Jessica Alba: How I (Try to) Discipline My Daughters

11/11/2013 at 01:00 PM ET

Jessica Alba Baby2Baby Gala Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Having a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old under the same roof is a delicate balancing act — and one that proud mother Jessica Alba is just starting to truly appreciate.

“Their needs are a little different now,” the actress told PEOPLE of daughters Honor Marie and Haven Garner while attending the second annual Baby2Baby Gala. “They’re getting to an age where they play together and they do fight, which is funny.”

Funny in the sense that the sisters don’t engage in straight fisticuffs, rather they involve themselves in the age-old ritual of sibling rivalry merging with sibling revelry.

“They steal stuff from each other!” Alba shares. “They’re constantly snatching things out of the other one’s hand, destroying something that the other one’s building.”

For Alba, 32, who grew up with a sibling of her own, larceny and wanton demolition of property are par for the course. “It’s normal kid stuff,” she says with a laugh. “I did the same thing with my brother.”

What is still new for the Sin City star — despite having embraced her role as doting matriarch — is figuring out how to mete out appropriate discipline when met with, well, two adorable faces.

“So now it’s, ‘Stand in the corner and put your nose against the wall!'” Alba says. “My 2-year-old can last 15 seconds before she’s like, ‘Okay, I’m done!’, and then I’m like, ‘Wait, it’s not up to you!’ My 5-year-old can go for some time, like a minute or two.”

Though being the disciplinarian may not be her strong suit, Alba is certain of the one noble truth of being a parent.

“Every day I just want them to be happy and good and thoughtful,” she explains. “I just want them to be nice people.”

— Reagan Alexander

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Showing 33 comments

blessedwithboys on

Shaming your child is not discipline, it is punishment… but I guess it’s better than spanking…

shannon on

What is wrong with standing in the corner? It is not shaming your child, it is a punishment for bad behavior.

Hea on

Wow, Americans and us Swedes sure do have different views on how to raise children. Her kid obviously doesn’t even understand why she’s being punished. I don’t either.

klutzy_girl on

Ugh, blessedwithboys always has something to say about everyone’s parenting. She is perfect you know *eyeroll*

Tomato on

I agree with her about the importance of raising children to be nice people- that’s my goal with my child too, but the corner-really? Do people really still do that? Doesn’t seem like she is modeling respect by doing that. For me anyway, respectful discipline works better in terms of teaching how to be nice and respectful.

joan on

ITs a time out for goodness sake! she just makes them look at the corner…. get off your high horses

Anonymous on

klutzy_girl- She’s allowed to voice her opinion, just as the rest of us are.

Daria on

It is normal child development to destroy other kids’ building block towers and snatch things from another’s hands. “Punishment” is not the same as “discipline”. I really like Jessica, but disagree with how she is handling these matters (and since she put it out there how she is handling it, she is open to scrutiny).

A better, more positive approach would be to model what is expected of the child, or redirect them to another toy, or pause for a “time-in”. Put them on your lap and talk to them about what they are doing and address their needs. Putting them in the corner is indeed a form of shaming, and not useful or truly teaching the child anything, other than “Mommy has the power to make me feel bad”, when what she wants to teach is “sharing is good” and “destroying someone else’s things is not something we do in this house”. Just a thought.

Angela on

Someone please explain to me how standing the corner for time-out is a bad thing? You all must be experts, eh? Funny because experts pretty much all agree that a time-out is a GOOD thing. It allows the child to think about what they did wrong and how they can act differently next time. Adults even need a “time-out” occasionally! Just because she didn’t go into a step-by-step explanation of exactly what she does doesn’t mean that she doesn’t explain to her daughters what they did wrong and what the appropriate action would have been instead. Shaming your child by putting them in time-out? That’s quite a stretch…now putting on a duntz cap (I think that’s what they’re called..the long pointy hats) and parading your child around with a sign that they made a mistake, that’s different..but that’s not what a time-out is. Sheesh! I wish all you perfect parents would bring your kids over to my house! They must be perfect little angels!

sahmx3 on

its a time out not beating with a belt cmon. To each there own. Everyone does what works for them.

