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Conscious Discipline

Date Submitted: 09/07/2021

Contact Information:

Sarah England

Grants Director


Sunbeam Family Services, Inc.

1100 NW 14th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73106

Rating Category: Well-Supported by Research

Focus Area: Social Emotional Learning

Focus Population: Children, Teachers, Owners, Caregivers, Guardians, Administrators, Parents

Goals and Outcomes:

Conscious Discipline is an evidence-based, trauma-responsive, adult-first approach to self-regulation. It integrates social and emotional learning, equitable school culture, theory and application, and research and brain-based discipline practices in a single methodology, providing a pathway to resiliency and creating systemic and sustainable change.

For more than 25 years as an SEL leader, our company’s vision has been to create “an interconnected world of conscious adults capable of responding instead of reacting to conflict, creating safe homes, safe schools and a safe planet.” Conscious Discipline affects this change by requiring adults to examine their social-emotional aptitudes and mental models so they can address or acquire missing, ineffective or weak skillsets. With this upgraded SEL toolbox, adults are then able to teach healthy SEL skills to the children in their care through both lessons and day-to-day interactions.

Conscious Discipline’s adult-first, child-second approach equips educators with the mindset and skillsets needed to internalize and dramatically upgrade their own social and emotional aptitudes. They then infuse SEL into all aspects of classroom management, instructional practices and school culture, and utilize everyday life and conflicts as their core SEL curriculum rather than relying on separate lessons. The social world of the school becomes the core curriculum. In most schools, the socialization process is unconscious— a “Do as I say, not as I do” approach. A common example of this is a school that verbally promotes inclusion while simultaneously relying on reward and punishment systems that inherently support an exclusionary, better than/less than culture. Another common example would be teaching a boxed lesson about respecting others while using a “green to red” card system that relies on fear and humiliation as a discipline strategy.

The goal of Conscious Discipline is to make the cultural socialization of the school conscious, healthy, and in alignment with the vision and mission of the school’s stakeholders. In short, Conscious Discipline empowers teachers to create a conscious “Do as I do” environment in which children can experience the physical, social and emotional safety and connection necessary for them to learn, explore and grow to reach their fullest potential.

Brief Summary of target population and issues/challenges:

Throughout its 25 years as an SEL leader, Conscious Discipline has been rooted in neuroscience, trauma-responsive interventions and an inclusive culture of learning. It utilizes a hierarchical brain state model to increase understanding; is built on the metaphor of a healthy family instead of a factory; and creates an equitable lens and systems that ensure the optimal development and achievement of all.

Conscious Discipline serves infant through elementary aged children. It is suited to any agency or individual that wants to create transformational change by integrating the following initiatives into one comprehensive program:

  1. Social and emotional learning (adults and children)

  2. Equitable school culture (adults and children)

  3. Brain-based discipline strategies embedded in neuroscience

  4. Trauma informed and trauma responsive care (adults and children)

The goal of Conscious Discipline is for adults and children to become disciplined enough to set and achieve goals, conscious enough to know when they’re off track, and willing enough to return to a path of highest potential for themselves and others. To achieve this goal, adults must learn to regulate our thoughts, feelings and behaviors in order to model and teach this process for children. Most of us spend more time thinking about others’ thoughts, feels and actions than our own. We expend more energy trying to control others than we do regulating ourselves. By working with adults first and children second, the above four initiatives merge into one sustainable whole as we learn the fundamental skills and growth mindsets needed to create and maintain healthy relationships.

One of the greatest challenges educators face is how to create healthy relationships with relationship-resistant or reluctant learners. Without a felt sense of safety and belonging, children will act out their inner pain on themselves or others. Disruptive and dangerous behaviors are common, while learning is impossible for them and impeded for others. The human brain is a social brain. Adults’ and children’s brain are always unconsciously asking, “Am I safe?” and/or “Am I loved (do I belong)?” Once we create a learning environment in which all members can answer “yes” to these questions, then and only then, can the brain consciously ask, “What can I learn?”

Visit to learn more or to bring Conscious Discipline to your school or agency.

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