Discipline and Punishment are Not the Same

Discipline and punishment are two different things but the words are often used interchangeably, but in the world of child development, they mean different things.

 

Discipline is an intentional consequence, given by the parent or caretaker, for inappropriate action and designed to be a teaching moment for the child. It is not an emotional or angry reaction.

 

For example if a two-year-old who insists on throwing food at the table has been warned that continuing to do so will result in the food being taken away, and the child throws the food anyway, taking the food away calmly is both a logical consequence and a disciplinary action.

 

The intent is to teach the child that throwing food is not acceptable and that there are consequences to such behaviour. If the child is very young, such as the age given in this example, the parent and child can have a "snack" an hour or so later. This will still teach the child the lesson and also ensure proper nutrition.

Discipline and punishment are two different things but the words are often used interchangeably, but in the world of child development, they mean different things.

 

Discipline is an intentional consequence, given by the parent or caretaker, for inappropriate action and designed to be a teaching moment for the child. It is not an emotional or angry reaction.

 

For example if a two-year-old who insists on throwing food at the table has been warned that continuing to do so will result in the food being taken away, and the child throws the food anyway, taking the food away calmly is both a logical consequence and a disciplinary action. The intent is to teach the child that throwing food is not acceptable and that there are consequences to such behavior. If the child is very young, such as the age given in this example, the parent and child can have a "snack" an hour or so later. This will still teach the child the lesson and also ensure proper nutrition.

 

On the other hand, if the parent were to scream and hit the child for the same behavior, that is considered punishment. It was administered by a parent who was not in control of his or her emotions and it has very little ability to teach a child about appropriate behavior. It only teaches the child to expect pain if the child throws food.

 

Countless other actions by a child could be substituted in this scenario, but the important issue here is the attitude and intention of the corrective action. If correction is given while the caretaker is in an emotionally reactive state and lashing out in anger, that is not discipline that teaches the difference between right and wrong. Instead, it can teach a child that yelling and hitting are appropriate behaviours.  (adapted from http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/child-abuse-prevention/discipline-and-punishment-are-not-the-same.cfm).

 

Check The Differences In Discipline and Punishment   (http://positiveparenting.com/discipline-punishment/)
 

Discipline is used to teach and guide.

 

Punishment is used for the purposes of controlling and retribution. Young children do not commit crimes. Their mistakes call for a corrective disciplinary response.

 

A study on the moral development of children found that children who feared punishment tended to have less guilt, were less willing to accept responsibility, were less resistant to temptation and had fewer internal controls than children who were not punished.

 

Punishment interferes with the development of internal controls by teaching children that it is someone else’s responsibility to control them and decide what behavior is “bad” and what the consequences will be. Children may then conclude that it is OK to misbehave if they can avoid getting caught or if they are willing to accept the consequences.

 

Discipline teaches children a particular misbehavior is bad because it violates the social order, thus promoting the development of internal controls.

 

A 1985 study shows a correlation between corporal punishment and stealing, truancy, aggression, hostility, lying, depression and low self-esteem.

 

Punishment causes children to focus their attention and anger toward an “unfair” adult rather than on learning to be responsible for their own actions.

 

Violence perpetuates violence. In a recent landmark study, 41% of parents believed that a child should be spanked for hitting.

 

Punishment validates fear, pain, intimidation and violence as acceptable methods of resolving conflict. Corporal punishment denies children equal protection under the law – the rules of our society say you should hit children but may not hit another adult. Sweden and five other countries have outlawed spanking children.

 

Physical punishment can escalate into battering and can result in permanent physical, mental, spiritual or emotional harm. It also confuses the issue of love and violence, teaching that violence can be an expression of love.

 

Punishment creates a final solution with the adult acting as judge, jury and executioner.

 

Discipline creates dialogue and communication with the adult acting as teacher.

© 2011 Barbados Children Directory

 

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