Here’s a quick one question pop quiz. What’s the difference between punishment and discipline? According to Dr. Ed Wemberly, author of A Parent’s Guide to Raising Great Kids, although the two words are often used interchangeably they are not the same. Discipline is the practice of making someone obey rules, while punishment is the consequences of not following established rules. The differences may be subtle but they are still significant and must be considered if we want to be the kind of parent our kids need us to be.
What type of parent are you? Are you a discipline-based parent? Or perhaps you are a punishment-based parent? Don’t know what type of parent you are? Read on to find out some of the characteristics of the two.
The author notes seven differences between the two. In general, if you use discipline-based parenting you will be more likely to bring about the desired behavior change you want. On the other hand, punishment-based parenting may result in the immediate behavior changes we want but it is also more likely to tear down a child’s self-esteem and leave them feeling insecure, angry and only temporarily motivated to behave.
(1) A discipline-based parent teaches values that are generalized to other situations while a punishment-based parent teaches the child that they better not get caught the next time.
(2) Discipline-based parenting is consistent and when possible, involves a set of predetermined consequences. On the other hand, punishment-based parenting is inconsistent and unpredictable.
(3) Discipline-based parenting involves communication and following up with action. Punishment-based parenting involves few words of explanation and actions that leaves kids both puzzled and surprised.
(4) In discipline-based parenting, closeness, intimacy and the ability to trust others is created. When parents practice punishment-based parenting, distance, insulation and kids who are angry, rebellious and slow to trust is the result.
(5) Discipline-based parenting happens while parents are still in control of their emotions while punishment-based parenting takes place out of anger, frustration and with little or no self-control.
(6) Discipline-based parenting realizes that challenges to authority are normal and can be used to teach values and expectations. Punishment-based parenting wants to change unacceptable behaviors and attitudes.
(7) Discipline-based parenting recognizes the difference between mistakes and challenges to authority while punishment-based parenting does not.