Drawing The Line Between Discipline and Punishment
Sun, April 11, 2021

Drawing The Line Between Discipline and Punishment

Parenting is not always sunshine and rainbows. In fact, a lot of times, there can be stress and frustration especially when it comes to the behavior of children, which leads to parents disciplining them physically / Photo by: o_shumilova via Shutterstock

 

Parenting is not always sunshine and rainbows. In fact, a lot of times, there can be stress and frustration especially when it comes to the behavior of children, which leads to parents disciplining them physically. Those who resort to this kind of action usually claim that it is the best way to instill discipline in their children, but critics say that corporal punishment can have a negative effect on the development of a child that lasts through the years.

However, it is not hard to find people who would say that they have experienced a smack or two from their parents when they were young and most of them believe that it helped them to become a better person who follows rules and respect the authority. On the other hand, there are equally as many who don’t subscribe to this kind of discipline. 

They believe that there is a bigger chance that physical punishment can cause children to become aggressive toward other people. They think that what children need to be well-disciplined is a home where they can learn things by being allowed to commit mistakes and parents simply guiding them through it all. 

 

Corporal Punishment

According to a definition provided by UNICEF India, an organization committed to working with the government to ensure the safety and wellness of young children, corporal punishment is “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degrees of pain or discomfort, however light.” The definition also stated that this includes the act of “smacking,” “slapping,” and “spanking.” 

Additionally, corporal punishment is also manifested through none-physical form when a parent belittles, humiliates, denigrates, threatens, scares, or ridicules the child.

Many people use discipline and punishment interchangeably. However, you must understand that these are not the same. Parenting For Brain, a website that provides articles about parenting concerns, defined “discipline” as a practice wherein someone trains other people to behave in accordance with rules or a code of behavior.

Many people use discipline and punishment interchangeably. However, you must understand that these are not the same / Photo by: Cat Act Art via Shutterstock

 

Punishment vs. Discipline

When it comes to dealing with a child’s misbehavior, parents must realize that there is a big difference between punishment and discipline. Verywell Family, an online resource for articles about parenting and child-rearing, explained that punishment from parents usually focuses on making a child suffer from breaking the rules whereas discipline is something that teaches a kid how to make a better decision in the future. 

Punishment is something that is handed out when for a child’s wrongdoing. Sometimes parents would punish their children out of a feeling of frustration toward the bad behavior of their child. It might not be obvious, but punishment from parents can be an act of desperation when the parents feel the only way to correct their child is to spank them, shout at them, or take away one thing the child values much. Parents do this in an effort to send the message that a specific behavior of the child is not acceptable and must be changed for the better. 

 

Discipline 

On the other hand, discipline is where parents and caregivers teach children new skills like how to manage their behavior, solve problems, and deal with uncomfortable emotions. Instead of instilling fear, discipline helps kids to learn from their mistakes using an authoritative approach and the adult teaching them to act in a socially appropriate way while dealing with difficult emotions. The goal of this approach is to give kids a clear understanding of the negative consequence of certain behaviors. This lesson will be helpful when they get older.

On the other hand, discipline is where parents and caregivers teach children new skills like how to manage their behavior, solve problems, and deal with uncomfortable emotions / Photo by: Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock

 

The Negative Consequences of Punishment

Most adults believe that physically punishing a child works because they have successfully made them behave after a good spanking. However, physical pain is never a good choice for discipline. This kind of behavioral conditioning doesn’t help young kids to fully understand self-control and to adopt the appropriate behavior. 

Article published by Raising Children, an Australian parenting website, mentioned three big drawbacks of spanking. First, this kind of punishment will hurt the child physically and they may not understand why you are hurting them. As a consequence, it might induce in them a negative emotion toward you. Second, smacking might give the child the wrong message that hitting someone to correct them is acceptable behavior. Lastly, this kind of punishment could also increase the chances of children to develop long-term health problems. The site also stated that children who are smacked can be more aggressive than children who do not receive such treatment. These children might also have a more challenging behavior, anxiety, or depression.

 

What Should Parents Do?

Managing your frustration toward your child is the first step to have an efficient plan for instilling discipline. You must know how to handle the stress you are feeling in order to not let it boil down to your kids. Always keep in mind that children will commit mistakes as they are still learning the ways of the world and most of the time, they don’t mean what they have done.

While corporal punishment is still a contentious subject even at this point, one thing should be made clear to parents: Do you really want to hurt your children?