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Discipline through teaching

September 7, 2011

A Great Idea…

“When discipline is seen as teaching and is conveyed with a great deal of empathy and nurturing care, children feel good when they comply. It is a warm, nourishing feeling to feel that you are the gleam in someone’s eye.” (Pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton and psychiatrist Stanley I. Greenspan in their book, The Irreducible Needs of Children, p. 146)

In Other Words …

Sometimes we confuse discipline with punishment. The goal of discipline is to instruct children and to help them grow. We want them to learn autonomy. The goal of punishment is to make children suffer for something bad they have done. When we seek to teach rather than punish our children are much more likely to respond and take the lessons to heart.

How This Applies to You …

The next time your child does something unacceptable, set aside the impulse to punish. Choose to teach. When both you and your child are feeling peaceful, talk calmly about the misdeed. Help your child see better ways. When you discipline instead of punish your child, obedience will develop based on a desire to please you rather than fear you.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas, visit our Navigating Life’s Journey blog.

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at and, if you have children less than 6 years of age, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in depth reading on parenting, we recommend The Irreducible Needs of Children by T. Berry Brazelton and Stanley I. Greenspan or The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting by Laurence Steinberg

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