Book Club

Book Club: No Bad Kids, Toddler Discipline Without Shame, by Janet Lansbury (Session 1)

Book Club is held generally on a biweekly basis in our closed Facebook group: Gentle Parenting of WNY.

*Summaries are often statements by the author pulled right from the chapter being discussed. These statements, for me, carry weight and often are what the questions end up being about. Some questions, too, may be questions the author asks the readers.

Session 1:

2. This our first session for No Bad Kids, toddler discipline without shame, by Janet Lansbury. This book club discussion is for Chapters 1-3. The posts will be numbered, so you know in what order they were posted. Please feel free to comment on any post, or post your own questions/discussion topics. Remember, when a post is commented on, it bumps it to the top of the page, so the posts will most likely look out of order as the session goes on. To begin, I will post a brief outline of the chapters. If you are interested, you can visit for other gentle parenting resources. This session will go until 10:00pm, but the posts will remain up and available for anyone to read and comment after that time. Let’s get started, and thanks for joining!
5. Chapter 1: No Bad Kids

-“Lack of discipline is not kindness, it is neglect.” ~Magda Gerber

-A predictable daily routine enables a baby/toddler to anticipate what is expected of him.

-Don’t take unwanted behavior personally.

-Speak in the first person when talking with your child.

-A toddler leanrs discipline best when he experiences natural consequences for his behavior.

-Those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 were much more likely to be aggressive by age 5.
6. Chapter 2 Summary: Why Toddlers Push Limits

-Children lack impulse control, and often have unusual ways of expressing their needs and feelings.

-Children are easily overwhelmed by impulses bigger and stronger than they are.

-Respecting children means understanding their stage of development.

-Never take a child’s limit-pushing behavior personally.
7. Chapter 3 Summary: Talking to Toddlers

-Talk normally; avoid baby talk. You want to model the language appropriately for your child.

-Use the word ‘no’ sparingly. 

-Offer real choices to your child; this provides them with control over their environment.

-Acknowledging your child’s feelings and desires helps her to feel understood.

-These first years will define your relationship with your child for years to come.
8. The author talks about having a predictable daily routine, and that this is the beginning of discipline. In the Becoming a Gentle Parent classes I talk about the difference between routines and schedules. While it is recommended that a routine is followed, maintaining a strict and inflexible schedule can actually cause problems. What is your daily routine that you follow with your family?
9. How do you feel when your little one acts out in public? How do you react? (Is it the way you want to react? If not, what do you want your reaction to be?)
10. The author talks about not taking unwanted behavior personally, and that if your little one engages in unwanted behavior, to ‘disallow it nonchalantly.’ Today, my daughter and I were at a baby shower. It was pretty overwhelming for my daughter (who is 3), and at one point when we were sitting at our table she began hitting me (I forget why). I tried not to react too strongly, but after the third hit I asked her if she wanted me to move away from her. She didn’t answer (just stared) and I turned back to my food. She hit me again, so I repeated my question. This time, she said ‘yes.’ (For me to move away from her). So I scooted my chair away. She could no longer reach me to hit me, and my mother and sister chimed in to bring humor to the situation, defusing it, and effectively ending that particular scenario. I’m not sure how ‘nonchalant’ I was, but I felt pretty calm, and knew she was hitting me only because she was overwhelmed and frustrated. Has there been a recent situation where you remained nonchalant when your child was acting out?
11. Do you speak in the first person when talking with your child? Or do you refer to yourself as ‘mommy’ or ‘daddy’? (As in, “Honey, can you bring mommy that book?” instead of, “Can you bring ME that book?”) I’m always telling parents to speak in the first person, to use “I” statements, as opposed to speaking in the third person or using generalizations. BUT… it’s seems like such a challenging thing to remember! I often find myself speaking in the third person, and then when I realize it I try and refrain my statement, and feel weird that I’m referring to myself as Mommy… after all, I would never speak in the third person when talking with a friend! Do you ever find yourself doing this, too?
12. The author briefly discusses time-out in Chapter 1 (enough to say to not use time-outs). Removing a child from a situation when she is overwhelmed or tired or having trouble staying in control (and staying with her until she regains control) is not time-out…it’s respectful and sensitive. I talk about time-outs in this article, and discuss alternatives such as “time-ins.” Do you use “time-ins” or something similar? How do you handle situations (especially in public) where your little one clearly needs to leave?

Who Benefits from Time-Out?


“We talk through things but I don’t really think it’s time-ins. If we need to leave, we leave lol I either try to get him to walk out calmly or I just help him and pick him up upset. At least so that we can get away from the crowd and talk.”

“I make sure I stay calm, especially in public. I know if he’s having an outburst and we need to leave, it makes it much much easier on us both (I think, at least) if I’m not embarrassed or worked up about it. Toddlers throw fits. It’s life. People shouldn’t judge”

“I have left places due to my child’s behavior. I have also sent a child to a separate room (sometimes to their own room) just to have the kids split up for a little while so they can calm down, or if one in particular is acting inappropriately they need to get away from others until they are prepared to interact appropriately with them. Tonight, for example, my younger daughter knocked down my son’s blocks, so he knocked hers down. I could have dealt with that, but he also supposedly hurt her. I removed him from the room and tried to talk to him but he was too loud with his screaming/crying about being removed that I couldn’t speak with him. So I sent him up to his room and told him to go play up there for a while. I was planning to talk to him about appropriate problem-solving when he was calm. Daddy decided to take a turn, though, when he heard that our son was not calming down up there.”

“I find with my 6 year old, if she is really acting out, she needs some time with me/help getting back on track. I usually offer to read her a book or a snack or hug. Sometimes my husband or I will physically hold her if she cannot seem to control her body and us hurting someone or breaking things.”

13. Since this is a gentle parenting group, I know many here understand the effects of spanking, the research, and why spanking should not be used as a method of discipline. But, I’m still going to bring it up because I really liked this statement from the author: “Purposely inflicting pain on a child cannot ever be done with love. Sadly, however, the child often learns to associate the two.” 🙁
14. Our daughter is 3, and she’s recently gained a new baby brother… so some days it seems as though the limit-pushing is out of control. When it was just her, we could ask her to not do something please, and she would stop, sometimes apologize, or even engage us in conversation about why she shouldn’t be doing whatever it was she had been doing. Nowadays… we ask her to please not kick her legs so close to her baby brother’s head, and we even offer brief reasons why, and then she does it again. And again. It’s become challenging for my husband and I, mostly because this kind of response from her is new. But we know she’s struggling with not being the only child anymore, and she’s adjusting to this new life. We also know that she cannot control her impulses very well (because she’s 3), and often the function of her behavior is to get and maintain our attention. What does your child do that you consider limit-pushing, and how do you handle it?
15. Do you find it difficult to communicate with your toddler? The author makes some recommendations, including talking normally (instead of using baby talk, or “ape talk”). It may seem odd to talk to your toddler the same way you speak to your partner, or your friend, or another adult, but keep in mind you are modeling for your child the correct way to speak. Your toddler can also understand way more than what they can say.
16. The author talks about “turning ‘no’ into ‘yes.’ Do you know how to do this? Instead of actually saying “no” or “don’t,” reframe the sentence so that you are acknowledging the child and offering up what can be done. Here are some ways to do this: How to Say No Without Actually Saying No
17. I’m ending the session here, but posts will remain up for continued discussion. The next session will be September 11, and we will be discussing chapters 4-7. Thank you, everyone!!