Pages Navigation Menu

The Truth Beneath Punishments: Parenting Yourself First by Jolette Jai

A few years ago, I was visiting a preschool. The children had just come off the playground and were getting ready to form a circle in their main playroom.  They were going to share about their different experiences playing outside.

Voices rising, bodies squirming with excitement, the room was abuzz as they shuffled around to form a big circle with their chairs.  Even though they were told to calm down and be quiet, a young girl with big brown eyes almost toppled the edge of her chair, bursting to share her story. Excitement oozed out of every pore of her small body; excitement that just couldn’t be contained at that moment by her teacher’s instruction.

And, as luck or fate (or the forces that move within children) would have it, the minute the young girl opened her mouth, she happened to talk a little bit over another young boy, who had started talking too.

The teacher decided to exert her control over the young girl at that moment and give her a punishment.

“You are talking out of turn,” the teacher blurted out. “Now you don’t have the privilege, you can’t share right now because you’re talking out of turn.”

Now, the teacher was trying to teach this four-year-old girl a lesson that ‘we don’t talk out of turn here.’ The teacher reminded the young girl of her misstep in front of the whole class, ‘and you talked over somebody. Not only can you not share right now, but during this whole circle, I’m sorry, you just can’t share.’

The girl’s face dropped. Her lips quivered. Tears formed puddles in her eyes.  Sadness consumed the little four-year-old.

Those five minutes were painful to be in the room.  I watched that four-year-old go through what seemed to be every sad and distressed emotion under the sun while the teacher and her classmates ignored her. I’ll never forget that day.

All of a sudden, the punishment that the teacher gave that child seemed to pale in comparison to the neglect of the young girl’s big feelings.

Now, what do you think that child was feeling in that moment? Possibly some level of stress for not being heard?

And what do you think that child learned at that moment?  Do you think she learned that you’re not supposed to talk over somebody?

Nope. That’s the lesson the teacher was hoping she learned.  But, what she learned instead was probably something like ‘my feelings don’t matter,’ or quite possibly, ’don’t matter.’


Because when we don’t receive empathy, we don’t feel connected.  And when we don’t feel connected, our minds start to make up all sorts of stories about ourselves that just aren’t true.

Two things tend to happen.

  1. Our mind will bend towards the negative about our self, coming up with some self-judgment.
  2. We will quickly internalize this self-judgment and believe it to be true.

How do I know that we do this?

Because after working with hundreds of parents and training Parenting Coaches all over the world, I can tell you that there is one thing that is blocking YOU from being able to really have that deep connection with your child that you so long to have.  It’s called a limiting belief pattern.

One day, my son was playing at his daycare and pulled another young child to the ground, causing the other child to cry. I felt appalled.

My blood pressure rose, my heart pumped faster, and I blurted out,  “Just STOP IT!”

At that moment, I began to notice something that would forever change the way I approach parenting.

What I noticed was that I needed myself to calm down first.  I needed to learn to balance my own emotions.  I needed to understand why I was feeling so triggered by my son’s behavior.

What am I really feeling here? 

I was feeling ashamed that I wasn’t doing it right.

My blood pressure rising, my heart pumping faster—all of it was because of one limiting belief that was circulating around in my mind, This should not be happening with my child.

That was when everything shifted for me.  I realized that it was my responsibility to become self-aware, to take responsibility for my own reactive feelings and, above all, to shift any unsupportive unconscious limiting beliefs that were circulating around in my own mind.

We cannot achieve any level of deep connection with our children until we let go of any limiting beliefs that have taken root in our unconscious mind.

When you take responsibility for your internal world first, you then begin to master your unconscious mind and attract the love, connection, and abundance that you so desire into your life and your parenting.

Time to look inward.

We all have limiting beliefs inherited from generations past.  A thought creates a belief.  That belief creates an action.  And those actions, repeated over time, create a pattern.

Some patterns may be serving your parenting while others may not be serving you in the least.  Those patterns that are not serving you may actually be creating more disconnection between you and your child.

When strong feelings surface throughout your parenting; when you’re feeling very frustrated, sad, irritated, and angry,  these are great clues as to where your body and mind may be holding on to some limiting belief that was formed in your past that is no longer serving you in the present.

So, what is a limiting belief?

A limiting belief is some belief that your unconscious mind keeps telling you over and over about yourself or your life that isn’t true.  This limiting belief may sound like, “I’m not worthy.” “Nobody listens to me.” “I’m not good enough.” “I need to prove myself,” etc.

Since limiting beliefs reside mostly in our unconscious minds, which account for over 90% of our parenting behaviors, we may not be aware of them during our conscious, waking state.

Unconscious limiting beliefs are most commonly formed during childhood when we experienced an uncomfortable feeling.  Our unconscious mind then repeats this limiting belief over time, which we then respond to by behaving in certain ways. Over time, neural pathways form in our brain, which in turn drive us to continue the behavior, and thus, a habit or pattern is formed.

Maybe you really want to lose weight, but you find yourself eating chocolate every night when you get stressed. The chocolate-eating behavior isn’t really serving your greater desire to lose weight, yet you keep doing it because there is some unconscious belief pattern that keeps on driving your chocolate-eating behavior. Over time, your body becomes conditioned to reach for chocolate whenever you are stressed!

Your child has just done something, and you can feel yourself reacting with a strong emotion.  Maybe it’s fear, maybe anger, maybe disgust. There may be a punishment.  There may be yelling.    Now there is disconnection and distance between you and your child.

The truth is that right now, at this moment, you have the biggest opportunity to be able to stop your emotional reactivity train and ask yourself, “Am I triggered?”

Then, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What am I believing about my child in this situation?
  2. What am I believing about myself in this situation?
  3. Does this belief fully support me and my child right now?

I’ve often heard parents articulate their limiting beliefs:  “My child can’t do this.”  “I’m not a great parent.” “Why can’t I do this?”  “Why is this happening?”  And the most painful one for parents that I’ve come across: “This should not be happening.”

So, just notice what your belief is in that moment, and ask yourself if your belief fully supports you and your child right now?

If you can do this, and then ask yourself those three questions, something will begin to happen within your brain.  This process of questioning will pause your reaction, even your strongest emotional reaction, and in becoming aware of your internal world, you will shift your limiting beliefs.

The healthier your internal world, the healthier your connection with your child.

Our children are craving our connection, not our punishments.

Without shame, without any limiting beliefs, our children can become the true potential that lies inside of them.



JOLETTE JAI is the founder of The Jai Institute for Parenting, where, since 2011, she and her team have trained conscious Parenting Coaches around the world, from all over the U.S. to Canada, Brazil to South Africa, and the UK to Dubai, to help parents raise caring, capable & confident kids with her 10-step Jai Process. This process is the first of it’s kind, helping parents experience authentic, deep connection with their children while setting limits in a way that enhances the long-term relationship between parent and child. Jolette is a passionate speaker, entrepreneur, and paradigm-shifter. She lives with her husband and wonderfully spirited son in Southern California.

For more information about the Jai Institute’s Parenting Training Program visit 

To download a FREE copy of Jolette Jai’s 100% Parent E-Book  CLICK HERE.