Sheryl Crow On Disciplining – and Bribing – Her Kids

05/23/2011 at 02:00 PM ET
Naomi Kaltman

Sheryl Crow may be a rock star, but when it comes to parenting, she’s a strict mom.

The singer credits her own mother with helping her realize the importance of disciplining sons Wyatt Steven, 4 and Levi James, 1.

“My mom said it’s going to hurt you a lot more than it’s going to hurt them,” Crow, 49, explained during the Tom’s of Maine Simply White web chat.

“So when I would get upset about putting him in a time out or being stern with him as Wyatt was going through the terrible 2s and challenging 3s, she would say, ‘Those things are not going to be memorable for him. What’s memorable for him is gonna be the feeling of safety.'”

But that doesn’t mean Crow, who’s dating Doyle Bramhall II and recently released the cookbook If It Makes You Healthy, won’t bribe her kids to get them to eat right.

“I’m all about bribery when it comes to my little kids eating, particularly my 4-year-old,” the musician admitted. “If you’ll try this, Wyatt, you can have some of this.’ That’s how we do it.”

— Alla Byrne

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Showing 22 comments

Jurnee on

She sounds like a great mom. And how nice to have her own mom for advice!

Jessica on

Hannah, you are obviously not a mother. Children associate routine, rules, and regularity with safety, comfort, and security. I think that is what Sheryl’s mother meant when she said that Wyatt will remember that sense of safety over the disciplinary measures (which I’m sure do not include emotional abuse!) when he thinks back on his childhood.

Linny on

I’m not a big Sheryl Crow fan but I love reading about her and her boys. She sounds like a wonderful mom.

Hannah & Leanne:
Just because she’s strict doesn’t mean she’s not a loving mom. I was raised in a strict household and though I might have not appriciated it at the time when I look back on my childhood now I only have fond memories. I loved the rules, the routines and the security I had. My neices and nephews are gorwing up in the same enviroment. It’s stability.

I’m working as an au-pair currently and I’m strict with my kids. I let the, get away with very little. They might cry and scream because I discipline them and send them to do time-outs but when they have calmed down the (sometimes) appologizes (if they don’t say it I ask them for one) and then they can carry on doing something they like and they are happy. The parents appreciate it and rely on my heavily and the kids always says I’m their favourite au-pair (they’ve had six) so I mean I’m doing something right.

I think Sheryl’s sons are going to turn out wonderfully. She really seems like such a great mom and she takes advice and she’s bring up her boys with discipline and values.

Loumin80 on

I should imagine what I am about to say will go down like a lead balloon, but as 1 of 5 children myself and now the mother of 2 kids I can safely say that it is MUCH better is kids have consistant dicipline rather than parents who do not bother. I think Sheryl has the right attitude and for anyone who doesnt agree, I can tell you now, the proof will be in the pudding in 10/15 years time.

You, as parents, will either have set realistic boundaries and have children that have *some* kind of respect for you and the world around them, or, if you don’t, you will have teenagers who run rings around you and are more than likely get into trouble more.

This is from the experience of having many neices, nephews and godchildren and many conflicting parenting styles in our family/friends households. It bugs me SO much that parents don’t deem it their responsibility to dicipline their kids and wait till they start school before they bother/let someone else deal with it.

People who do this – They are YOUR children, teach them right from wrong as soon as possible. DEAL WITH THEM! THEY ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!

I would like to stress that I am not perfect and I do make mistakes too, but diciplining my children fairly and consistently so they know their boundaries has always been a top priority for my husband and I, and so far our children (4 years and 1 year) are by far the politest and kindest (and fun-ist!) kids of their age that we know, and everyone they come into contact with (even strangers on the bus or in the park) comments on how well behaved they are.

