get a kid to stop hitting or doing the undesirable behavior because of what you’ve done. Although with strong-willed kids, punishments tend to backfire because they don’t want to be bossed around. Also, we just talked about impulse control and that not really coming online until they’re a little bit older.

Let’s just say for argument’s sake, you are able to get your kid to stop hitting by using punishment. What you’ve just taught your child is that what happens when I hit my brother is something bad happens to me. It’s all about me. It’s not about my brother. What we want to teach kids is what happens when you hit your brother is it hurts your brother. That raises children into adults who care about other people and their community, not just about what’s in it for me. That’s really like at the base of consequences, and also, the flip side, which is rewards, is that I should do things or not do things because of how it affects me, not I should do things or not do things because how it affects other people or my community or property or whatever.

Honestly, if you look around at the world today, I think a lot of problems that we see are because people have been raised to think about themselves before they think about other people.

Will: That’s wonderful. That’s exactly the right– There’s two mindsets you can have. You’re right, you could be self-focused or you could be focused and understanding that you’re part of this big world and how you can impact it. I didn’t necessarily make that connection between rewards and punishment in that, but I think you’re right, you can start teaching it and modeling it at such an early age because you already are teaching something. Your point, are you teaching punishment? Are you teaching it affects you or are you teaching that, “Hey, this is affecting other people which will affect you but it’s not all about you.”

Sarah: Yes, and in the hitting example, you can say, “Oh, my goodness, look at your brother, he’s crying. I know you were upset that he took your toy.” At the same time, “No hitting. You can come and get me and I’ll help you if he takes your toy. Your brother’s crying, what can you do? Can you help your brother feel better?” Then you can also invite a repair. Then it also helps your child feel like a good person again, because that’s the other thing about punishment, is it makes them feel like a bad person. When someone feels like a bad person, they act more worse.

Will: Absolutely, and it’s just not a good feeling. Again, put yourself in your kid’s shoes and it makes a lot more sense, I think.

Sarah: Just because I’ve heard objections from many so parents when they’re wrapping their minds around this no-punishment thing. If anyone who’s listening is like, “Well, that’s just like saying they can just hit their brother whenever they want if you don’t do a punishment or consequence.” Going back to what I said before was your kids want to be good. That’s our human nature is to be good and connected with the people that we love and who love us. If we’re acting out of alignment with that, it’s because something else is going on.

Think about if you were, I don’t know if you have a partner, but say you came home from work one day, and you had a really nasty, horrible day, and you were kind of testy and a little bit snappish and rude to your partner when your partner asked you a question. What would the impression be if your partner said, “Hey, don’t talk to me like that, Will,” or if your partner said something like, “Oh, my goodness, it seems like you’ve had a really hard day. What’s going on?” If your partner responded with compassion, you wouldn’t think, “Oh, great, now I can just talk to my partner in a nasty way, whenever I want and I’ll just get away with it.” You would think, “Oh, gosh, I feel so understood, I feel so loved,” because nobody wants to act like a jerk. We just don’t, and including little kids who hit their siblings. They feel bad and they don’t want to do that.

Will: That’s right. I like that mindset, and if we can keep it in our heads as parents say, “Okay, why are they acting like this? We know they don’t want to be unhappy. We know they don’t want to make us unhappy but they’re trying to communicate something. Something’s going on. What is it?” The last thing I want to ask you about is still only consequences, but how warning of consequences or making your children aware of consequences, the balance of that, and breeding anxiety in your kids. Say, “Hey, we’re going to be late if you don’t get your shoes on, and if we’re late, we’re not going to get a spot in the parking lot,” or whatever it is. You’re creating these situations, you’re trying to make sure they understand why it’s important but at the same time, you don’t want to turn them into these worriers.

Do you have thoughts on that or how to balance those things?

Sarah: Yes, that’s a great thing to think about for parents because what the research shows on anxiety is that it’s part nature, part nurture. Some kids are just born with a little bit more of a cautious, anxious disposition, and also, it’s something that we give our kids by how we act towards them like, “Be careful. [unintelligible 00:32:54]” That can really make a kid anxious. The same was what your example of there’s the natural limits of time and reality. Then there’s also how we are projecting our own anxiety.

In your examples that you just gave, what I hear is a parent who’s really anxious about being late and not getting the spot in the parking lot, what I would say in that, and I know this isn’t exactly like that, I think I’m taking a different direction than how you’re asking me, but managing our own anxiety is how we’re not going to pass it on to our kids. Yes, there are realities of timing. We don’t want to be late.

Maybe we have to then find a different parking spot and go in and sign our kid in. Then we’re late for work, and then our boss is unhappy with us or whatever, but really trying to manage our own anxiety in the moment.

Then I know, this is just an example but I’d say, “Look at your morning and if this is a pattern, maybe you have to make some changes in your morning.” Get up a little earlier or not try to do as much in the morning or whatever.

Will: Absolutely. I think you answered it directly, actually, with what you said, separate your own anxiety, if you have it, where is this coming from. Then you can still say, “Hey, This is the consequence,” but if you’re, “This is the consequence,” and they sense that anxiety from you, that’s a lot different than the other approach.

Sarah: Being late is such a trigger for so many parents. As I just said, figure out what it is about your morning, why it’s always a problem, but also, is it really an emergency? Because a lot of the time it’s not. Okay, we’re going to be five minutes late, do we really want to start off our day with yelling and panic or can we just be five minutes late, and it’s not really a big deal.

Will: Absolutely. Yes, it’s always how big of a deal is this really. The scheme of things it’s almost always not, right? Just in general with parenting, it feels like it, maybe in life even. [chukles] The amount of times we worry about things that just don’t come to fruition is pretty amazing.

Sarah: Yes.

Will: Well, Sarah, thank you so much for joining us. This was really incredible. I’m excited actually just to relisten myself here. I know our listeners are going to enjoy it. Listeners, go to and learn more. You can go to our show notes. That’ll be great and we’re going to have How to Stop Yelling, a free course for you guys, and some other information as well, putting the article we discussed but lots of good information.