Heart & Mind:  Parenting

DISCIPLINE AND PUNISHMENT ARE NOT THE SAME THING

by: Denise Esecson, MFT

Many parents use the words “discipline” and “punishment” interchangeably.  The dictionary informs us that discipline is from the word “disciple” which means “a student” while punishment has to do with “pain”, “harm” and “suffering.” 

Taking a closer look at these two words allows parents to make a choice as to what is in the best interest of their child as well as to identify the specific goals of the “behavioral intervention.” 

Punishment
Even when done with the best intentions, punishment has been shown over time to negatively affect academic performance, social competence and increase antisocial behaviors throughout the childhood years and into young adulthood. 

Discipline
If your goal as a parent is to “teach”, “train”, or help your child “develop” the necessary skills to lead a successful life and make a positive contribution to the world then “discipline” is the way to go.

Discipline is not just a word. It is an approach to life that includes, above all mutual respect (between you and your child) and a reasonable, related and respectful response to all behaviors.

Discipline asks us as parents to answer the following question: “How do I want to be treated by others?” In other words, no matter how angry you are at your child, he or she still needs to know that you love him. For some of us this attitude comes naturally, but most of us need to learn the “discipline of disciplining.”

Here are some basic DISCIPLINE guidelines:

  • “Respond” to your children in a respectful manner to correct unwanted behavior rather than “demand” to exert your control over them.
  • Whenever possible include your child in finding a solution to a problem that is preventing you and your child from having a positive relationship.
  • Help your children make choices as a way of learning the skills necessary to learn good decision making skills in their lives

The “Golden Rule of Parenting”
What is the most RESPECTFUL way of helping a child change negative behavior into positive behavior?  

The answer will always be:
Remember how YOU (the parent) would want to be treated by others.


This Article Discipline And Punishment Are Not The Same Thing was written by Denise Esecson, MFT