*phew* rant over….x

competitive_gymnast on

IMO, Just because she disciplines her kids does not mean she doesnt show them unconditional love, by disclipling the child and showing them what is acceptable or not acceptable behavior you essentially are showing the child that you love them enough to want better for and from them. My mom was strict but she always made sure we knew how much she loved us and that she set the bar high so that when we became adults we would continue to pursue high standards/morals/bars and challenge ourselves constantly. 🙂

My mom would make one dinner and you either ate what was on the table or you waited til breakfast. Personally, I don’t think I would bribe my kids (I might sneak veggies and fruits into a blender and make smoothies or apple sauce… 🙂 ) but if it works for her more power to her! 🙂

competitive_gymnast on

Sheryl should become a blogger! 🙂 Let’s make it happen 🙂

amw on

her strictness doesnt bother me. he food bribery does. but i remember she had another post about trying to get them to eat healthy. makes me chuckle that she apparently has a cookbook about healthy eating.

i wanted to mention the style of solid feeding called “baby led weaning.” if you look it up, you will see that it isnt just a breastfeeding thing. its about skipping the gross rice cereals for babies and letting them eat real, healthy, whole foods from the start. weve done it all along with our now 13 month old and she has a great diet. no neon mac and cheese for her. her desserts are fruit and her favorite foods are zucchini and couscous, mushroom cabbage pierogies, and chicken. she has been given a few things like cookies, fries, etc. but those are treats. she never expects them, and oddly enough sometimes she refuses them.

while food isnt a non-stressful issue in our house, i think we have a much easier time with it than some people, and im hoping we can avoid the parts of parenting that most moms like sheryl mention of cajooling, pressuring, and hiding “healthy” food in junk just to try to get something good in our kids. it doesnt have to be that way, and it also sets them up for a more healthy relationship with food when they get older.

crg on

amw- we skipped all the rice cereal and stuff, too. I made baby food for my first son and my second son skipped “baby” food altogether. He much preferred small pieces of solid food. We try to eat as best we can, but now that my kids are older and have been exposed to more (at parties, etc.), it is harder. They like their mac n cheese but I do it a homemade, healthy way which includes veggies and whole grains. My kids, and others I know, who were not picky eaters at all at your child’s age then went through periods where they wouldn’t eat vegetables or other healthy foods, so just know that nothing with kids is permanent! Hope your daughter keeps up with the veggies, etc.

Jan on

I agree with Hannah. Jessica you are out of line to say Hannah is “obviously not a mother”. Excuse me? You are psychic?? I am a mom and crying it out stinks and we DO hope this is not what Crow is espousing!

Jen DC on

Does the article (this snippet, anyway) mention “cry it out”? Jeez, stop putting words in the woman’s mouth. She’s clearly talking about disciplining the child old enough to need discipline – Wyatt. She sounds like a thoughtful, loving mommy – who doesn’t take crap from her kids! (Admittedly, there can’t be that much crap since they are 3 and 1, but it’ll pay off later.)

Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with “cry it out” if it’s used judiciously and appropriately. No one is advocating letting your child scream and cry for hours on end or while hurt or otherwise sick or in pain. Just because you didn’t do it doesn’t make you more right in your parenting.

martina on

Consistent discipline and rules are extremely important parts of parenting. Kids need to learn that “no” means “no” – and that they can’t have everything they want. Love & hugs & kisses are still there; these things aren’t at all mutually exclusive. But without discipline kids grow up to be spoiled selfish adults.

Mira on

You can set boundaries and teach kids that no means no without time outs. Rules, routine, and structure can all be enforced without being harsh and antagonistic with the kids.

Allegra on

Jan, letting them cry it out is NOT abuse, nor does it has negative consequences. If you can’t let your child cry it out then it’s an issue within yourself as opposed to your child. Of course a child is going to cry when they want something, but are you going to give your children candy for their dinner if they want that too? I doubt it.

RKF on

Mira — nicely put. Personally I find there is a big difference between discipline, and setting boundaries. I prefer the latter, as I don’t find heavy discipline, time-outs, etc… fair, efficient, and/or worthwhile. I was raised without heavy discipline (major boundaries, yes!), and had impeccable manners, was structured, had a set routine, etc… yet always felt loved, and never fearful of doing something “wrong.” Of course, everyone has to raise their children as they see fit…what’s right for one, is not right for another.

