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Discipline and Punishment

Posted on 10/2/2015 by SuperUser Account

Discipline and punishment are often misunderstood terms that get used interchangeably when it comes to parenting. At Play Therapy i.n.c. we believe that every parent, teacher, caregiver, and therapist (basically anyone who takes on the role of helping shape the lives of our children) does the absolute best they can in any given moment. Which means that we are not perfect and have moments of feeling like we somehow failed as parents, teachers, caregivers, or therapists. Guess what, that means we are human, and have an opportunity to reconnect and repair. We also believe that when it comes to our children we all want the best for them and to live healthy, connected, integrated lives. Which means a lot of bumps in the road and moments of wanting to pull out our hair or just scream. This is where discipline, punishment, and parenting styles enter into the picture.

Discipline and Punishment

Discipline and punishment are often misunderstood terms that get used interchangeably when it comes to parenting. At Play Therapy i.n.c. we believe that every parent, teacher, caregiver, and therapist (basically anyone who takes on the role of helping shape the lives of our children) does the absolute best they can in any given moment. Which means that we are not perfect and have moments of feeling like we somehow failed as parents, teachers, caregivers, or therapists. Guess what, that means we are human, and have an opportunity to reconnect and repair. We also believe that when it comes to our children we all want the best for them and to live healthy, connected, integrated lives. Which means a lot of bumps in the road and moments of wanting to pull out our hair or just scream. This is where discipline, punishment, and parenting styles enter into the picture.  
Dan J. Siegel M.D. and Tina Payne Byson, PhD.  in their new book No Drama Discipline: The Whole Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind  provide a framework for approaching these difficult topics from a brain based perspective.  In our culture we often associate discipline with punishment.  As a helpful point of clarification, the root of the word discipline means- to teach (Siegel & Payne Byson, 2014). In contrast, Webster dictionary defines punishment as ‘a suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution.’  I can’t imagine any parent I come into contact with on a daily basis saying they want their child to experience suffering and pain (emotional or physical). I do hear parents say they want their children to pay attention, follow directions, not talk back, stop lying, control their impulses, do better in school, show respect, and stop using aggressive behaviors. Usually followed by something like: "well I just don’t know what to do", "I take stuff away", "they get a spanking", "I put them in time out", "make them say I’m sorry", and  "nothing I do seems to work", "that is why I am here". I imagine the interactions that prompt these common concerns from parents are most likely reactions when we are angry, disappointed, or just plain shocked and are often accompanied by lots of drama.  

Here are some tips for moving from fear creating reaction to skill building responses (Siegel & Payne Byson, 2014).  

“Before you respond to a misbehavior take a moment to ask yourself 3 simple questions:
1.Why did my child act this way? Approach with curiosity
2. What lesson to I want to teach in this moment? Think less consequence and more what do I want to teach (ie: self-control, the importance of sharing, acting responsibly) 
3. How can I best teach this lesson? Consider developmental age/stage, and context of situation then how can we most effectively communicate what we want to get across

When we stop and answer these questions we’ll be much more likely to respond in way that’s effective in stopping the behavior in the short term while also teaching bigger, long lasting life lessons and skills that build character and prepare kids for making good decisions in the future.” (Siegel & Payne Byson, 2014)
If you are interested in learning more about effective discipline to use with your child or attended one of our Whole Brain Child Book Studies and have been wanting more sign up for our next book study on No Drama Discipline.