• Amy

Punishment vs Discipline…Is there a difference?


We were recently asked: “Why is our once sweet child being so defiant when we punish him?” Our November newsletter focused on the “why” of his behavior and included steps to redirect the misbehavior. This month, let’s discuss Punishment vs. Discipline. We will further expand on the use of punishment and offer alternatives.

Often the words punishment and discipline are used interchangeably, but there is a definite difference. Understanding this has been an eye-opening experience for many parents who have attended our programs. When they changed their discipline and communication approach, they saw a change in their child’s behavior.

Let’s begin with the word punishment which means to subject another person to pain, loss or embarrassment for an offense, fault or transgression.

Picture this: After you’ve worked long hours and put your best efforts into a project, you proudly present your work to your boss. The response you hear is; “This is useless! How can we show our client this stuff?! What is WRONG with you?”

Now picture yourself in the role of the boss and your child is on the receiving end of the message. Is this the way you want to gain your child’s cooperation?

There is an alternative approach…

“Discipline” comes from the Latin word “disciplina” which means to teach. Think of your favorite teacher, the person who treated you respectfully, guided your learning process with positive feedback and gentle correction. Isn’t that the feeling you want to establish with your own child? When an adult teaches instead of punishes to gain cooperation, our children: