The Difference Between Punishment and Discipline

Today, we’re going to talk about punishment vs discipline. I talked about this a few times in the Parenting Posse as I’m noticing people use these terms interchangeably, so I think it’s time for a MudRoom that we can refer back to as needed.

The concepts of punishment and discipline are so often conflated and it’s really stressful not only for children who are obviously the recipients, but also for their parents.

If I had a nickel for every time a parent has said to me “I know I need to discipline them, but no matter how I punish them – it doesn’t work!”

I could afford to take every family in ParentAbility on a Caribbean vacation. If you don’t understand the distinction between punishment and discipline, it’s super frustrating as a parent! It is generally when I see parents starting to get “creative.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE advocate for creativity in almost every aspect…but when it comes to disciplining children…not so much.

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“Creativity” in discipline tends to be a euphemism for “makes no sense” then we’re confused as to why children aren’t learning.

Let’s start with defining punishment.

What is a punishment?

Dictionary definition-wise, punishment is “the infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense.”

When you look it up in a thesaurus it comes up with retribution, revenge, sanctions, vengeance, and penance. Therefore, when you are punishing a child – you are getting revenge on them.

You are making them pay for what they’ve done. 

It’s eye-opening, isn’t it? Come join us in the Parenting Posse to take the conversation further!

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About Allana

Hi, I’m Allana. I teach parents of toddlers and preschoolers why their children are misbehaving and what to do about it without yelling, shaming, or using time-outs. When not teaching parents about behaviour you can generally find me chasing around my two boys, reading cheesy romance novels, or hanging out with my own parents.

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