On the subject of “bribery with food”… can someone please explain this concept to me? They’re children, NOT adults, why do they have such control? They eat what you give them! If they have an aversion to the flavor of something, then clearly you try something else… but bribery?

hayley w on

I love it when one mum thinks they know it all and tell some one else they are doing it wrong

news flash none of us are perfect parents we all stumble along the way, so what she bribes them into eating healthy surely thats better than not eating healthy at all, and no matter what you do you will all ways have some busy body telling you your doing harm or the best one ‘ emotional abuse’ because your not pandering to every tantrum your child throws

heres a thought judgemental ladies you worry about bringing up your children and let us get on with bring up ours.

Its quite simple really.

RKF on


Unless you have ESP, or heavy clinical knowledge, how are you an expert on crying it out not being abuse? A baby/child can’t tell you if it’s harming them psychologically. How do you know it doesn’t cause negative consequences? Please don’t assert your personal opinion as fact.

Georgina on

I didnt really consider it bribery, but I do say that to my kids, if you eat your dinner you can have dessert. I dont know if thats exactly what Sheryl means but I think there are forms of “bribery.” Sometimes kids do need a little incentive just to try foods, they tend to eat with their eyes and dont like new stuff. Well mine dont anyway. Its currenlty strawberry season in England so dinners are going quite well a.t.m!

As for time outs being harsh? Why?

Jen DC on

@ RKF: Frankly there *are* no experts on CIO and later issues in children. There are dozens of contradictory studies.

I’m perfectly fine stating definitively that in MOST CASES, CIO does no long term emotional/psychological damage to babies/toddlers who have otherwise responsive parents based on personal experience and anectdotal evidence.

Molly on

The ones whining are not mothers probably. Not all of us believe everything people say on the internet.

Jen R on

The term “discipline” comes from the Latin word “disciplinare,” which means “to teach.” Many people, however, associate the word with punishment, which falls short of the full meaning of the word. Discipline, properly practiced, uses a multifaceted approach, including models, rewards, and punishments that teach and reinforce desired behavior. Through discipline, children are able to learn self-control, self-direction, competence, and a sense of caring. Therefore disciplining your children is loving them!

Kaye on

at Jen DC,

“Frankly there *are* no experts on CIO and later issues in children. There are dozens of contradictory studies.

I’m perfectly fine stating definitively that in MOST CASES, CIO does no long term emotional/psychological damage to babies/toddlers who have otherwise responsive parents based on personal experience and anectdotal evidence.”

I have no particular opinion about this matter but I have problems with you saying that there are contradictory studies and then claiming your preferred method definitively. You can be supportive of one thing versus another, but as a scientist I have a real problem with you stating something is ‘definitively’ true based on the small sample size that is anecdotal and personal ‘evidence’. Say what you believe as personal opinion but you have no right to pass off opinion as fact. People should make decisions using appropriate data. I would hope you haven’t influenced anyone else with your ‘definitive’ conclusion. Studies like this take a long time to see the results, as the children must be monitored for several years. Most current studies would have only been short term. One day, there will be complete long term studies. Do not pass off your personal experience as equivalent to years of controlled scientific study and statistical analysis on hundreds of children.

kate on

I think discipline IS a form of love. It equips the child over time with the ability to judge and control their own behaviour and understand what is acceptable and what is not.

I get so many requests for play dates with my very well disciplined six year old as other mothers seem to think he is a good influence. At school his teacher says he is very happy and thrives on the routines they have and is able to adapt to things well. We never have any issues with bedtimes or going out to restaurants, public places etc. Of course he is not perfect and his own personality also plays a part in his being a good child, but I do believe the foundations we have laid for him with routine and disciplines are invaluable.

We are expecting a boy in September, and I am interested to see if the same approach will work with another child. It sounds to me that Sheryl is a serious and considerate parent who doesn’t take her children’s development for granted but is connected and deeply involved with them. She sounds like a great mum.