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Discipline without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up

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A child psychologist equips parents with tools to manage behavioral issues more effectively while supporting their child’s healthy, natural development.

When your child is threatening a meltdown in the grocery aisle, is it really possible to keep your cool, correct the behavior, and reinforce healthy development, all at the same time? In this easy-to-read, science-based book, parents, caregivers, and big people of all kinds will discover how discipline affects children’s development, why intervention should reinforce connection not separation, and why the disciplinary strategies that may have been used on us as children are not the ones that children really need.

240 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2016

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Vanessa Lapointe

5 books6 followers

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5 stars
118 (34%)
4 stars
111 (32%)
3 stars
78 (23%)
2 stars
28 (8%)
1 star
4 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews
Profile Image for Wren.
36 reviews
May 18, 2016
This book is not well written. In places, it is exceptionally irritating and even embarrassing to read. For example, there is a very long section (most of chapter four) where the author seems to think that she is talking about something other than her slightly creepy schoolgirl crush on the guy who runs her gym, but she isn't. It's so awkward.

Quite a lot of the book is taken up with convoluted analogies that do not succeed in clarifying or explaining anything. It reads as if the author was trying to stretch out the material, but then she glosses over things that should really have been explained in greater detail.

I'm taking off one star for terrible writing, but the ideas get five. This book is about raising up kids who are able to make good choices because they feel safe and loved, rather than scaring them straight or spoiling them rotten. I hope I will be able to put this in to practice as Monster grows up.
Profile Image for Klancy.
18 reviews
August 23, 2018
4.5 stars- I really enjoyed this, especially the chapter on "Hulking It Up." My favorite quote from the book, "The results may not be visible immediately, and this could not be more true than for the exceptional child, but the results will be visible eventually. The focus must always be on the greater purpose of growing up the child in the best possible way rather than on finding him behaving well right now. The goal is optimal development, not good behavior, for with optimal development, good behavior will come. But good behavior will forever be elusive with stunted development."
Profile Image for Danielle.
320 reviews10 followers
January 19, 2016
My only bone to pick is personal. I would have loved an adapted kids section for us parenting kids with special needs. My youngest has autism and still has meltdowns in school and public. The rest of the book was eloquent and made me feel better as a mom.
Profile Image for Penny Waring.
126 reviews2 followers
April 27, 2018
The basic premise of the book is that if you parent by connecting with your kids rather than making them afraid of arbitrary consequences, that you will raise a secure child who will intrinsically do what is right. This part is positive, but I have a few problems with the book itself. Firstly, I thought some parts could have been a lot shorter. Secondly, I found some of the explanations to be a little condescending and shame-inducing, despite the author stating her intention to not induce guilt in readers. Thirdly, I had trouble with some of the examples the author gave for the strategies. Some of them seemed to contradict the theories put forward and others did not address some key concerns one would want to address with some of the more negative behaviours kids display, instead opting for sympathetic acknowledgement of feelings and at times finding ways to let the child off the hook without seeming like you have lost your swagger as the adult in charge. It was disappointing to read the book, because the author is by all accounts a well respected professional in the field and a great speaker. I think the overall idea behind the book is nice but the book itself was hard to read.
602 reviews4 followers
February 24, 2016
I may just not be in a good place for this book right now--I found the first part, what I got through anyway, so guilt-inducing that I had to just stop. I was looking for advice on more positive discipline tips (a la Dr. Markham) but this wasn't working for me.
Profile Image for Marlee.
60 reviews
June 22, 2016
3.5 stars. The ideas presented are solid, but the writing leaves something to be desired. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids (by Dr. Laura Markham) is much better read.
February 23, 2018
I had to put it away. I tried so hard to stick with it, but I couldn't. I found the book to be horribly written and awkward. I did not feel inspired, but to the contrary, I felt miserable.
Profile Image for Heike Lttrr.
176 reviews1 follower
March 30, 2019
So I picked up this book because my partner and I are thinking of having a kid(s), and I spent the last 9 years or so (most of my 20s) thinking that I wouldn't have them (for a few different reasons I won't get into here), so at some point in the past few months I realized, wow, I know nothing. So, now that having my own kid(s) is becoming more of a possibility, I recognized that I needed to do some homework to wrap my mind around the idea of what it means to help grow up a small person, whenever that may come to my life (though, with nieces and a nephew already, arguably, that time is already happening, even without my own kids!).

Part of my choice for picking up this book had to do with overcoming some of my fears about becoming a mother and "how do I parent effectively?" and, "Surely there's a better way to discipline a child than to give it a spanking and/or otherwise instil fear?"

