Commandments 5 - 7
Thou shalt strive ever to change behavior, not to teach moral lessons.
In other words, discipline isn't about convincing Suzy that she really likes Billy, it's about convincing her not to kick him, no matter what stupid thing he said to her or how much blue paint he spilled on her painting of Barbie's moon landing. Discipline is about helping children regulate their behavior rather than their thoughts. For instance, I've tried hard to teach my kids to be good hosts and guests, but I've never reproved them for expressing less-than-enthusiastic sentiments about the other child when the visit is over. I think they're entitled to their preferences, as long as the rules of polite hosting and guesting are observed.
If we teach our kids properly, they'll grow up to be good, hand-washed citizens, capable of lavishly thanking someone for unwanted advice and able to restrain themselves from kicking an irritating colleague.
Do unto your child as you would have others do unto your child -- or whatever you do, don't hurt anyone.
Many elements of child rearing are tough -- discipline, consistency, keeping your temper -- even with someone much smaller than yourself, even with someone you love dearly. If you ever find yourself over the edge (scaring your child, grabbing her too tightly, feeling like you might just snap), have your mother or a friend take over for a while and get some backup and support. Don't risk losing control and doing something you don't actually want to do that could haunt both you and your child.
The end does not justify the means (and discipline is the means).
To put it another way, even if your daily life is full of disciplinary moments, don't let those moments take over. If the sum total of life with your child seems to be about saying no and scolding and handing out penalties, then something's gone wrong. Even if you're doing all that disciplining in the most approved gentle and consistent way, it shouldn't be the main tenor of your days. Look for activities you and your child enjoy doing together (reading aloud; eating finger foods outside, where table manners don't count; legitimate mess making; plain old silliness). This will take the pressure off and help you both have some fun in situations where there are absolutely no formal lessons to be learned.
That said, parenthood can be profoundly educational, and while we're learning some difficult home truths about the nature of our own character and disposition, we might at least have the pleasure of reading Curious George or learning to finger-paint along the way.