Discipline. It’s one of the hardest parts of parenting — and the one that comes less naturally than the nurturing. You bring this perfect little person into the world and you want to make sure that they have this magical childhood. You do everything in your power to make sure it is AMAZING.

But the end game? Ensuring our children grow into productive, happy, fulfilled adults. All of the magic in the world won’t make that happen unless discipline is part of your parenting offense — or is it defense?

Taking Charge of Your Child - (cool) progeny

taking charge of your child

Former Baltimore pediatrician Dr. Murray Kappelman has seen a lot of parents struggle with discipline over the years. His latest book, Taking Charge of Your Child: The ONE and ONLY Discipline Book, is devoted to helping parents understand how to cultivate a family culture where the parent is in charge. Dr. Kappelman shares his philosophy in a concrete manner and peppers his narrative with case studies from his years in pediatrics, as a professor of pediatrics at University of Maryland Medical School, and Director of the Division of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics there. He illustrates incidents from infancy to adolescence.

Discipline? Taking charge? Doesn’t that sound archaic in our current parenting culture? Something our grandparents did?

I think — and Dr. Kappelman points it out in his book — that we as a culture have grown to assimilate discipline with taboo. It’s not, and  it’s certainly not about spanking or punishment. ‘Taking charge of your child’ might be a bit misleading if you interpret it out of context. Let me assure you, it doesn’t mean making them into autobots and micromanaging. Quite the opposite, actually.

It’s about establishing a structure where the entire family operates and each individual has a specific role. Specifically, the parents are parents and the children are children. {We all have had times when it’s felt like our kids are running us… or know of a family where this seems to be the case. No parent is perfect.} This book offers a framework for taking back the parenting role. A parental check-in, if you will. Or, for those parenting blips when you feel you have a real ‘wild child’ on your hands, it offers a structure to regain balance.

what resonated with me

As you all know, my kids are toddler and kindergarten ages. We certainly don’t have this whole parenting thing figured out, which is why I appreciated having the opportunity to read Dr. Kappelman’s strategy and consider it in the context of our family dynamic.  Here are a few pieces of his advice that resonated with Pat, myself, and our parenting style:

Focus on the positive. You don’t want your children to feel undervalued and not trusted — so don’t go seeking missteps and behavioral failures. Dr. Kappelman writes: One of the key features in this take-charge philosophy is that parents should focus on the positive side of their child by always creating situations and dialogue that emphasize the “good” behaviors of the child. 

Develop a contract system with your child. Make sure your child understands the rule(s) being set, the rewards, and the consequences. Conducting an ‘exit interview’ — yes, much like at work — allows you to sit down and discuss to make sure there is no confusion or misinterpretation. Even let your child help come up with the rewards and consequences.

Your children are unique. A one-size-fits-all discipline strategy for your whole family will ultimately fail. Dr. Kappelman writes: When you assume the parenting role of taking charge of your child, you need to be acutely aware of that you are taking charge of a specific individual with specific qualities, traits and temperament. This will play a major role in the areas necessitating your control, as well as the rules, rewards and consequences needed by that specific individual, your very specific child.

Consistency is key. Make sure that all who are involved in the care of your child understand your parenting philosophy. Talk through your  system with day-care workers and make sure that mixed messages aren’t being sent. Be on the same page as your spouse or the child’s other parent(s), whatever your personal situation may be.

Relinquishing control. As your child grows into adolescence, relinquish small but significant control to show that you trust them. After all, this is about having our children grow into successful, independent adults. Not helicoptering.

read more!

Dr. Kappelman’s book, Taking Charge of Your Child: The ONE and ONLY Discipline Book, is available on Amazon for $8.99 or the Kindle version for $5.99.

your turn! ask dr. kappelman

I have the opportunity to interview Dr. Kappelman on Friday this week. What questions about discipline do YOU have for him? I’ll be happy to ask them! Just leave a comment here or on our Facebook Page. You can also email your questions to Heather AT coolprogeny.com.


Editor’s Note: This content is sponsored by Dr. Murray Kappelman. Because (cool) progeny is a regional parenting resource, we feel that it’s our responsibility to make other parents aware of different parenting philosophies so they can make informed choices about their parenting styles. As Dr. Kappelman writes in his book, ‘No one is born to be a parent. Parenting is something to be studied, questioned, and learned.’  All opinions in this article are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.