Some parenting philosophies state that the word "Discipline" comes from the word "Disciple", which means to teach or to lead. Discipline is different than punishment as it has a purpose, is planned, and is never arbitrary. Punishment can lead to power struggles and feelings of injustice because there is no logical lesson learned, just the lesson that if I'm bigger than you, older than you, or stronger than you, I can punish you…and when you're talking parent and child relationships, parents and children lose.
Understand that discipline, when provided effectively, requires an understanding of behavior and it's roots. Many behavior problems can be changed with logical or natural consequences, except in the case that a child is behaving in a life-threatening or morally threatening way. In that case, a parent needs to step in and stop the behavior. In the event that a child is using drugs or alcohol, being sexually promiscuous, or participating in other anti-social and dangerous behaviors, disciplinary action needs to be based on keeping the child safe. In the event a child is participating in dangerous activities and is not responding to parents' attempts to stop the behavior with discipline, professional intervention may be necessary.
Logical and natural consequences are a discipline tool that teaches a child what logically or naturally follows behaviors. The beauty of letting a child experience consequences is that in the event of positive behavior, there is often a positive consequence. Adlerian based child psychology discovered many of these principles and gives off a pretty good overview of the strategies, emotions, and methods to disciplining effectively, leading children to become responsible, happy, and successful members of society.
Adlerian Child Guidance Principles
(Revised November 26, 2004)
- Mutual respect based on the assumption of equality is the inalienable right of all human beings. Parents who show respect for the child-while winning his respect for them-teach the child to respect himself and others.
- Encouragement implies faith in and respect for the child as he is. A child misbehaves usually when he is discouraged and believes he cannot succeed by useful means.
- Feelings of "security" are highly subjective and not necessarily related to the actual situation. Real security cannot be found from the outside; it is only possible to achieve it through the experience and feeling of having overcome difficulties.
Rewards & Punishments
Reward and punishment are outdated. A child soon considers a reward his right and demands a reward for everything. He considers that punishment gives him the right to punish in turn, and the retaliation of children is usually more effective than the punishment inflicted by the parents. Children often retaliate by not eating, fighting, neglecting schoolwork, or otherwise misbehaving in ways that are the most disturbing to parents.
- Natural and logical consequences are techniques that allow the child to experience the actual result of his own behavior.
- Natural consequences are the direct result of the child's behavior.
- Logical consequences are established by the parents, and are a direct and logical-not arbitrarily imposed - consequence of the transgression.
- Natural consequences are usually effective.
- Logical consequences are most effective if there is no power contest; otherwise, they can degenerate into punitive retaliation.