Discipline Versus Punishment

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Instead of punishing, let's look at what it might be like to teach self-discipline instead. Let's say your child has a habit of not abiding by his or her curfew. The child agrees to the curfew and then chronically comes home late espousing sincere apologies. Naturally, you want to ground them or make them come home even earlier the next time to make up for the infraction.

What do you think would happen if you had a different conversation? What would happen if you attempted to learn what the child was doing that prevented them from being home on time? What would happen if you believed your child when he said he really lost track of time because he got so involved in the game of basketball he was playing with his friend? Your child tells you he meant to be home on time but simply lost track of time.

If your goal is to help teach self-discipline, wouldn't it make sense to help your child find a way to independently remind himself of his curfew. Perhaps he could get a watch with an alarm on it. Or if he has a cell phone, have him set the alarm on it with enough time for him to get home at the agreed upon time.

Maybe in your conversation, you learn that your child no longer believes his curfew is appropriate. Perhaps he thinks because he is older, he should be permitted to stay out later. You may review your expectations and realize that he is right. The curfew you have set may be too early for his age. In this case, you might be willing to adjust the curfew to a later time as long as there is compliance with the new curfew.