The Kindness Of Discipline

English: Marshmallows
Not to be confused with my recent post “The Discipline of Kindness”, this post is about the kindness we show when we provide discipline to our kids, and to be self-disciplined as well.  I was reminded of both as I recently witnessed a situation where they were clearly lacking.

Condoning poor behavior isn’t doing anyone favors – for the kids who don’t know how to conduct themselves in the world at large, or others who are subjected to their poor behaviors as adults.  It’s ironic that I had just researched the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, after hearing about it from someone else.  A study was conducted with 4-6 year olds, and then followed through their progression to young adulthood.  In short, it was found that kids who could delay gratification (in other words, had self-control) for the most part were more successful later in life when it came to achieving goals, in school and their lives in general.

I relate the two subjects because I believe there is a large portion of our society that doesn’t know the value of “No”.  It doesn’t seem to be taught very much anymore.  It certainly isn’t popular when we use it, in most situations.  There was a time not long ago when one was deemed kind who set limits.  I think we need to begin practicing it again.  Not out of mean-ness, but out of kindness – for ourselves and generations to come.

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Self-respect is the root of discipline:  The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.  ~Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Insecurity of Freedom: Essays on Human Existence, 1967

Watch The Marshmallow Experiment



  1. how very true. my neighbor rarely used the word no to both their son &I daughter as they were growing up. not that I didn’t say no to them. I said it often to them. the father told me they didn’t want to break their kids spirit by saying no to them..hello? I found their kids felt they had the right to walk into my house or play in my yard when I wasn’t even home. they wanted approval to use my swimming pool, including the youngest who was 3, when I wasn’t home. I had to put up warning signs & locks on my gates. their children would help themselves to snacks in my cupboards when my own children would come and ask if they could have what the neighbors kids were eating. when I asked them where they got what they were eating & they pointed behind them, I asked them to ask me next time they want something like my children do.
    they did agree to it.

    • Thanks for sharing, Lee. Sometimes the best thing we can do is set boundaries. It can be awkward for those who aren’t accustomed to them but better for everyone in the long run!

  2. I love this, what a great share! Such a simple idea which is able to reveal so much.
    We are constantly contending with the yes culture within our project as many young people have never had consistent boundaries from positive adult role models.
    At our project many young people love it when they find boundaries as it is reassuring and comforting to know where the defined areas of right and wrong are as it saves the constant disorder and chaos of ever changing boundaries that they may be used to.
    The hard work and effort to keep consistent boundaries always pays off tenfold, it’s just getting past that first battle and breaking the cycle that is the hardest part! haha!

    • Glad you find it helpful! I love what you’re doing with the youth in your city too. It’s encouraging to see people taking time to show them the way forward! ~Debbie

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