Parenting – The Difference Between Discipline and Punishment 

Parenting – The Difference Between Discipline and Punishment (Part 1)

by Aigul Aubanova on April 23, 2010

in Articles for parents

Comparing discipline and punishment in parenting is like comparing an apple with an orange, or more precisely, an apple tree with an orange.

By discipline most parents assume something positive. We can say “well-disciplined child” with approval, whereas we can’t say “well-punished child.” The latter doesn’t sound right, it sounds too negative. Parents want the child to be disciplined, but not punished. However, discipline involves punishment. So parents have to accept that some sort of punishment is necessary in the process of the child’s healthy moral development, some sort of good punishment. The rest of punishment is assumed to be bad. What is this sort of good punishment?

Many experts call it “consequences.” For example, when a child is late for dinner, he or she has to eat cold food, or doesn’t eat at all, because the parents chose not to feed the child, hoping to teach a lesson. This is a consequence of being late for dinner. Even if it is called a consequence, it is still punishment: it hurts, it is unpleasant to be hungry. The goal of this punishment is to make a child fear being late again. As as result, if the procedure is consistent enough, the child is learning “discipline.”

We would like to make an important note here. Very often, such process of disciplining a child is like training a pet. Parents “give” consequences (read – punishment) to the child for an undesirable behavior, (and reward for good behavior). Because children are not pets, instead of desirable fear of consequences, that parents expect, the children feel anger toward their parents for being heartless and unintelligent.

The real consequence (punishment) that “teaches” doesn’t come from the parents. It comes from anything or anyone else, but parents. It comes from the demands of other people, from life. For example, if a family has plans to go to the movie after dinner, and a child is late for dinner, he or she would not have a chance to eat in time, they all rush to the movie and the child is hungry – that is the real lesson! That hurts too, hunger is unpleasant, and that punishes the child very well. The parents role here is to feel compassion to the child.

to be continued…

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