Conscious discipline didn’t start as a parenting technique. It was conceived as a classroom management system that helped teachers use conflict as a means to teach children about appropriate behavior and important life skills. It was popularized by early childhood education expert Becky Bailey, who authored several books on the subject.
After its introduction into the classroom, conscious discipline spread into parenting literature. Today, parents who employ conscious parenting methods often begin when their babies are toddlers. The foundation of conscious discipline is to create a “connected family” in which each member has a voice and each member has their needs met. This approach is designed to encourage better communication and allow parents to help their children work through stressful situations without fear. The need for reward- and punishment-based discipline is eliminated.
According to conscious discipline, the creation of healthy connections with other people wires the brain for improved impulse control and a willingness to cooperate. In a household using conscious discipline, the parents set behavior goals and then help their children to achieve them. Disciplinary techniques such as yelling and behavior-related threats are de-emphasized.
There are several peer-reviewed and independent studies that support the use of conscious discipline in a classroom setting. Evidence of effectiveness in the home setting is limited, however. There is only anecdotal evidence collected from parents who took a five-week training program in conscious parenting and completed a questionnaire after adopting it in their homes.
According to this limited study, parents using conscious discipline experienced an increased ability to set limits and follow through on them. They also found it easier to provide positive guidance for their children. Overall communication and their ability to understand their child’s point of view also increased. Parents became more involved with their children at home and school and were also able to get support from other parents.
Reviewed by Dr. Kristie Rivers, September 2020
- Conscious discipline is a method of discipline that eliminates the need for reward and punishment-style discipline.
- It is intended to create stronger communication within families.
- Conscious discipline gives children a voice and empowers them with the ability and help to achieve behavioral goals.
- There is research supporting this method for classroom use, but research in a home setting is limited.