I knew early on with our kids, that I didn’t want to rely on punishments and rewards. But this created a problem in my parenting.

Knowing what you DON’T want to do is NOT the same as knowing what TO do.

I still had to learn–or relearn–how to remove the threats and bribes in my parenting.

What do you say to motivate kids (if you don’t use rewards)?

What do you say to help them get along and stop fighting (if you don’t use time-outs)?

When our kids were about 2 and 4 years old, I began my deep dive into parenting. They were out of babyhood and interacting with each other. Sometimes they played together beautifully, other times they fought like vicious, fuzzy bunnies in the back seat of the car (all teeth, nails, and primitive noises).

I’d read some parenting books (in the 2 minutes I had while they were in the bathtub, or running around naked in the backyard).

Reading got me inspired, but in the “heat of the moment” I usually forgot what I wanted to say to them.

Enter the 3×5 index card!

I wrote down key sentences from the books on an index card and I put it in my purse. The next time they got in a fight, I could look at my index card and remember what to say.

This worked!

Their next fight was when we were driving south on the highway in traffic (Of course! It’s Los Angeles!). They were sitting in the back of the station wagon strapped into their car seats (but still within arms reach of each other).

I leaned over–while staying in my lane–found the index card in my purse and read off a sentence or two, to my kids.

I don’t remember what the fight was about or what I said, but I do remember that the fight ended. I said what I wanted to say; I’d been kind and compassionate. And they calmed down.

So here’s my gift to you, I’ve compiled a list of all my best peaceful parenting “one-liners” from books that I’ve read, the 200+ interviews we’ve done, and my 2+ decades of working with kids.

And I have them for you. Here. Today.

Read the list (below). Download a copy, print it, and put it on your fridge or in the car.

You can use my technique and copy some of the sentences on a 3×5 index card and put it in your purse or man-bag.

Just don’t try to read your index card while you are driving your car.

Have better judgment than I did, please!

One last thing, you’ll notice that some of these “one-liners” are actually “two-liners”. That’s because some things needed a little more explanation.

The Best Peaceful Parenting “One-Liners”

Want to parent with more empathy but can’t think of what to say? Here are some no-fail sentences to get you started in any situation.


  • We all make mistakes.
  • Let’s do it together.
  • You don’t have to eat everything. Check-in with your body to see if you feel full.
  • There is nothing you can do that would make me love you any less.
  • I’m here for you when you’re ready.
  • You get to choose.
  • You get started and come to me if you need help.


  • All your feelings are ok.
  • It makes sense to me that you’d feel [sad/scared/mad]. That didn’t go the way you wanted it to.
  • Wow, you look so proud of yourself! I saw you [run really fast].
  • Do you want to talk about it? (No.) Ok, I’m here if you change your mind.
  • I’m guessing you feel [frustrated/sad/happy/scared/upset]. Is that how you feel?


  • Does this game still feel fun for everyone?
  • What can I do to help?
  • How can we make it work for everyone?
  • I’m not willing for you to [hurt/hit/yell] at other people. I’m going to put my body here so that everyone is safe.
  • This is tough. I’m going to pick you up and give you a big hug and we’ll go to a place where you can have all your feelings.
  • I’m feeling flooded. It’s not your fault. I’m going to take care of myself and I’ll be back to check on you in 2 minutes.
  • I would like to say “yes” to that solution. Here’s what I’m concerned about…


  • Do you have any ideas about how we can solve this issue next time?
  • What were your hitting hands trying to say?
  • If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do differently in that situation?
  • I wish I hadn’t yelled, that’s not the kind of parent I want to be. Next time when I’m feeling frustrated I will [take 5 deep breaths] before I talk.


  • Would you like a hug? (No.) Ok, I’m here if you change your mind.
  • I’ve got a hug for you if you want it.
  • It looks like you haven’t had enough hugs today. Want one?


  • Which toys are not shareable? Let’s put them away before your friend gets here.
  • Can they use that toy when you’re done with it?
  • There are two kids here and you both want one toy. How can we solve this?

Download a copy here.


If, after reading the blog today, you’re interested in stuff like this WITH me… here’s how you join the Village.

You and I can personally talk in there if you’re struggling to figure out your “new story”.

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