How well does your own philosophy match up to the purpose and definition of discipline?
The definition of discipline
The Merion Webster dictionary defines discipline in several ways. As you read each one, try to pick out the definition that best fits your own idea of discipline:
Training that corrects, molds, or perfects
Control gained by obedience or training
A system of rules governing conduct
To train or develop by instruction and exercise, especially in self-control
To bring under control
To impose order upon.
So which of these definitions best fits your philosophy? If you answered #1 or #4, you’re on the right track. If you answered #2, #3, #5 or #6, you’re embracing a more authoritarian philosophy based upon control and ~E obedience. While this may work in the short term, it usually fails to develop the type of internally-motivated discipline that benefits you and your children in the long run.
The difference between discipline and punishment
Many parents hold the mistaken belief that discipline and punishment are the same thing. They are not. Punishment is merely a tool sometimes used to aid discipline, and not a very effective tool at that. In fact, children can be well-disciplined with very little punishment.
The purpose of discipline
Discipline is about teaching, not punishing. The word itself actually comes from the Latin root of disciple, which means one who teaches. When you discipline your children, the goal is not to punish or impede their autonomy, but to teach. In every discipline situation, you should always ask yourself what you’re teaching your child.