So many times parents have asked what is the difference between Punishment and Discipline and what should I use?

Punishment is the act of inflicting a consequence or penalty on someone as a result of their wrongdoing, or the consequence or penalty itself.

  1. The act of grounding a child for wrongdoing is an example of punishment.
  2. A spanking is an example of a punishment

Discipline originates from the Latin word disciplina which means “instruction” and derives from the root discere which means “to learn.”

  1. People often confuse ‘discipline‘ with ‘physical punishment’ but they are quite different. Discipline is about guiding children and helping them learn what is expected.
  2. Through proper discipline a child will gradually learn how to control their own behavior.

You don’t need to physically or mentally punish children to teach them. Treat your child with respect and they will learn to treat you with respect. Be their model.

In many ways consequences or punishments, a Dominant Parenting style, are easier than instilling your child with life skills! You get instant, forced integration of your rules and standards.

What is Dominant Parenting? Here are just a few examples:

  • In the Dominant Parenting, love is conditional and stopping the behavior is more important than the relationship with the child.
  • Love is given conditionally depending upon the child’s behavior.
  • Parents CONTROL their children by using their ‘POWER OVER’ their children.
  • Parents use fear, shame, guilt, and manipulation (praise and rewards) to control their child’s behavior.
  • Parents are disciplinarians who are not to be questioned by their children.
  • Children must obey their parents at all times.
  • If you give children too much attention, you will spoil them and they will manipulate you in order to get what they want.
  • Manipulation, Praise and Rewards – Bad behavior is punished and good behavior is rewarded with things like stickers, stars, toys and candy as prizes are given when the child pleases the adult. Threats and bribes are used as well.
  • Parents know best and must be respected at all times. 

Dominant Parenting is most likely the style of parenting your parents used, so it would be normal that you would follow their example. You can break the cycle.

The reason being is that the brain science research tells us that your child is not actually learning the behavior you seek to instill. That is because the “learning area” of the brain is shut down when you use the Dominant Parenting style and the child will just comply to please you.

However, I am not here to tell you what to do. You know your family and what needs to be done. That begs 2 questions…

#1: If learning isn’t happening when you use consequences and punishments using the control and fear associated with the Dominant Parenting style, what is happening?

#2: What do you do to keep order in your life and your home without the tools you have relied so heavily on in the past?

Girl looking out window

First let’s cover #1. What is happening in the Dominant Parenting style is that you are crippling the child’s emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to connect with another person.

Emotional intelligence is so important. In fact, several studies have shown that emotional intelligence is a much more accurate determination of future success than I.Q.!

Emotional intelligence is the core of learning because we open up to receive information, guidance, and skill much more readily from those we trust than from those we fear.

This concept brings us to question #2. What will replace the parenting style you are accustomed to?

As a parent seeking more from your relationship with your child, use cooperation, compassion and empathy. How?

Replace consequences and punishments by clearly defined values and clear age appropriate expectations.

Replace conflict between you and your child by being in partnership with your child through any conflict you face. Ask yourself: What was your child’s intention? Don’t react.

Think it through. Is your child tired, hungry, needs some alone time to decompress or may just need you to be present and not say a thing.

Mom with piggyback ride

When conflicts occur, instead of pitting your power against that of your child, join forces to get results in a way that works for both of you!

  • Be present for your child.
  • Listen without judgement.
  • Ask how you can help him/her to work through their feelings.
  • Understand that they cannot fully explain what they feel or why they are felling the way they do.
  • Help them through patience.
  • Be their guide.

Parent with kid at beach

I hope you see how the implementation of simple but profound shifts will massively transform family life from stress into a connected, shared adventure. I invite you’ll start opening your heart and mind to the idea of peaceful parenting to Bring Harmony Home.

Remember download the 7 Step Guide to a Thriving Family without Yelling! to refer to when you feel you need an extra energy boost to help you stay on a healthy emotional path for you and your family.

Written by Cindy Marvin

Cindy Marvin

Cindy Marvin is a parenting coach, educator, speaker and founder of Repairenting, LLC. Her mission is to help families reconnect and begin to enjoy their time with one another and Bring Harmony Home. Through her ability to deeply listen without judgment and create a safe environment, Cindy helps families create positive changes in their lives that have dramatic lasting effects for years to come.