Discipline your child: Know the difference between discipline and punishment

Find out the difference between discipline and punishment, and learn how to effectively discipline your child.

Contrary to what many parents may think, discipline is the act of teaching a child to be responsible, self-controlled and obedient. This is usually done by setting guidelines, rules and expectations for your child.

Discipline also requires you to follow up disobedience with consequences that will teach children the value of obedience. It’s all about learning from their mistakes.

In a sense, discipline is a process that is part of character development.

Punishment, on the other hand, focuses on the misdeed. It is all about making the child feel badly for what they have done (or not done).

In other words, punishment is a single act of displaying disapproval for a child and their actions.

What it means to discipline your child

When you discipline a child, you have the child’s best interest at heart. Your intent is to teach the child what it’s like to grow and learn from their experiences.

When you discipline your child, your intent should be to help your child take ownership for his wrongdoing, to hold him accountable and to give him the necessary skills for making wise choices in the future.

Thus, discipline is all about:

  • Helping our children understand their wrongdoing
  • Requiring our children to acknowledge their wrongdoing
  • Helping our children understand that they need to ask forgiveness for their wrongdoing
  • Requiring our children to ask forgiveness
  • Requiring our children to make retribution for their wrongdoing
  • Teaching our children right from wrong and requiring them to act in such a manner
  • ‘Doling out’ consequences that fit the ‘crime’ — remember, the point of discipline is to teach our children

Reasonable consequences include grounding, loss of privileges, extra household chores, and so forth.

Discipline vs. punishment

As mentioned earlier on in this article, punishment is an act that focuses on the wrongdoing of a child. It is usually meant to make a child feel bad for their actions.

Punishment includes humiliation, corporal punishment, shaming, psychological isolation and even physical abuse.

If you want to discipline your child, yelling at and shaming her is definitely NOT the way to go!

If you want to discipline your child, yelling at and shaming her is definitely NOT the way to go!

After reading the definition of punishment and taking a closer look at what punishment really is, most, if not all, of us parents would probably re-evaluate our discipline methods to see if they are really for disciplining our children, not punishing them.

To discipline effectively, it is important that we:

  • Remain calm. Act rather than react.
  • Get the facts first. Even disciplining in haste can be wrong.
  • Consider the child. Some children respond better to loss of privileges while others will remember better by doing extra chores or writing letters of apology.
discipline

Time and time again, positive discipline has proven to be more effective than punishment.

  • Focus on teaching life lessons. Don’t focus on the actual misdeed.
  • Keep the past in the past. Once the incident is over and dealt with, let it go.

Now, we’d like to know — how do you discipline your child? Do you agree that punishment should not be the “focus” of discipline? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below!