The Fatherly Guide To Disciplining Little Kids

What do we talk about when we talk about how to discipline kids? Well, a lot of stuff. Unpack the baggage the word totes around and there are ideas in there about punishment and consequence, anger and restraint, personal responsibility and excellence. What we talk about when we talk about discipline is, in essence, expectations and the policing of the expectations we thrust onto our children, our partners, and ourselves. It’s fraught.

Fatherly’s guide is a deep dive on petty crime, pettier punishments, and our collective failed attempt to not be punitive with each other (or each others’ kids). It tackles real questions, like how to discipline a toddler and what is positive discipline, but also the history and science behind our presuppositions of the topic. As it turns out, discipline matters enormously to kids and adults alike, fundamentally affecting how all of us see our roles in family and society.


Ask The Goodfather

I Don’t Spank My Kids, But I Do Grab Them Sometimes. Does It Matter?

A dad wonders if he crossed the line with his discipline habits.

Watch Your Words

8 Things A Parent Should Never Say To Their Child

Threatening the loss of love is an obvious no-no, but there are more subtle phrases just as damaging.


Don’t Beat Up Your Ex-Wife’s Husband for Spanking Your Kid

No matter how tempting it is to do something drastic, remember that co-parenting is always the best solution (even when it's the hardest).


Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics Asks Parents for Permission to Beat Kids

A Georgia school has reinstated paddling as a disciplinary action, presumably because communicating like an adult is too hard.


Indiana’s Viral ‘Ass Whooping’ Dad Dwayne Stamper Hid Violence in Plain Sight

How an Indiana man's viral Facebook post spotlit the vicious cycle of violence against children.


Dad Who Goes Viral After Offering ‘Ass Whoopins’ is Simply an Asshole

Not only is he wrong about corporal punishment, but he’s also a spoiled asshole.

What Works & What Doesn’t


Authoritarian Parenting: How Forced Compliance Backfires

When parents value control over a secure relationship with their child, it’s time to rework the discipline toolbox.


The Conscious Discipline Method Helps Parents Think More And Punish Less

It gives you the tools to yell less, think more, and stay in control.

Parenting Styles

This Positive Discipline Model Will Reshape How You Punish Your Kids

The model trains you to stop and consider: What are you aiming for in the long run?


The Simple Strategy That Stopped My Daughter’s Tantrums — And Helped Us Bond

The answer might surprise you.


Bribing Toddlers Is Fine Because It Works and I’m Tired

We love and provide for our kids, but we don't have time for gentle encouragement or teachable moments.


More Chores Are Needed to Build Character in American Kids

The assumption that difficult and physical work breeds good values makes an ass of neither you nor me.


Punishment For Kids Who Don’t Respond To Punishment

More severe does not necessarily mean more effective.


Fatherly Advice: Is It Weird When Mom Snuggles With a Teenager?

Affectionate adolescents aren't the norm, but that doesn't mean reciprocating their affection is coddling.


How to Ignore a Child (Or Use the Silent Treatment) Effectively

Granted, the circumstances have to be just right, but kids can and should sometimes be ignored.


I Tried To Be A Traditional Patriarch And Failed Miserably

For one day, I stopped being an engaged father and husband. I hated it.

Time Out

9 Celebrity Parents on How They Discipline Their Misbehaving Kids

Just because you're famous doesn't mean your kid is going to stop trying to choke out the dog.


I Tried Keeping a Parenting Diary and Realized I Might Be a Bad Father

Keeping a parenting diary for a week is a great way to get insight into parenting techniques. But you might not always like what you see.


How to Say No to Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Grade Schoolers Without Saying “No”

There are times in parenting when saying no as a form of child discipline doesn't make sense. It's better to offer choices and help kids develop reason.


You’re Probably Doing Timeouts Wrong

Timeouts may seem like the perfect solution for child discipline problems, but they’re rarely used correctly, which makes them less than useful.


I Can’t Stop Watching These Awful Parents Shame Their Kids on YouTube

Child shaming videos are a growing trend meant to be a digital act of “tough love,” but they’re actually awful disciplinary exhibitionism and completely disgusting.


Kids Have Changed. Why Hasn’t Parents Approach to Discipline?

Author Katherine Reynolds Lewis has noticed modern kids are behaving differently and is convinced parental discipline should change to meet them.

More Discipline


The Lesson Adrian Peterson Couldn’t Teach America

If Adrian Peterson had done what he did to a misbehaving 18-year-old, he wouldn't be on the Cardinals. He'd be behind bars.


How Child Discipline Has Changed: A Brief History

From "rod and reproof" to trusting in children.


When a Good Family Runs Like a Good Government

The constitutional approach to parenting is as fraught as revolution and there's more crying involved.


How a Decorated Marine Disciplines His Kids

Jason Schauble is a former Marine who fought in Fallujah. Now a father of four sons, he explains how he uses military techniques to help them grow into young men.


What A Child Learns When You Make Empty Threats

When a parent makes grand threats they know they’ll never follow up on, a kid stops being socialized and starts getting sneaky.


Is the Effort to Curb Strict Discipline Going Too Far, Too Fast?

One Washington State school district shows just how difficult it can be to quickly reduce suspensions without alienating teachers.


5 Common Parenting Discipline Mistakes

When calm, consistency, and values are abandoned, it’s highly unlikely discipline will help a kid behave.


Child Rearing Discipline Practices Across Cultures

Every parent wants their child to be successful, but how to ensure a kid develops good behavior is based on cultural context.


I Used This Business Tactic to Discipline My Kids After Time-Outs No Longer Worked

By implementing a family charter, my wife and I not only helped reshaped our approach to discipline, but we now also hold ourselves accountable for the same things we ask of our kids.


Suspensions Are Racist

Harsh, exclusionary discipline in public schools disproportionately affects students of color. This is a combination of biases and policy.


How Roald Dahl’s Monsters Took Over the World

Roald Dahl didn't just give us Wonka and Matilda. He gave us a world of cruel discipline too.


Dad Discipline and Mom Discipline Are Different

Researchers used to think dad discipline didn't matter. Then their subjects grew up.