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Amazon Price: $27.00 $19.51 You save: $7.49 (28%). (as of December 15, 2018 9:22 pm – Details). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

In this groundbreaking book, parenting expert and acclaimed author of the bestselling book Simplicity Parenting Kim John Payne, M.Ed., flips the script on children’s challenging or defiant behavior and lays out an elegantly simple plan to support parents in establishing loving, age-sensitive boundaries that help children feel safe and settled. In short: What looks like misbehavior is actually your children’s signal that they’re feeling lost, that they are trying to find direction and looking to you to guide them back on course.

Payne gives parents heartwarming help and encouragement by combining astute observations with sensitive and often funny stories from his long career as a parent educator and a school and family counselor. In accessible language, he explains the relevance of current brain- and child-development studies to day-to-day parenting. Breaking the continuum of childhood into three stages, Payne says that parents need to play three different roles, each corresponding to one of those stages, to help steer children through their emotional growth and inevitable challenging times:

• The Governor, who is comfortably and firmly in charge—setting limits and making decisions for the early years up to around the age of eight
• The Gardener, who watches for emotional growth and makes decisions based on careful listening, assisting tweens in making plans that take the whole family’s needs into account
• The Guide, who is both a sounding board and moral compass for emerging adults, helping teens build a sense of their life’s direction as a way to influence healthy decision making

Practical and rooted in common sense, The Soul of Discipline gives parents permission to be warm and nurturing but also calm and firm (not overreactive). It gives clear, doable strategies to get things back on track for parents who sense that their children’s behavior has fallen into a troubling pattern. And best of all, it provides healthy direction to the entire family so parents can spend less time and energy on outmoded, punitive discipline and more on connecting with and enjoying their kids.

Advance praise for The Soul of Discipline

“The Soul of Discipline offers practical tools for helping parents implement discipline that’s respectful and effective, but the book is so much more. Kim John Payne offers a framework to guide parents in making decisions about why, when, and how to hold tighter reins as we build skills in our children, and why, when, and how to loosen the reins as we scaffold freedom.”—Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., co-author of No-Drama Discipline
“This book gets deep inside the challenge of getting along with children and teens and thinks deeply about what they need from us to become strong and self-managing. It elevates discipline to what it should be—a caring process of helping kids orient to the world and live in it happily and well.”—Steve Biddulph, author of The New Manhood

“Kim Payne provides a useful model for choosing our parenting stance—Governor, Gardener, or Guide—depending on the situation. Most powerfully, Payne begins with the radical view that children are not disobedient but rather disoriented. The upshot of this shift in perspective is that discipline is about helping children orient themselves effectively, not about controlling or chastising.”—Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., author of Playful Parenting

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 2, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345548671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345548672
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

Customer Reviews

Best parenting book I’ve read

 on May 12, 2016
By coastie08
I have read countless books on discipline and parenting, including Love and Logic; Adventures in Gentle Discipline; How to Talk so Kids Will Listen…; Siblings without Rivalry; Free-Range Parenting; Heaven on Earth; Punished by Rewards; It’s ok not to Share; and Payne’s own Simplicity Parenting. The Soul of Discipline surpasses all of these, and I only wish that it had been available 5 years ago when we began parenting! The developmental phases and “needs” presented make perfect sense. I have trialed just a few of the ideas that Payne shares and have already seen improvements in my relationship with my impetuous 5 year old. Some of the ideas are uncomfortable to read about, as I have been steeped in the parenting philosophy that says to be as inclusive as possible with your children. I read through the tween and teen sections, too, though, and am encouraged to see how that “ideal” of inclusiveness will become our reality as the children get older. I am so glad that I read this book, and highly recommend it to anyone who interacts with children. I only wish Payne had included more examples/scenarios, as I find those very helpful–but he did include enough to get us started.

I lean on this book when I feel confused or …

 on June 12, 2017
By C. Johnson
I lean on this book when I feel confused or that I am looking for an answer. Kim John Payne has helped guide our family through many phases and stages, always helping the parent to remember to get to the source of the child’s issue. No disobedient kids, just disoriented. Changed our parenting for sure.

Textbook parenting

 on February 9, 2018
By JSCluff
This wasn’t a book filled with new ideas for me, as I felt it largely drew on basic material in the field of study. At times I felt like I was reading a textbook for one of my college classes. If you haven’t read that type of material I believe it would be fairly informative. It did have some good ideas it shared, but wasn’t anything especially new. This is a good basic parenting book to read.

Liked the position the book takes

 on July 1, 2017
By Amazon Customer
Say it may be vague or without ground, but I see and identify with the middle ground taken by the author in parenting. I have read books that go the strict side and the loose side, and found that both had links missing in making sense of the parenting methods proposed in those books. This book bridged and explained the pros and cons these popular parenting methods possess and bring up one which draws in the good of both sides for reference.

For children of all ages

 on January 12, 2017
By Amazon Customer
This book is wonderful in many ways. I highly reccomend it to parents with children of any age. My sister and I both got a copy and are implementing some changes in our households at the same time. She has 2 daughters, 6 and 8. I have a 20 month old son and the simplicity parenting techniques apply for all.

VERY helpful advice for helping your relationship with your child …

 on July 27, 2016
By Stephen Barnard
VERY helpful advice for helping your relationship with your child, from the author of Simplicity Parenting. I could do without some of the constant anecdotes, but the practical advice really works.


 on July 8, 2017
By Bryan Richter
Excellent read! I have a 3 year old and have read through the Gardener phase of the book and have to say that the suggestions are working.

Love this book and the respectful way in which he …

 on February 27, 2016
By Phyland
Love this book and the respectful way in which he encourages parents to stay lovingly connected to their children, while maintaining good boundaries. He happens to be an inspiring speaker, too.

Five Stars

 on October 4, 2017
By Amazon Customer
Wish I had this from the beginning.

It is a wonderful tool for helping raise kids

 on July 11, 2016
By H. Pollock
I adore this book! It is a wonderful tool for helping raise kids.