With schools shut down due to COVID-19, many parents are now forced to take the lead in their child’s learning. In this situation, instilling discipline at home will be very important. Establishing structure all day can be very challenging for parents. Bad attitudes and foul moods are all part of the job, and learning to use discipline vs. punishment is a skill parents will need to learn as they home-school their children for the time being.
Discipline Vs. Punishment – What’s the Difference?
Whether you have toddlers or teens, discipline uses positive relationships and reinforcements as a way of teaching children how to use self-control, be confident, and take responsibility for their actions. Discipline provides values that can be used throughout life in order to make good decisions. Punishment is a negative way of providing discipline and can be harmful in the long run. Health educators suggest that parents begin using positive reinforcements to negate unwanted behaviors at an early age. Doing so helps make positive reinforcement an effective strategy as the child gets older.
What Are Ways to Discipline?
Discipline usually falls within three different categories: corrective, preventive, and supportive. If a child is unaware that their actions or behavior is unacceptable, then the parent should exercise corrective discipline. For example, if a twelve-year old boy has not been taught to fold his clothes and put them away, it would only make sense to teach him how to do it. Instead of yelling or grounding your child right away, explain to him what you expect next time. If the behavior continues, then parents should emphasize the expectations and explain the consequences or a loss of privileges, such as two days without his phone or gaming system. Discipline should fit the behavior and not be extreme. Be sure to also recognize when your kid does the right thing.
Preventive discipline is engaging the child or keeping them busy to prevent misbehavior. Parents can also exercise supportive discipline to provide a child with suggestions and options for correcting a behavior before a consequence is necessary.
What Is Punishment?
The word punishment can mean many things to different parents. However, punishment in a negative sense usually involves instilling fear to get a child to do what you want. Punishment can be physical, such as spankings. It can also be mental, such as timeouts or being made to feel guilty for undesired behavior or a wrong decision. Punishment can have a negative outcome, especially when parents use it when they’re angry. It is usually done to impose a negative or unpleasant experience on the child in hopes that they will not make the same choice again.
Unfortunately, children who are punished instead of disciplined are more likely to become aggressive and act out even more. Parents who use positive reinforcements to teach their children how to be respectful and have self-control from an early age are more likely to be effective at managing behavior during those tween years. Be consistent but firm, and include your children in the discussions about consequences for their actions