There is a big difference between discipline and punishment, as parents and guardians, we sometimes punish while trying to discipline kids. We also punish unconsciously because we do not know where to draw the line, and do not realize when discipline has taken the form of punishment.
Discipline is the means by which we correct faulty behavior in kids and them them correct and acceptable behavior. When we discipline children, we teach self-control and obedience, we try to shape the child's behavior away from what is not desired towards what is desired.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DISCIPLINE AND PUNISHMENT
- Discipline considers the level of maturity and capacity of the child, whereas punishment is what
is meted out on a child for failing an assigned task that is beyond the child's level of maturity and capacity.Like smacking or yelling at a two year old for accidentally breaking a glass he is asked to keep in the kitchen.
- Discipline ensures that the correct behavior is taught and learned. Punishment just satisfies the parent without teaching anything new to the erring child.Punishment does not give the child an opportunity to change, but discipline does.
- The purpose of discipline is to correct, while punishment is retaliation. After a child is disciplined, s/he gets an education, but a child gets punished as a form of retribution because that child won't let the parent enjoy precious time alone or because the kids start fighting when the mother is at the middle of an interesting story in the novel she is reading, then she gets angry, drops the book and locks the kids up in their room. These two kids learn nothing and the mother succeeds in putting them away to enable her enjoy her novel without distractions.The mother succeeds in retaliating by locking them up 0r using any other form of punishment that will just enable her read her story, without trying to find out the cause of the fight, and settle the matter between the kids, this parent has just punished these kids.
- Discipline has more to do with the child's behavior, while punishment has more to do with the parent's (hurt) feeling. Punishment craves vengeance and is done in anger.
- Punishment is often unjust.
- Discipline does not hurt back or take revenge, it acts on reflection. Punishment has that emotional urge to hurt someone who has hurt you.
- Punishment is carried out in anger and sometimes rage.
Typing this right now, I still remember moments when I pulled my baby girl by the hand to another room and locked my door, because she will not just let me be, even after explaining to her that mommy is very tired and needs only a few minutes to just nap and re-energize. There is one common thing we do as parents that we really need to find a way to curb. We yell or unconsciously "download" stress from work or other issues on the kids. There are times kids cannot tell whether we are in the right mood or not. We do not want to let them in, we do not want to bother the children with our problems, so we just keep bottling every feeling whenever they are around us until it gets to a point where we cannot keep it in any longer and to let out some steam, we yell and begin to address everything as a 'matter of fact,' become so serious and judgmental that the kids get confused, begin to behave in a queer manner, and then we get more frustrated, angry and stressed up, and finally vent on them.
All those times we satisfied ourselves that what we are doing is discipline, when actually, we have angrily punished the kids are times to feel sorry about. *wink.* Imagine withdrawing love from a child because that child cannot perform as good as the other kids, can we say that is discipline? When we become mean, because we are not satisfied with a child's performance, that is not discipline.
When we treat some kids favorably and more passionately than others for whatever reason, that is punishment and not discipline.
HOW TO DISCIPLINE A CHILD
- To discipline, there is a specific objective that the parent seeks to achieve, so let us always try to ask ourselves what is it that we want a child to learn after this process of discipline. For effective discipline, there must be teaching from the parent, and learning by the child.
- Give a child warning, and remind him of the consequences of his actions. Failure to heed to this warning can attract some appropriate disciplinary measures. Always spell out the consequences of misbehavior to the child, is it withdrawal of TV privileges for frequent inability to complete homework or reduction of playtime for a child who likes to bully his younger ones. Whatever the consequences, let the child know ahead of time. I used to have one list on my kitchen wall, we all wrote it together. The kids used to often go there to remind themselves of the consequences for some behavior at home. I did not have to remind them because it was hung boldly on the kitchen wall for everyone to see. It is all fade now and I think it is time for a replacement now that they are all home for holiday.
- Include consequences for positive behavior too. The child should have an urge to do what is right because of the results for right behavior. If a child gets disciplined for misbehaving, then a child should get rewarded for appropriate behavior and obedience. The reward for "delayed obedience" should not be the same as the one for instant obedience to a parent.
- Try as much as possible to forget the grievance when the discipline is over. Show love after discipline, and avoid reminding that child by constantly talking about the offence.
- Before our kids reduce us to children while they become the parents in the family, it is Ok if we do not give explanations all the time just to earn a child's obedience. Sometimes we can just say something like; "Do it because I said so." After all, I am still the parent here. Kids ask for explanations too many times and they are very good at arguing their way out. Must the kids always have it their way? Children are children and cannot always be right. Lol!
- Here in Africa, we still believe in " spare the rod and spoil the child" when the case demands. In case in your part of the world, you can get arrested and lose your kids for "NOT SPARING THE ROD," then look for other disciplinary measures that work there and try to always remain the parent without necessarily causing tension or friction between you and the kids, especially the teenagers who will do everything in their power to resist discipline. There are still many subtle ways of getting them to be the children and not the "parents."
- Finally, I would like to say that effective discipline has to do with us as parents being the models. If we tell kids to watch only age appropriate movies and Television shows, then let us not become the temptation in the family. You know what, I said it on an earlier post and will say it again. These kids grow up so fast, before you know it they are grown and gone. When they are gone, we can not turn back the hands of time. A little sacrifice of our comforts for their sake is very rewarding in the long run. Sometimes it can feel like we are really losing for the sake of the kids, but not to worry, just a little while and they are gone, and we have all the time to really live anyhow we want in our homes.
To discipline effectively, let us try as much as possible to be their role-models, so that no one takes our place in their hearts. If we teach them that something is wrong, let us not be caught doing that thing, so that we do not destroy the confidence our kids have in us.