Charli Mabriel on

I’m super surprised by the shaming & disrespect POV’s. As a child my mom put us in a corner because she felt sending us to our room wasn’t punishment – comfy, toys in there, etc.

I am willing to say that I haven’t found a great discipline strategy for my kids. When my son is “bad” he’ll start to cry & puts himself in timeout so I believe that teaching kids right from wrong works better than timeouts. My children are very well behaved & I honestly think that we just got lucky. I am shocked by how much personality comes “built in” with children.

Also, while I don’t judge those that spank, I used to do that & found that they were violent with each other so I dumped that one.

manomer on

OH for the LOVE of PETE! Just freaking teach your kids what is right and wrong people. You know the kids that shoot up schools or bully others are the ones whose parents either CODDLE them or Ignore them. Both are the opposite end of what should be done. Discipline your kids! Be involved in their life but not their friend…BE THEIR PARENT. It really isn’t rocket science. They do something wrong, warn them with their punishment. They do it again follow through every time. Kids these days are just ridiculous b/c that is all they have been is coddled like a big baby. Ridiculous!

By the way I was spanked as a child, I can’t tell you how many times b/c it had no lasting affect on me all I know is I was a good kid who respected my parents and grew up to raise two great kids who respect their parents.

Angela on

Daria, like I mentioned in my other comment, you must have perfect children. I have 3, 2 boys and a girl, and I can assure you that simply setting them on your lap to tell them how they should act does not always work. Of course you want to give positive reinforcement and model the correct behavior, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to discipline from time to time…and discipline is not a simple talk. I really feel for those of you saying this if you ever have a child with behavioral problems. You’re going to be pulling your hair out! If you haven’t dealt with a child that has ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), ADHD, ADD, Autism (I could go on..) then you really have absolutely no room to talk at all. Come back and give your recommendations whenever you’ve dealt with every single child in the world. They are ALL different, behavior issue or not, and discipline has to be different for each and every one of them. Your way will NOT work with ALL children.

Courtney on

Klutzy_girl – I was thinking the SAME thing! I think I actually said “YES” out load at my desk. If you want to nurse – nurse. And yes you can do it on your own time table – Not 2 years or 2 months just because someone else is. If you want to spank – spank. I was spanked – so was my husband. If you want to redirect – redirect. I think that works too! Every decision that a human being makes doesn’t need to broken down to the nth degree. Have responsible fun!

And Jessica looks beautiful in this picture.

Anonymous on

I guess I’m the most evil mother in the world because I think it’s perfectly fine for children to feel ashamed!!! HELLO!! That’s how you teach humbleness, humility, and the fact that the world DOES NOT revolve around them. Goodness gracious…raising your children to have no shame??? No wonder everyone in Amercia expects a handout or is disrespectful, or feels entitled… smh…

Get a grip, parents. Discipline IS a form of love.

Tina on

I hate articles like this. She’s a parent among millions of other parents In the world. Why would her parenting skills be of interest to the masses. I mean, I don’t dislike her or anything like that but she’s not a leading authority on raising children. I’m sure there are a lot of mothers out there who’s parenting skills/advice would be more relatable to than some celebrity. You do the best you can, hopefully in the child’s best interest. Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs, ever. End of story.

jessesgirl72 on

Wow- how dare she give her children time outs like most other good parents?!?!

“Time In?” Seriously? Oh yeah, the way to get a child to stop bad behavior is to cuddle them on your lap. I bet that works REAL WELL to keep it from happening again…

ras on

She just wants them to be nice people well how about learning how to be respectful to your parents as well as others its starts at home….

armedmommy2011 on

The only issue I see is, how is a nose to the wall teaching them not to destroy their sibling’s things or take things from their sibling?

Its NOT, discipline some other way.

Anonymous on

All she did was explain how she handles her children at home. Nowhere in this article did she say “this is what you have to do, or what you should do.” They are her children, how she raises them is her business. If more parents kept their noses to themselves and focused on what their children need they might raise some decent children themselves!

