15 Best Books About Discipline [on Self-Control + Parenting A Child!]

Whether you're looking to be a better parent, create a greater sense of self control, or enjoy massive success by following the habits of billionaires, there is no denying the value self-discipline plays for children and adults. Discover the best books about discipline broken down into two sections: self discipline and parenting books on discipline.

We included books for both groups because too often parents with the best intentions overlook, or are not provided with enough resources on the deep work, to actually implement some of the success principles in the discipline parenting books without mastering discipline within themselves first with new habits.

Table Of Contents
  1. Best Books About Discipline
  2. Best Parenting Books About Discipline
  3. Best Books About Self Discipline
  4. FAQs About Discipline
  5. Final thoughts on books about discipline

Best Parenting Books About Discipline

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Child Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

by Daniel Siegel M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson PhD

Written by the authors of the New York Times best selling parenting book, The Whole Brain Child, comes No-Drama Discipline. Full of cutting-edge insights, it offers a gentler approach to discipline you can feel good about. In fact, we consider it one of the best books on disciplining a child. We suggest it as the first book you tackle on this list as a parent with limited free time.

It teaches readers how to help children gain self-discipline and self-regulation through the lens of neurobiology in childhood development. While it's backed by science, it gives practical advice on how to help you and your child work through meltdowns, tough behaviors, and ditch the concept of harsh punishments to raise empathetic humans.

Readers will walk away knowing how to effectively discipline their kids in a healthy and constructive manner. Unlike traditional discipline, the aim here is to create a stronger connection with your child. It suggests doing away with punishment and tough love, to focus on empathy and building a stronger bond and bring about positive, lasting change.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting

by Dr. Laura Markham

Dr. Laura Markham, the creator of Aha Parenting, brings an easy to digest step-by-step book on discipline backed by psychological research on brain development and her extensive clinical experience with parents.

This book speaks directly to the parents who are tired of searching for the “right” consequence, tantrums, and power struggles.

Like many positive parenting books, it focuses on parents own self discipline, which can in turn, bring up a reader's own guilt.

We do love this book for caregivers looking to stop bribing, punshing, threatening, nagging and pleading with children. However there are a few sections on helping children “unpack” their emotional baggage that feel a little intense for caregivers starting this type of parenting style. I suggest going through our toddler + preschooler emotion series for more support on this subject.

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

by Janet Lansbury

Author Janet Lansbury is a well known RIE parenting teacher (Resources for Infant Educarers often associated with the “respectful parenting” movement). Her book “No Bad Kids” is a compilation of her most popular work surrounding toddler discipline.

Reader's will learn how to navigate common toddler struggles like gaining cooperation, testing limits, tantrums, hitting, boundaries, punishment and more.

Parents will confidently gain perspective into their child's world to better understand what they are going through. With that said, the respectful parenting approach often focuses on the parents own self discipline in order to guide the toddler through turbulence, which is why this list is comprised of discipline books for adults too; because in order to master discipline in our children, we must do it in ourselves. After all, kids learn from what we do, not what we say.

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

by Vanessa Lapointe

Discipline Without Damage is based on Attachment Theory and can help any adult who is dealing with children, whether it be their own or others, learn how to discipline their child while maintaining a strong connection.

Lapointe, a child psychologist, takes a science based approach to educate and guide people on how to defuse and regulate children.

The premise focusings on connection, not separation or causing harm. Reader's will learn how to be a better parent in handling kids who are in a state of throwing a fit, having a meltdown, or acting defiant without shutting them down and like they are “bad” kids.

The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

by William Stixrud PhD and Ned Johnson

Many of us think the best way to help our kids build a successful life with a great job is by taking a very hands-on approach as parents. We enroll them in tons of activities and extracurriculars, and become “helicopter” parents micromanaging every aspect of their lives, but what clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Bill Stixrud, and motivational coach/tutor, Ned Johnson, have discovered: high performing kids are becoming stressed and lack motivation. They hit a certain point in early adult life and begin to unravel and social media only adds to this pressure.

Reader's will learn how a micro-management approach may give teens a slight edge, but at a much greater cost in the long run causing more harm as stress and anxiety create slow-to-non starters in life.

This book is perfect for parents trying to balance traditional parenting approaches of pushing your kids to work hard and more conscious parenting approaches we see today.

Reader's will receive guidance on how to help children regain a sense self-control, which will in turn help them gain mental toughness and thrive.

While this book is backed by science, it's heavily weighted to the authors professional and personal experiences. This book is definitely better for elementary school kids and up. While the principles certainly do apply to toddlers and young children, the idea here really is around achievement/ hard work; not “right and wrong” impulses like hitting or biting that toddlers are known to struggle with.

For the Love of Discipline: When the Gospel Meets Tantrums and Time-Outs

by Sara Wallace

For the Love of Discipline is one of the best biblical discipline books examining traditional discipline methods from a gospel perspective to encourage children to grow in the Lord.

The book opens with a discussion on what discipline is and what we are working towards in implementing it. Much of this book is backed by the Bible and the second half focuses on practical ways to begin implementing in your life.

