A New Approach to Discipline that Works

It’s fair to say that you want your kids or the kids you work with to make good choices and do what they’re supposed to do, right?

But sometimes nothing seems to stop their bad choices.

When you think of disciplining your child or student, what result is it having?  

Take a moment to think about your beliefs around the purpose of discipline and the actions these beliefs lead you to choose.

Do you perceive discipline as a way to correct, chastise or punish kids for disobedience so they learn to obey the rules and do what you want?

This is a pretty standard way to look at discipline.

What this looks like is time outs, loss of electronics, being sent to their room or out of the class, missing fun family or class outings, and maybe being yelled at.

Pretty normal stuff right?

But I have one very important question for you: Is it working?

Is it working with those kids that it doesn’t seem to matter how big the punishment or consequence gets?

Is it working with children who take everything to heart and feel terrible about themselves when they get punished?

The pitfall with this perspective is it creates a power dynamic where you as the adult are tasked with choosing a response that ends the child’s undesirable behavior.

The goal is submission. The child only has two responses: submit or resist.

What if discipline could be a way to educate or instruct kids so they learn to make good choices (more often than not) because they have the emotional, social, and problem solving skills they need?

What this looks like is being curious and exploring with your child what they’re experiencing (even if it makes no sense to you.) This helps them develop insight, or a greater understanding, for how they work, and problem solving skills.  

It’s asking questions and teaching skills. Your goal is learning.

  • Is there a specific skill you can teach them that will help?
  • Is the behavior more a function of their developmental level?
  • Are they wired to be more sensitive or strong-willed and need support with regulating the intensity of their emotions?
  • Are they hungry or tired?

There are many people who will choose to continue to view discipline as punishment and tell you you are wrong for considering and creating a different way.

I get that, but what I know is that if discipline as punishment was working, we wouldn’t have the challenges we have in our households and classrooms. It may even be creating more problems than it’s solving.

We are on the cusp of a major paradigm shift away from punishments and rewards and towards connection.

What would change in your life if you shifted the purpose of discipline from punishment to learning? What would be possible for the connection you have with your kiddos?

If this is a new concept or you’re not sure exactly how to implement this, not to worry, you can receive more support in our membership community, the Emotion Guide Collective.