Creative Child

Debunking Myths About Positive Parenting - Myth #2: Positive Parents Don’t Discipline

by Rebecca Eanes

Last week, I debunked the myth that positive parents just want to be friends with their children. You can read that article here. This week, I want to address the idea that we simply don’t discipline our children. “But kids need discipline” is a recurrent comment on my Facebook page, and I must say that I absolutely agree. Kids DO need discipline! So do teachers, firefighters, artists, store managers, farmers, - every responsible, productive human being. So, the question is, what is discipline and how do we make sure our kids have it?

If you look up the definition for discipline today, you’re going to get something along the lines of “to punish or rebuke for an offense,” which I think is an unfortunate twist of the original Latin meaning, “instruction or knowledge.” I almost never punish my kids, but I do offer a lot of instruction and knowledge (which I wouldn’t do if I were permissive). Therefore, I definitely discipline my children, just not in the same way as many, and there’s a reason for that.

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The conventional way of discipline, to punish for an offense, is problematic for several reasons:


By doling out an immediate punishment, we’ve skipped right over an attempt at understanding the cause of the behavior. We miss what the child may need taught or helped with in favor of a quick-fix solution to make the behavior stop. Unfortunately, when we miss the cause or need behind the behavior, we’ve missed a key opportunity to help the child learn to understand and control himself.

Ultimately I think that’s the real goal here – a child who is self-disciplined (who doesn’t need a parent following her around enforcing rules). We want them to know how to do what’s right when we aren’t there with our threats and parental power. Yet we undermine our own efforts when we skip the teaching what’s right part in favor of the quick fix.

Related Article: Positive Parenting: Accept Feelings, Limit Actions

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