Discipline Versus Punishment

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Do you know the difference between discipline and punishment with their Latin roots? Punishment implies inflicting pain, while discipline means to teach. Parents who use punishment are missing important opportunities to teach their children better behaviors and help them self-discipline. Children can actually be taught responsible behaviors to help them get the things they want without breaking the rules.

However, when parents are only interested in compliance, they often impose strict and severe consequences to stop or prevent the behavior. This generally leaves the child not thinking about how they were wrong and need to develop more appropriate behavior, but leaves them instead thinking about how unfair their parent is.

Punishment generally teaches children to become better at not getting caught, rather than stopping the undesirable behavior.

All behavior is purposeful. We don't engage in behavior-responsible or not-for no reason. Everything a person does is that person's best attempt to get at least one of his or her needs met in the best way available at that time. Children do not set out to be intentionally "bad." The "bad" behaviors they engage in are helping them to meet a need they have, which is why they do it.