Book Club, Gentle

Book Club: No Bad Kids, Toddler Discipline Without Shame, by Janet Lansbury (Session 2)

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 2:

2. This our second session for No Bad Kids, toddler discipline without shame, by Janet Lansbury. This book club discussion is for Chapters 4-7. 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 4: Baby Discipline, Person to Person

-Parenting is about developing a relationship with another person.

-Just as we are learning about our children, they need to know us.

-A daily rhythm helps children feel a little control over their world.

-Don’t “just say no;” children are capable of understanding reasons/explanations for why certain things can’t happen.


6. Chapter 5: A Toddler’s Need for Boundaries

-A child does not feel free unless boundaries are clearly established.

-Power struggles are a necessary part of the development of self for the child.

-Parents risk fueling the fire by giving too much attention to unwanted behavior.

-Parents need to respond with clarity, composure, and conviction.


7. Chapter 6: The Key to Cooperation

-The secret to enlisting our children’s cooperation is respect.

-No one likes to have things ‘done’ to them; people like to be engaged with and included when things are happening with/to them.

-Talk honestly about everything that will happen (at the doctor’s office, for example).

-Let your child try to do what needs to be done (such as wiping their nose) as opposed to you doing it to and for them.


8. Chapter 7: 5 Reasons to Ditch the Distraction (and what to do instead)

-Distraction is a popular redirection tactic for dealing with unwanted behavior because it can be very effective, but it’s not the best method.

-Distracting underestimates a toddler’s intelligence.

-Narrating situations objectively (sportscasting) is a way to stay calm, empathetic, but firm.

-Acknowledging feelings and the child’s point of view is respectful and effective for letting the child she’s being heard.


9. One of our admins, Alyce Thorp, has been trained in RIE (which is the method Janet Lansbury teaches. Feel free to reach out to Alyce for and guidance and support! Alyce also runs The Backyard Atelier. Check it out!!


10. I recently had a conversation with a friend about feeling guilty when enforcing a boundary, or even ‘losing it’ a little. We both had had similar situations happen, where our children were either climbing/hitting us or their young sibling. Although I felt guilty for being so firm with my daughter, and for getting as mad as I did, after thinking about it overnight I no longer carried as much guilt. She needs to see my full range of emotions, especially how I handle them. Do you ever feel guilt when needing to be firm? Have you recently lost your cool? How did you handle things after the fact?


11. The author talks about it being ok to demand a few minutes of personal time when we need it; that this is part of building an honest, person-to-person relationship with our child. When is the last time you demanded some time to yourself?


12. Another recent conversation I had with a different friend happened to be about how to handle it when our toddlers or preschool-age children use ‘baby talk.’ We had discussed telling our child to speak in their regular voice. The author discusses something very similar in Chapter 4, in response to whining or yelling.  It’s hard to handle things like whining, or baby talk, but in our house we’ve always taken an honest approach and told our daughter that we can’t understand her/can’t hear her correctly/etc. and to use her normal voice. How have you handled these situations?


13. I love that the author mentions asking ourselves, “Would I treat an adult this way?” regarding how we treat or interact with our children.  This has always been my rule of thumb: I’m always thinking, would I say this to my friend? To my husband? No? Then why am I saying this/using this tone with my daughter? Obviously, there are always exceptions, but this rule usually applies to most things.  It really comes down to just treating our children with the same respect with which we’d treat others. Can you think of some examples/phrases of things we might say to our children that would be considered so rude/disrespectful if said to our best friend?


14. Power struggles are TOUGH… but it’s important to remember that they are a natural part of development. If you find yourself in a power struggle, remain calm, but firm, and don’t allow yourself to stay in it. How do you recognize when you’re caught in a power struggle with your child?


15. The author mentions that showing a lot of anger, or saying too much or giving lectures about certain unwanted behavior (in other words, giving it too much attention), can cause the child to repeat it. This is because the attention we’re giving the child after this behavior is reinforcing to the child. When addressing an unwanted behavior, the parent should be straight to the point. On the other hand, we want to give more of our attention and energy to the behavior we want to see!

Give Your Energy to the Behavior You Want to See


16. What things does your child HATE to have done? Our daughter used to resist quite a few things having to do with hygiene, such as baths, clipping nails, brushing teeth, and brushing hair. It’s gotten a lot easier over time (she’s now 3 1/2). We’ve always tried to involve her in the process, as opposed to simply forcing these things on her (though there were times when it felt like we were being more forceful, simply to get them done). But for the most part, we’d say things like: “Would you like to put the toothpaste on your tooth brush?” “Would you like to brush your teeth or should I do it?” “Will you get your bath toys, please?”


17. Do you ever find yourself distracting your child in order to avoid a meltdown? The author discusses how avoiding these conflicts is actually not a very good thing, since it is wasting opportunities for learning how to handle conflict, and is actually phony…not very authentic. She states that facing the conflict, even though it can be hard, is actually the best course of action.  Remaining calm, acknowledging feelings, and being kind but firm are the best ways to approach these situations.


18. I’m ending the session here, but posts will remind up for continued discussion! Our next session will be September 25th, and we will be discussing chapters 8-11.