The Difference Between Punishing And Disciplining My Child

20 months.

What if we aimed for the same outcome for adults who do us wrong as we do our own kids when we discipline them?

I mean, instead of instantly wishing that a person suffers, what if we honestly hoped to see them restored to decency?

What if instead of wishing for annihilation for our enemies and frenemies, we wished for restoration and positive progress?

If I take away my son’s security blanket/girlfriend or put my son in time-out for no reason, then I am punishing him.

But if I do either of those things after I already warned him against something and he refused to cooperate, then I am simply following through with disciplining him.

To me, that is the difference.

It’s punishment if there is no cause. It’s discipline if it serves a purpose to make my child a better human being.

I’ve said it before: Disciplining a child is a weird thing.

Everyone has their own approach to it that they feel most comfortable with and find to be the most effective. But I’m for certain that no parent disciplines their child in secret hopes of making them suffer indefinitely for their offenses.

Instead, we want our children to mature and become less selfish. We want the best for them. By doing so, we make the world a better place.

So here’s something I think is messed up about us as adults: It’s way too easy for us to want to see other people cursed and suffer when they offend us, rather than them being blessed and enriched.

If someone cuts us off in traffic, they are automatically a jerk who deserves to be flipped off.

No matter how good of a person they may be outside of that single moment. Forget about how hard they work for their family and how they help others out of the goodness of their hearts.

For cutting us off, they become labeled as idiots who have no hope of redemption.

In fact, in that heat of the moment, the thought of that person being redeemed is absurd. It’s natural and easy to generalize them into an evil and moronic imbecile who intends to make your life hell; or at least annoying.

Simply said, we want that person to suffer. Who cares about forgiveness, redemption, or reconciliation.

And then, for all we know, the next day we coincidentally see them at the gas station and they say to us, “Excuse me, but you dropped this.”

They hand to you your debit card which slipped out of your wallet. You thank them; neither of you even aware of the incident the day before.

We discipline our children to help them, not privately wish bad things upon them. Yet we so easily want to judge and punish those who slightly offend us or have the opposite view as we do on a political or parenting issue that doesn’t even personally concern us.

By the way, if you live in Nashville, I’ve probably cut you off before on the road. But only because you seemed to be going slower than you actually were, but I realized it only after I had already pulled out in front of you.

Oops. My bad.

Here’s a quote from my favorite song right now, performed by 10th Avenue North:

“Why do we think that hate’s gonna change their heart?
We’re up in arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
But pride won’t let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but just to burn them down
We think pain is owed apologies and then it’ll stop
But truth be told it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not”

 

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  1. [...] The difference between punishing and disciplining a child (Parents.com) [...]

  2. by Crystal

    On August 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I believe that the difference here is between being an adult and being a child. Not saying that people are always correct in being so hard on other people, each person’s circumstance is different, but lessons such as common courtesy and respect are those that should have been ingrained, second nature even, long before adulthood. The fact that there are so many rude, selfish people is indicative of a society wherein there are very few consequences for your actions. Those that have led a life of owning their behavior thus become cynical and jaded. The truth is, however, that you have no power over others and being negative only hurts you, not them.

  3. by Ashley Roberts

    On August 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Very well said. Thank you so much for sharing!

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