Angela on

armedmommy, obviously THAT specific thing isn’t what is teaching them that. It’s giving them a time-out to regain their composure and calm down so the parent is able to talk to them. Plus, there are consequences for our actions, right? As an adult if we steal something from someone we go to jail, correct? Wouldn’t jail essentially be an adult time-out? Albeit a little more harsh, but the same thing. A time-out is a consequence and a beginning of a lesson that you have to continue once the time-out is over. I really don’t understand why this is so hard to understand. When a child becomes an adult do you ladies think someone is going to coddle them by sitting them on their lap and telling them what they did wrong? Um. No. We’re not just raising children, we’re raising adults. They need to understand that life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies or they’re going to have a VERY difficult life when they become adults and most likely cause others to have a difficult life for a while as well. Look at society right now. No one has any respect anymore, so many are so narcissistic and think that they are above consequence. Why do you think that is? When did this movement of no-spanking, no time-outs begin? It began around the time that this new disrespectful, narcissistic society were young. It’s not hard to put two and two together. This coddling philosophy is NOT working for our children…at all.

Just Me on

If blessedwithboys thinks standing in a corner is a harsh “punishment”, she’s obviously raising future felons

My Girl on

You ALL have something to say. It is NONE of your business how she discipline’s her children. NONE.

Queenclaire on

Angela, I could not agree with you more!!! Kids (and, increasingly, adults) are over coddled and entitled brats! And it starts in childhood when parents don’t ever impose consequences to actions.

I always tell parents, “When your child grows up and is speeding and driving recklessly on the freeway, do you think the cop that pulls them over is going to tell them, ‘There there, now it’s not nice to drive like that! Let’s have a cuddle and talk about how you can make better decisions in the future.'” No!! Your “precious little blessing” will be disciplined and punished for his or her behavior!

It does children a great disservice to raise them with no real consequences and let them believe the sun revolves around them and then release them into the real world. The real world, they quickly find out, isn’t as nice and coddling as Mommy is.

Katie M on

Time Out does nothing but let the child think how to do it next time without getting caught. SPANK THEIR BUTTS.. If more parents spanked their children butts then maybe kids wouldn’t be how they are today.. a spank or two on the butt doesn’t hurt anybody..

Kiki on

Oh god I wish some of you people would shut up. I got sometimes got spankings as a child. And you know what? And whatever wrong thing I did, I NEVER did it again. I wasn’t abused. The same people who sit here criticizing spankings, or putting your kid in a corner are the same people who have children who are hit their parents, talk back, and are rude to others. Stop being so weak, grow some balls and discipline your kid. And if that were to mean a spanking so be it.

Charli Mabriel on

My sister does the whole if you don’t make what I eat go to bed hungry thing while I – & I’m not proud of this – make food my kids will eat. IMO, if her way worked then you’d only have to do it 1, 2 & boom, they’d eat what’s in front of them but it hasn’t. I share this story because to me it’s similar to spanking. Now, I too was spanked but I didn’t find it as a deterrent because I didn’t stop doing things to get spanked for. That’s why I say teach them right from wrong & absolutely yes, we are raising adults. Which is another pro for not spanking. While it’s true the cop isn’t going to hug you, he’s also not going to smack you.

Katie M on

Kiki Amen to that spanking only hurts their butt for a minute for 2. There is NOTHING wrong with spanking your child..

Amy on

Her 2 year old isn’t going to learn a thing from standing in the corner. Kids don’t learn best from punishment. Punishment deals with past bad behavior. They learn best from discipline and guidance, using mistakes as learning experiences for future situations. Discipline is best handled with natural and logical consequences. There isn’t anything logical about making your 2 year old put her nose to the wall. Terrible parenting.

Amy on

Time outs are terribly misused and a very old school way to handle discipline. If they work, then why does the same child always end up in time out for the same types of offenses? Hint- It’s not actually working!

Darsh on

you people are ridiculous. Are you perfect parents?? She’s simply saying what SHE does. Why are you dissecting her punishments?? Plus, this is just a TIDBIT of the conversation between the writer and Jessica.

Anonymous on

Okay, Amy I’m intrigued. In the absence of “time outs” what is the approach you use with your kid(s)? Don’t keep us in suspense, I will try any (reasonable) approach from the “experts”.

Anonymous on

The way that was written for a second I thought Jessica Alba grew up with a sibling named Larceny.