I'm glad to say that "Discipline without Damage" really met my expectations for "There's got to be something better out there!" Arguing for connection and attachment, compassion and deep empathy for connecting with children, while also providing boundaries and a safe space for them to grow into independent little kiddies really resonated with me. The book also differentiates between conformity (behaviours "looking" a certain way because of a threat or reprisal or consequence) and meaningfully addressing your child's behaviour with responsive connection.

Parenting well also, felt, very, daunting to do right, but then, I don't yet have a child to put some of these things to practice yet, but it was a comfort to balance some of the descriptions, techniques, and methods of the book with a general sense of "you will do your best and that will be enough, whether you get it right or not." The book made it be very possible to envision being a "good enough" parent. So, very much a thank you for that! I will be coming back to this book for sure in the months and years to come.
Profile Image for Eric.
164 reviews5 followers
June 15, 2020
There are some good ideas in this book, but many of her theories fall flat. The author presents unsupported claims and straw man arguments throughout the book, so while the practical suggestions can seem worth giving a try, I don't see any actual evidence-based backing.

One main point the author presents is her concept of "hulking up" to convey authority to a child. Let's first take issue with this phrase itself. Doesn't the comic book character become the Hulk when he loses control of his anger? The author is not arguing to allow your anger to direct your parenting, or to lose control over yourself, so this seems like entirely the wrong analogy. Not to mention it is almost certainly a copyright infringement. How did her editors let her get away with this?

Apart from the problematic concept of the Hulk by itself, the author wants parents to "hulk it up" with "swagger," whatever that is supposed to mean. We are supposed to exude confidence as parents. We have all seen confident people and people who have this natural respectability and authority with children. If we were that type of person, we wouldn't be reading this book. But I don't think the author understands that *we can't just will ourselves to become more confident.* Confidence doesn't work that way.

The book isn't all bad. The emphasis on developing a trusting relationship with the child is, if not practical, at least encouraging. Early in the book she presents the idea that children don't know how to calm themselves down - those neural pathways haven't developed strongly yet. So having a parent guide them through that over and over helps those pathways develop until they are able to do it by themselves. I wish there had been more on this point.

Overall, I didn't come away with many practical parenting tips to transform me as a parent. Ah well, on to the next parenting book...
Profile Image for Leah.
664 reviews8 followers
August 14, 2017
I'm sorry to say that it took this book to help me realize that I didn't have to always be the guideline enforcer for my kids. This book is filled with suggestions and answers on, what I consider, best parenting practices full of love and understanding, putting the kid first before the judgmental eyes of society, and really being the person your kids (and, it turned out, also myself) need you to be. It's completely changed the way I interact with my family and even friends and strangers. So glad I came across this.
Profile Image for Laura.
12 reviews
March 24, 2018
The concepts in this book are good with the focus and basis of discipline coming from a place of connection first, however I was not a fan of the authors writing style and felt that there was an undertone of judgment in her writing.
Profile Image for Barrette Plett.
Author 4 books
April 28, 2019
This book is accessible, science-based, and offers clear, practical advice on how to better support challenging kids and the developmental reasons why traditional approaches are ineffective and damaging.
Profile Image for Kate.
44 reviews1 follower
September 21, 2021
This is a fairly decent book with some good ideas. None of it is groundbreaking and there is a distinct lack of research or evidence to back up the author's claims. This means that it reads like an opinion piece but it's a professional opinion so worth spending some time on.

I found that a lot of the content I already was aware of but where this book added value for me was in comparing the mother I thought I would be (a la this book) against the mother I often become... This book brought me back down to ground level and helped to remind me of the priority that my children should be taking and why they need me. It's a good read to help you reset or readjust your priorities of the work/life/play balance and to remind yourself of how big emotions can be for children.

The issues I have are with the writing style, which many others have commented on. I found this book way too long and repetitive. Considering there is minimal scientific research to back up the author's ideas, these chapters and the explanations drag. Also, the language was difficult for me. I just cannot cope with being referred to as one of the "big people" who are "growing up" "little people". It contributed to an overall patronising tone to the book which I could ignore in some areas but was obvious in others. "Adults raising children" would be my preferred description in a book aimed at an adult audience and providing advice on childrearing techniques.
527 reviews3 followers
October 24, 2018
A really excellent method to get your children to behave without ruining them. A lot of what she writes in the book is exactly the way I feel about discipline that you cannot separate the child from the most important person in his/her life, you, and expect them to behave. They want to please you and it is our job to understand what is going on in their brains so we can help them be their best selves. We do this by seeing what they do, then understanding why, then reacting in a way that will help them get over the hurt or anger. I love this method and though I didn't always discipline this way I can see the efficacy of it. I wish I knew all this in my child-rearing years. This is a very centered way to help children grow up into the wonderful adults we want them to be
July 19, 2021
I’ve read other books that talk about being in the moment with our children. Have awareness of the feelings and past trauma that our children’s behaviour can bring up to the surface for us as a parent. But no practical way to actually help be that together mindful parent.

