Have you ever had one of those moments when you realized your kids are being way too quiet? You know what that usually means…they are up to no good. As you enter the room, see the mess, and start to feel your blood pressure rise it’s now time to decides how to respond. Are you going to punish your children, or will you discipline them?
I know we usually assume these are the same thing, but they are not. Punishment’s focus is paying for wrongs already done, where discipline is training to prevent future wrongs from happening. Punishment trains children’s emotional brain to fear consequence, where discipline trains the intellectual brain to assess situations for the best possible outcome.
So back to that mess, think about how you would normally communicate with your children when this happens. Forcing your child to clean up the mess could be either discipline or punishment. It all comes down to your motives, and how you communicate them. Did you make them clean up the mess because they are in trouble? Well, that’s punishment. On the other hand, if they cleaned up the mess so they understood what goes into cleaning, then it’s discipline.
Often the difference is subtle but important.
What are some unique ways you have disciplined your children?