Guest Blogger: Melanie Nichols
This March, we are sharing a special series of blog posts from Melanie Nichols. This series was originally posted in February 2021. You can find Melanie and her blog here. If you would like to submit to our blog, please email us.
Love does discipline. As loving parents and teachers, we must be willing to discipline our kids. But what, exactly, is discipline?
When they hear the word discipline, many think of punishment such as grounding, spanking, or losing privileges. While punishment is one aspect of discipline, it is far from the complete picture. Merriam-Webster defines discipline as “Control gained by enforcing obedience or order; self-control; punishment; training that corrects, molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.” On the other hand, Merriam-Webster defines punishment as “Suffering pain or loss that serves as retribution; a penalty inflicted on an offender through judicial procedure.” Perhaps the most significant difference between discipline and punishment is the focus. Punishment focuses on controlling behavior, while discipline focuses on building character.
This chart, from an article on favoritefamilies.com (link below), highlights some key differences between punishment and discipline.
Discipline is not just punishment. Discipline is also not allowing children to act however they choose. Discipline does involve consequences for poor choices. But when we engage in discipline rather than punishment, the end goal – kids that are growing into adults of good moral character – guides our actions, conversations, and attitudes.