Before this book I thought I was in tuned to my child thinking but I have a lot to learn or unlearn as the case maybe. While there are challenging concepts in this book I found it extremely helpful and if you are like me. Trying to see your own flaws to be better than what you had growing up. I recommend you read this book. It takes a lot of patients to raise kids and good luck to anyone who feels the internal struggles to do better.
Profile Image for Andrea Luhman.
Author 2 books255 followers
November 13, 2022
Some nice principles if you have small children. Not helpful for tweens/or teens. Not a lot of situational guidance or where to start if you need to establish a relationship. She talks the negatives of helicopter parents but doesn’t out right discuss the disregulation of parents co-sleeping with toddlers +. Don’t expect data to back up anything she addresses. The author sounds extremely defensive of her advice when in the final chapter she tells converts to her methods to expect the loss of close friends and family members, which seems really strange for a “relationship” based method.
Profile Image for Holly Anderson.
192 reviews
August 3, 2020
The ideas within this book are good.
I did however find that the author doesn’t seem to empathise with parents as much as she could; she can come across as though she’s just telling all parents to work harder despite the pressures of society/life nowadays. It is our job as parents to raise good, happy, healthy kids - we know this - and we are trying hard - why do you think we are reading/listening to this book?!
6 reviews
February 25, 2021
Really appreciate the sentiment and science in this book. I've recommended it many times just based on the knowledge I received in early chapters regarding connection-based parenting and discipline. At times it's hard to read; run on sentences and content stretched. Really dislike the "hulk it up" metaphor referring to Big People exuding confidence. The writing could be better but the content is crucial to growing up healthy little people.
Profile Image for Kristen.
243 reviews3 followers
May 15, 2022
I liked the writing style and energy of the book. I started skimming over the metaphors three-quarters of the way through the book because there were a lot of them and they weren’t all needed to get the message. What I would have liked were more examples for how to address situations where my child isn’t listening, like when I ask him to go to bed and he gets out of bed 10 times and gets upset that I’m asking a tired child to sleep.
Profile Image for Nina.
8 reviews
January 23, 2023
This was an easy read and incredibly helpful. I was looking for something that made LESS work for me but it had me doing MORE work for the first week. Ha! Now me and my 4 year old son have an incredible relationship and I always know how to help him through what he’s going through, without losing my cool. This book brought me to a whole new level of patience, understanding and compassion that we all needed.
Profile Image for Kate Adderley.
25 reviews
April 25, 2023
I found this book helpful to remind me that my kids are still so little and big feelings are tough. It did leave me with feeling of ‘shame’ so I wish the author would have said upfront that these strategies can’t be implemented all the time. Having done in person parenting classes this is something they stress so you don’t feel like failure. I always think if I learn one thing to help me parent then it’s a win.
Profile Image for Dorka.
69 reviews3 followers
March 18, 2021
Pár nagyon egyszerű elvre építi a hölgy az egész könyvet és rendkívül sokat rizsázik róluk. Jobban szerettem
volna egy gyakorlatias, csupa tipp - csupa tanács könyvet olvasni, amit gyorsan fel tudok ütni az adott problémánál és egyből találok valami megoldási javaslatot. Ehelyett egy nagyon hosszú és unalmas szájbarágás, minimális érdemi információval.
16 reviews
January 9, 2022
FANTASTIC! This book not only offers solid advice on parenting through connection, but provides relatable examples as teaching models to help the message get across our "big people" brains. It also helps parents who did not have a good childhood themselves, and desperately want to end generational trauma but don't know how. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!
Profile Image for Kimi.
120 reviews9 followers
June 19, 2019
This book explains the science behind why children behave the way they do at each stage of development. I need to buy this book as many times as I have read it. I don’t think I added it last year to my books read.
Profile Image for Amy Crawford.
4 reviews1 follower
May 23, 2020
I picked up this book at a lecture with Dr. Vanessa Lapointe. I thoroughly enjoyed her talk and I am completely on board with her attachment parenting methods. While I love the ideas, I found the writing to be lacklustre and I had a hard time getting through this book.
Profile Image for Charlene Groome.
Author 7 books21 followers
June 23, 2021
This book makes sense. It gives you parenting tactics by offering your children positive, meaningful ways to be the best you can be at the hardest job. What I love is, Vanessa reminds us as parents that connection with our children is by far the best you can give. I would recommend this book!
Profile Image for J.
374 reviews43 followers
March 12, 2023
This is an amazing resource for people from all walks of life. LaPointe covers so many issues that re-reading is “Discipline Without Damage “ is a resource I’ll be mining every day with my students from here forward.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews

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