Every child needs discipline – but why you should never punish

Whilst disciplining your child may sound the same as punishing them, their actual meaning – and the effects on your child are anything but similar.  Every child needs discipline but there are deeply important reasons why you should never look to punish.

Every child needs to learn how the world works and their place within it.  They need to understand that certain behaviours are ok, while others are not.  And they need to understand that, despite the feelings that may be raging within them, they have control of their behaviours.  And along with this control comes responsibility for their actions. 

When you allow your child to take responsibility for their actions, they can learn that actions come with consequences – good and bad.

If you punish your child, physically or emotionally, you are taking all control and responsibility away from them.  And as the attention becomes focused on the wrong that has been done, any opportunity to develop a genuine caring or responsible reaction is removed.  While this may seem to have some success in the short term, the only thing you are teaching your child to do is what you want them to do. 

But look beyond any short-term goals of a compliant child.  Or making life easier in the moment and consider instead what you want for your child in the long-term.  Don’t you want them to have the skills they need to make better decisions?  To manage their own behaviours, with the social skills they need ready for when your guidance is not around?  And do you really want to raise a child who immediately does as they are told without question?  What does that look like as a teenager or if they find themselves in a difficult relationship?

Your growing, developing child is learning many new skills, some will come easier than others, and mistakes will be made

When you can see mistakes as part of the learning process, you can encourage your child to learn from them.  When children are given the space, time and permission to try new things, without being afraid of making a mistake, their motivations soar.  But this needs for them to be encouraged to take the next steps.  Knowing you have the faith in them so that when things do go wrong, they can put them right. 

This needs discipline, where mistakes are viewed as opportunities to learn and grow, and dignity – on both sides – is left intact.

And remember, our behaviours are – in big part – a learnt response to the way we are feeling in this moment.  And the emotions that all of this is triggering.  So, consider the lasting memories you are giving your child in this moment.  Do you want them to remember the negativity that surrounded their attempt at being creative?  Or when they tried to be independent with the jug of milk?  Or do you want them to remember the faith you had in them, that although they had made a mess, they learnt the skills to put the mistake right.   

This session is taken from our course: The Secure Child

Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods.  Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child.   www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk

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