Discipline Versus Punishment
by Teresa, The CuteKid™ Staff
Discipline and punishment are often used interchangeably, but they
are not exactly the same thing. Punishment is considered the consequences
of a child not following the rules. Discipline is the teaching and making
a child to obey the rules. Some parents are discipline-based, others
punishment-based, and many are a combination of the two.
The results of the disciplining or punishment types of parenting can
also bring about different results. According to Dr. Ed Wemberly,
author of A Parentís Guide to Raising Great Kids, discipline-based
parenting works better at changing a childís behavior and bringing
about long-term results. Punishment-based parenting causes more
immediate results in behavior but the motivation is temporary. It
can also hurt a childís self-esteem and create feelings of anger
Here are some characteristics and results of using a discipline -based parenting style.
Here are some characteristics and results of using a punishment -based parenting style.
- Children learn values that are generalized to other situations. For example
treating a sibling nicely at home carries over to classmates at school.
- Parents are consistent. When a child misbehaves they always receive
consequences for their behavior. When possible the consequences are
pre-determined and match the misbehavior.
- Parents and children communicate. When the child misbehaves the parent
explains why the child is being punished and asks for a reason why the
- The results of discipline-based parenting include closeness and
trust between parent and child.
- When a parent disciplines they are still in control of their
emotions. I remember being spanked by my dad as a child. He would
take me in the living room and calmly explain why I was being spanked. Then he
would lay me over his knee and swat me on the rear. Then he would tell
me he loved me. He was always in control.
- Discipline-based parents realize the difference between mistakes
and misbehavior or challenges to their authority. Mistakes are not
disciplined. For example a child should not be punished for
accidentally spilling food on the floor or tracking mud in the house.
After reading these characteristics, what type of parent are you? If you find
that you lean more towards punishment you might want to reevaluate your system
and learn some new techniques to better discipline your child.
- Children learn that they better not get caught when misbehaving and
if they donít get caught there will be no punishment.
- Consequences are inconsistent and unpredictable. As a child my husband
was never sure if he would get into trouble for a certain behavior. As a
result he took the risk, because in his words he had a fifty-fifty chance
of getting away with it. When he was caught the punishment was often
severe or not enforced. A week grounding usually only lasted two days
before his parents forget or grew tired of him being around the house and
sent him off to play.
- In punishment-based parenting few words of explanation are given
by the parent, often leaving children confused and unsure of the
behavior that warranted the punishment.
- Children who are usually punished have a hard time
trusting. They may react with anger and isolate themselves
from their parents.
- Punishment is given out of anger or frustration. It is
often excessive and the parent is not in control.
- Parents do not recognize the difference between mistakes
and misbehavior. Both receive punishment.