What Is Conscious Discipline?

Do you know what conscious discipline is? Find out all about it here so you can apply it to your parenting.
What Is Conscious Discipline?

Last update: 17 March, 2020

Conscious discipline isn’t a fashionable discipline, but it’s a type of discipline necessary for good parenting. As parents, we want to provide our children with the tools they need to have a happy and healthy life.

Parenting has changed since the time of our own childhood. We have access to more parenting resources and information than our parents did when they raised us. One philosophy and resource for parents that’s having a tremendously positive impact on both children and the adults who support them is called conscious discipline.

What is conscious discipline?

It’s recognized as one of the best social-emotional programs available to both schools and parents. Conscious discipline is a social-emotional program that teaches children how to regulate and manage emotions in order to make safe and healthy choices.

However, the first focus is on parents. In other words, to help our children in the best way with this approach, we must first carry out the process on ourselves and our own emotions. Only in this way can we be empowered to help children feel their emotions and work through them.

Conscious discipline versus traditional discipline

Conscious discipline takes a very different approach to the discipline we might have experienced in our own childhood. It has to do with connection rather than punishment.

What Is Conscious Discipline?

When we think about how parents have traditionally responded to the great range of emotions that children feel and display, we’ll surely remember reactions that ranged from extreme anger to hiding our feelings and concerns.

Conscious discipline teaches adults to control their own emotional responses towards their children. This is so that they can be with their child, connect with them, and then work together through the child’s feelings.

Dr. Becky Bailey, author, educator and creator of conscious discipline, discusses how parents should rethink discipline and control themselves before dealing with their children’s behavior. It takes a change in mindset of how we were raised not to think of discipline as punishment, but to think of it as an opportunity to teach lost skills.

Parents use the tools to control their emotions and, in turn, release those calm feelings to their children. The skills that this discipline teaches will ensure that the child remains connected to the parent while the parent teaches and guides the child.

Based on research on the human brain and child development, conscious discipline was designed to make changes in the lives of the adults first, and then the children. Therefore, this approach can truly benefit the entire family.

Why you should use conscious discipline at home

Sometimes the discipline used in parenting can make us feel frustrated or out of control. We may even feel that we’re failing as parents. If any of these situations occur in your home, then conscious discipline is necessary in your parenting:

What Is Conscious Discipline?
  • Power struggle
  • Disobedience
  • Verbal attacks
  • Bullying
  • Physical aggression
  • Difficulty keeping your child’s mind on the task

This discipline can take the frustration and feelings of helplessness out of these everyday parenting moments and turn them into teaching moments.

What are the seven discipline skills?

According to conscious discipline, there are 7 skills that adults need to feel empowered by and become aware of their importance in parenting:

  • Calm
  • Courage
  • Assertiveness
  • Choices
  • Empathy
  • Positive intent
  • Consequences

Consequences in conscious discipline

In traditional discipline there are usually consequences, but this type of discipline has a different approach. Conscious discipline, first and foremost, gives the child a sense of security, compassion and connection. When we, as adults, keep control of our emotions and use all seven skills, then we’ll model the skills we hope to teach.

Not only can adults and children feel better and learn from each other in these times of teaching, but we can also provide our children with a foundation to learn and grow as people on a different level. A child with social-emotional skills can learn anything.

Therefore, using the tools of conscious discipline will not only help your child gain emotional intelligence, but will also prepare him or her for success in a school setting.

Creating a safe place

Creating a safe place for your child is a key component of conscious discipline. A safe place is not a time out. Instead, this is a designated space that you go to with your child to help him change his inner state from annoyed or angry to calm and balanced.

What Is Conscious Discipline?

This space can be something like a cozy corner, a ball chair or a soft mat. Here you can motivate your child to breathe or use a relaxing tool. This is a place where they can practice controlling their big emotions, and it’s somewhere you can encourage your child to visit when he or she is feeling sad, angry, or frustrated.

Conscious discipline strategies

What are some conscious discipline strategies that parents can try right away? Here are some ideas:

  • Model the behavior you’d like to see in your child. Show self-control during difficult times or when the child’s behavior provokes you.
  • Take time to understand the developmental stage your child is in so that you can see things from their perspective.
  • Tell children what you expect of them instead of telling them what they don’t have to do.
  • When children act bossy or cruelly to others, always pay attention to the victim first. Empower that person and then learn how to deal with the situation. After that, talk to the child who is acting cruelly and help him or her to practice clear boundaries and to communicate more usefully.
  • When children don’t seem to hear you, don’t yell at them to get their attention. Address them and make eye contact to form a connection.
  • When you help your child to develop social-emotional skills through conscious discipline, you’re equipping them with tools that can help them thrive and learn. With this discipline, your home will be a much more harmonious place and you’ll feel good about each other.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.