Discipline with no drama.  Sounds too good to be true? Well, raising kids would be no fun without any drama, but many of us could do with just a little less. If this rings true for you, consider reading Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson’s “No Drama Discipline.”  Modern parents will find this book to be the perfect primer.  Readers learn how to handle routine behavioral issues utilizing the latest concepts in interpersonal biology.

“No Drama Discipline” is a practical and lighter read than other books by this well qualified NYT bestselling team.  Keeping it simple, the authors include cartoon depictions of typical family scenarios and key directions to manage behavior. This makes their book fairly easy to read at the end of a working parent’s day.   Their “top 20” discipline mistakes section–and the authors’ own “epic parenting fails” –will almost certainly make your own parenting missteps feel lighter. The book also includes a handy “refrigerator sheet,” which you can tear out and hang where you can see it when you need it most.

The authors start out their book by asking you to rethink the concept of discipline.  Discipline is viewed by them (and others) as teaching children a way of life.  In particular, discipline is in large part about learning how to handle emotions.  Children rely on us to teach them how to manage strong emotions, how to understand and interpret their responses to life. Simple, right?  Well, the authors teach you how to do this—powerful stuff! For those interested, there is ample coverage of the neuroscientific research to support their approach to parenting.

Siegel and Bryson’s book details self regulation, proactive parenting, connected limit setting—all concepts that nurture a child’s development and our own relationship with them.   What a parenting paradigm shift when we chose to view our tantruming child as one who is suffering and therefore in need of our compassion! The authors guide you to recognize that such moments are opportunities to teach self-regulation and ultimately independence.  They are moments for a parent to exercise and model what Siegel calls “mindsight,” the ability to develop personal insight as well as empathy for the other.  To be clear, we are not talking about overindulgence or failure to set limits.  Rather limit setting that is delivered with love. If this sounds appealing to you, know that the book will guide you towards being a more connected and compassionate parent, willing to seek to understand a child’s perspective while still effectively setting limits.

Do consider this or any other of this teams’ books that intrigue you—the approaches suggested are better than just trying to slug it out on your own and really come in handy on those days when you need a parenting play book.  In fact, putting these techniques into play might be more than a primer for a happier home.  To me, this book represents a blueprint for building lifelong supportive and connected relationships with our children.

Ameeta Ganju, MD
Pediatrics Department
Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center