Friday, December 7, 2007

Discipline and Punishment

Discipline is often thought to be punishment. When people say to discipline a child, it connotes to punish a child. And this should not be so.

Discipline is a teaching/learning process. It is establishing the boundary which the child is allowed to do and have and which is not. It is reprimanding, explaining and teaching why there are things that a child are not allowed to do and to have. Punishment on the other hand is a negative consequence for misbehavior. It is used to reduce, if not eliminate misbehavior. And it is seldom used (should be!).

Misbehavior, this is something that we, parents, and everybody who are in the childcare profession or line of work, should expect. Again, as I have mentioned in my past posts, children are inherent to misbehave simply because they don’t know yet which is right from wrong, proper from not, safe from harmful. Another reason why children misbehave is also for the lack of time, and attention of the parents. Children yearn for approval and acceptance. Like adults, it is something that they have to feel to be happy. And the parents’ inattention and lack of time could mean otherwise. This would then prompt the kids to do things that will catch the parents’ attention, and often it means misbehaving, when this happens, most often than not, parents resort to punishment.

My friend’s adopted son learned about punishment at such an early age. Barely two years old, he experienced being locked up in a dark room alone, for several minutes. When his adoptive grandfather was not able to make him behave the way he wants him to, the child was beaten. The beating was severe because the stick left a swelling mark on the child’s butt which lasted for several days. The reason, the child would not stop crying because at that time my friend was not home (she is in my house actually) and he just wanted to be held by his adoptive grandmother. When I heard about this I was so infuriated. To beat a child, to punish a child for the reason of crying, it is absurd! It is infuriating, especially that the child is only 1 year old, almost 2. And since he was locked up and beaten, he cried the more!

Punishment is not something we do to a child when he behaves the way we would not want him to. Actually punishment, when used as the every resort to discipline will only make a child behave worse. Punishment should and only be used when talking and explanation of consequences to a child does not work. And again, when we say we talk to a child and explain why things are not to be, it does not mean also once. We have to consider the age, or level of understanding of a child. For ages 1-4, expect that you have to explain things with love and patience several times before you could expect the child to obey. For older children, when thoroughly explained the situation to them, most often they obey at once, especially if explanation comes with a hug and a kiss.

Discipline is not all punishment. It is just a part discipline. And most often, in disciplining our kids, punishment is rarely needed. For our kids to behave, we only need to discipline them, rarely to punish them.

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mommabear said...

I agree raising a child is hard work. I have teen girls and it's hard to keep up with everything they are into. I sometimes think that I need to put a tracking device on them. I actually found one at bigdaddyspy that lets parents monitor cellphone conversations and text messages. Not sure if I will purchase it or not, but it sounds good.

sazamom said...

This is a very good post! I agree our children behave certain ways because of how we as parents treat them.New follower.