Remember that one time when you swore you’d never grow up to be one of those parents who used “Because I said so” as a defense for discipline?

Remember that time not too long ago when you said those exact words to your kids thirty-seven times in one day?

Yeah. Me, too.

Discipline for me is draining. When I tell you not to use my face lotion to make slime in your play kitchen, I don’t want to explain why Mama needs to diminish her fine lines and wrinkles.


So about a year ago, I realized that I was using the same lines over and over again when disciplining. Not only that, I would often respond with poor explanations, and at times—wait for it—sarcasm.

(I welcome all ridicule because sarcasm is NOT a form of acceptable discipline.)

I was saying things like…
Because I said so.
I’m the mama and that makes me the boss.
Don’t argue with me—just do what I say.
Did you hear me?
Slow obedience is disobedience.

Now, there’s nothing particularly awful about some of these—I still throw that last one in for good measure. But I began to see a pattern that I didn’t like.

My discipline tactics only served to get me what I wanted. They were lazy. They were judgmental. And they weren’t working.

So I decided to come up with five mantras to teach my girls that have changed the way I respond when disciplining:  

  1. Me: Are you a pioneer or a princess?
    Girls: A pioneer. Pioneers figure it out to make the world a better place.
  2. Me: Why are people important?
    Girls: Because they’re people.
    Me: How do we show people they’re important?
    Girls: By being kind and loving.
  3. Me: When do Mama and Daddy love you?
    Girls: All the time.
    Me: When you’re obedient?
    Girls: Yes.
    Me: When you’re disobedient?
    Girls: Yes. All the time.
  4. Me: Who are the happiest people?
    Girls: People who choose to be happy.
  5. Me: Who is God?
    Girls: A big, loving Father.

We’ll be going down the road, and I’ll start asking these questions.
Before bed about every other night, I ask these questions.
And ESPECIALLY when I discipline, I ask whichever questions are appropriate for the situation.

They’re sort of like our family’s own personal chants/cheers.

Here’s what’s happened:

Instead of immediately whining when they get in trouble, the girls have to respond with words they understand AND words that redirect behavior. The entire tone of our discipline has changed, and we’ve all benefited from it.

And besides, who doesn’t love a good cheer? (Sorry, my past as a cheerleader is showing.)

I’d love to hear any good words or phrases y’all have for disciplining. I would love to add to my repertoire!