What’s the difference between Punishment and Discipline?

Punishment – teaches resentment and fear and can lower self esteem. Punishments include:

  • Threats, yelling and put-downs where sometimes threats are carried out, sometimes not and yelling makes things worse.
  • Taking things away for both small and big things which have nothing to do with what the child did wrong.
  • Spanking and hitting show children hitting is a way to solve a problem and is often done out of anger resulting in guilty feelings afterward.

Discipline – on the other hand, attempts to teach children self-discipline and helps guide to be more responsible.

  • Discipline is a process, both in terms of learning to discipline and learning from discipline takes time.
  • The keys to discipline are to show respect, expect your child to cooperate, set limits, provide choices and apply consequences.

Consequences fit the misbehavior, are for bad choices not bad kids, are about now not the past and are firm and friendly.

  • Consequences can be a natural consequence such as getting wet if the child chooses not to take an umbrella.
  • When a natural consequence is not safe or a behavior does not have a natural consequence then create a logical consequence.
  • Avoid power struggles.

Contact me to discuss these concepts more and/or if you are struggling with parenting or having conflict with your adolescent to learn more ways to open the lines of communication.

These concepts are taken from Dinkmeyer, McKay  & Dinkmeyer. Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP).


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