While this book is written towards moms, it's for both parents who understand there is no magical wand to create an obedient child. Instead she opens the book with a disclaimer not guaranteeing specifical behavioral outcomes: “If you’re looking for a formula that will turn disobedient kids into perfect little angels, you won’t find it in this book. Actually, you won’t find that anywhere. God doesn’t give us a formula. He gives us principles. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom in order to use those principles to point our kids to Christ.”

Raising an Explosive Child: A New Approach to Disciplining and Positive Parenting Hyperactive and Distracted Children, Learn Emotional Control Strategies to Help Your Child Self-Regulate

by Helen Parent

Finding discipline books for children with special needs is challenging, but Raising an Explosive Child is a helpful book for kids with Autism or ADHD.

Readers will learn seven positive parenting strategies to implement in in their daily life. The book opens with a discussion on the differences between discipline vs. consequences vs. punishment which provide a helpful framework for how to respond to your child. 

Why we really love this book, is that it provides a practical look at red flags, games for connection, tips around eating to reduce outbursts and the need for discipline, and tips around school. Truthfully it's a helpful read for parents of toddlers with soft signs of disorders despite being written for school aged children.

Best Books About Self Discipline

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

by James Clear

James Clear is one of the most recognized people in transitioning people of bad habits and into good habits. Unlike the many books that look at discipline as a mindset shift, Clear looks at it from a broken system perspective. By improving your systems you can set yourself up for success in transforming your life and what you can accomplish.

This is one of my husband's favorite books and a popular book among many aspiring and successful entrepreneurs because it is entertaining, easy-to-read, and focuses on a strategic program.

Atomic Habits is a really good book drawing on personal experience as well as those from habits of highly effective people to present new ways of creating systems of daily small steps that will have a compound effect on sticking with new, positive habits.

We think this perspective can be especially helpful for parents struggling to implement new ways of disciplining their children and find the discipline books for parents too shaming.

Discipline Is Destiny: The Power of Self-Control

by Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday is best known for his social media account @dailystoic and his New York Times bestselling book, Courage is Calling. Discipline Is Destiny is the second book in his Stoic Virtue series.

The book is divided into three parts: The exterior (body), The Inner Domain (temperament), and The magisterial (soul).

Each section is infused with stories of historical figures that exemplify and and showcase cautionary tales on the importance of mastering self-control.

It's an easy read with engaging examples. I highly recommend this to everyone, including parents as I recall early into parenthood my husband decided to practice stoicism to become a better father and I can attest to the principles shaping us as parents and people. Readers will walk away with a better understanding on the power of self-control without the shaming found in many parenting books.

The Mountain Is You: Transforming Self-Sabotage Into Self-Mastery

by Brianna Wiest

How many times have you tried turning bad habits into good habits and failed? The Mountain is You will have you look at all aspects of your life to see where you might be self sabotaging. What are the behaviors and thought patterns that are standing in your way?

In this book, Wiest explores why we resist change, how to build emotional intelligence, and shed past traumas and negative experiences to restore yourself to full potential and accomplish what you want in this life.

This book is definitely an entry book to self discipline, which is probably it's gone viral in the BookTok world. While it includes loads of practical tips for excavating your self sabotaging habits, this easy read may feel repetitive for those who avidly read self help books. Overall we think it does really good job of balancing gentle and firm approaches to experience positive change.

Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind

by Joe Dispenza

Dr. Joe Dispenza is a New York Times best selling author, researcher of epigenetics, quantum physics and neuroscience. His books all explore the extraordinary potential of the mind.

In Evolve Your Brain, reader’s get an in depth, easy to understand, explanation of how the brain works and its various structures. Reader’s will learn how thoughts create chemical reactions in the brain that impact our reality. This is a great introduction to neuroplasticity and a lesson in gaining self awareness to break patterns and reprogram the mind for new experiences. 

In Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself, is the sequel to Evolve Your Brain. The first part combines psychology and CBT practices and the second part moves into more esoteric beliefs around the quantum field that are reminiscent of The Secret. Since the second half of this book is really for a small audience, we wanted to give it an honorable mention as it does come with practical meditations, but we don’t necessarily think it’s the winner.

The 5AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life

by Robin Sharma

Waking up early every day is one of the biggest challenges for many people who love their sleep. But in a world where time is our most valuable asset unlocking more free time in the day, especially in the morning, to perform a few intentional exercises for your mind, body, and spirit can set you up for success.

Robin Sharma has helped developed these same habits of highly successful people around the world. He mixes some fiction with non-fiction to help get the message across in entertaining way on how we can rewire our brains achieve our greatest potential.

As the name states, this book is definitely based on some simple and well known concepts around self discipline. In an effort to drive home these concepts, half of it is actionally fictional stories following three characters. Ironically, many readers felt too much time was spent on this, so you've been warned. However, if you are looking to reclaim more of your life in our hectic modern society, especially as parents who never have enough hours in the day, while establishing positive habits, this book may be exactly what you need!

365 Days With Self-Discipline: Life-Altering Thoughts on Self-Control, Mental Resilience, and Success

by Martin Meadows

For those looking for quick, daily reminders on self discipline 365 Days With Self-Discipline is a great choice. There's no denying slef-control works and the little thigns add up over a long time period.

