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Discipline is not Punishment


February 16, 2013 by admin

By Arwen McGilvra-

Discipline is not Punishment, Punishment is not Discipline….

This is an important distinction, but I think it has been lost in the modern world of parenting. We’ve made the two ideas into one. We think that when we punish a child for doing something wrong we are installing discipline in them.

Just take a look at the definitions:


1. to improve or attempt to improve the behaviour, orderliness, etc, of by training, conditions, or rules 2. systematic training in obedience to regulations and authority 3.the state of improved behaviour, etc, resulting from such training or conditions


1.a penalty inflicted for an offense, fault, etc. 2. the infliction of some kind of pain or loss upon a person for a misdeed (i.e., the transgression of a law or command)

When I think about someone who is disciplined I think about an athlete who can push himself to get up every morning and train, or a pastor who can spend hours in prayer, or a law student from the ghettos who studies harder than his peers to make the grade. All-in-all I look up to people who are disciplined, and wish I had a little more disciple in my life. I’d like to be able to have more focus, better time management, and the ability to say no to those tempting cookies.

I certainly don’t look at my life and say I wish I had more punishment. Punishment creates fear and worry. For some that is enough to change behavior. I’m afraid of being caught and punished when I’m speeding, so if I see a police car I slow down. Children might be worried that mom will be mad, and scream at me (and maybe won’t love me) so they don’t draw on the walls.

But you see discipline is training. Wouldn’t you rather train your kids how to behave? Sometime in the course of training consequences happen. We learn from consequences when they are natural and logical.

Next time I’ll explain a little more about how consequences are different than punishment.


  1. Wonderful blog, very glad I stumbled upon this!

  2. I agree and disagree. I agree because disciplining can be done yourself and can be the complete opposite of punishment. I disagree because when I punish my child it causes them to discapline themselves not to misbehave in the same way again. My conclusion is that they are different things but can be linked.

    • thetechchef says:

      Good point. I think that punishment should be saved for extreme behaviors. Consequences on the other hand, can reinforce discipline. I’ll go more in-depth about that in my next blog. I hope you’ll stay tuned.

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