The book is based on popular quotes with a short passage going into them, making it a 1 to 2 minute read each day for a year.

There is so much useful information, quotes from current and historical successful people, valuable lessons, and practical advice to improve all areas of your mindset and life.

The notion is that discipline is not a sprint, nor is it a quick fix. It needs to be put into practice daily over long periods of time to create that power of habit. If you are looking for an inspirational book to help you gain self-discipline and accomplish things you've consistently put off or told yourself you can't do, this nearly 700 page book by Mark Meadows will help you.

No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline

by Brian Tracy

For those struggling to balance work and life, we are big fans of No Excuses! by Brian Tracy, author of the New York Times Bestseller Eat The Frog! which is all about how to stop procrastinating.

For over a year I interviewed successful CEOs with families on work-life balance for Forbes. I know all too well how challenging it can be to bridge personal goals, business goals, and overall happiness and this book is a step-by-step guide with end-of-chapter exercises to apply what you've learned.

Tracy has a very conversational style of writing, which makes this book easy to consume.

FAQs About Discipline

What is the best form of discipline for a child?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends positive discipline over physical and verbal punishment.

Corporal punishment and verbal abuse can lead to an increase in stress hormones. These can change the brain structure leading to negative behavioral, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional outcomes.

What are the 3 types of discipline for children?

The 3 main types of discipline for children are: behavior modification, gentle/respectful discipline, and boundary based discipline.

  • Behavior modification: Rooted in Applied Behavior Analysis, the focus is changing the undesirable behavior through positive and negative reinforcement. When most people think of “discipline” it’s this type. Examples of this would be putting siblings in time out if they are fighting, or giving them a cookie for playing nicely together. 
  • Gentle / respectful / positive discipline: These all focus on establishing connection and a sense of belonging in the child to mitigate misbehavior. The idea basically is, we discipline our kids by building their inner moral compass by showing them respect and treating them as we would others. This does not mean we let them do whatever they want, but rather we coach them through their feelings and teach them how the world works. For instance if they throw their dinner plate, we don't punish without dinner, but instead acknowledge their feelings and offer to help them clean it up until they learn to do it on their own.
  • Boundary based discipline: A montessori approach to discipline understanding children's innate need to test limits and find boundaries. The primary goal here is a sense of order. With this type of discipline the focus is the child learning individual, communal, and environmental boundaries. Here the adult offers limited choices teaching the child about natural consequences. For instance, instead of taking a stick out of the child's hand because you're scared they'll hurt someone, you say “sticks stay on the ground. You can either play with on the ground or I'll put it somewhere safe until you're ready to try again.” This is a hybrid of the previous two.

How do you discipline a child that won't listen?

Children who won't listen often are struggling with some form of dysregulation and disconnection. Generally speaking, the best way to discipline a child who won't listen is actually to practice self discipline in your urge to react and match their pain, and instead respond with connection. By modeling self regulation, the child ultimately will learn to discipline themselves.

This can certainly feel challenging when we are used to jumping into punishment or consequences like “you're grounded if you don't do X” and is why a self discipline practice is actually one of the most effective things we can do as parents in mastering our inner calm to create space for our kids behaviors and feelings we weren't allowed to safely express.

What is the best self-discipline book for building self control?

We think all of the self-discipline books on this list are great depending on your interests. At the end of the day self control comes down to embodying a growth mindset, looking at your long-term goals, and coming up with mini habits in your everyday life to make choices that align with that bigger version.

Choosing the best book to implement daily small steps will ultimately depend on how you are best motivated at this time and knowing that you may need to change in the future.

For instance, those looking to be a better parent may find No-Drama Discipline the most motivating book to start with. As you begin practicing you may notice it's not enough so you dig into The Mountain is You to understand your self sabotaging behavior and why it's so hard to respond in the way described by the authors.

For those more interested in business No Excuses! and Atomic Habits are two of our favorites that generalize to personal lives as well.

What is the best book on willpower?

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is one of the best books on willpower.

We didn't put it on this list simply because we think Atomic Habits does a great job covering the key points from The Power of Habit, but in a more broad scope for a larger audience in our opinion. Duhigg's book focuses more on business.

How do I fix lack of discipline?

Every person learns different, so how you fix a lack of discipline may vary from others.

As a questioner, understanding how neuroplasticity, thoughts, and the brain works from Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind was one of the most helpful things for me.

If you are less heady, you may prefer a daily practice like in 365 Days With Self-Discipline.

If you're unsure where you fall, diving deep into self- sabotage behaviors in The Mountain is You may be a great starting point.

Final thoughts on books about discipline

Whether you're looking to reach financial, career, parenting, or some other goal the reality is your mental health and mindset ultimately make up your smaller habits. Self discipline is required for better results on all fronts.

We personally love Discipline Is Destiny and Atomic Habits as a starting point for discipline of oneself and encourage everyone to read those two to start, including parents looking for help in disciplining their children. Discipling kids largely has to do with our own self control and healing.

For parents, we also love No-Drama Discipline for all ages and The Self-Driven Child for older kids (starting around 7 or 8 years old) and teens.

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