“Discipline Without Distress”: Chapter 3 “Discipline, Not Punishment”

This chapter talks about the differences between discipline and punishment.  Punishment means to hurt by causing physical, emotional or social pain whereas discipline means to teach. 

I like this quote:  “Punishment disconnects parent and child.  It also produces anger, resentment, retaliation, fear, submission or passive aggression in the child.  It produces  guilt, remorse, and inconsistency of action in the parent because no one likes to see their child suffer for very long.  Discipline, on the other hand, is respectful, caring, and gives attention to the relationship.  Discipline does not intentionally hurt.  Both sides are left feeling connected.”

I think this is a major point; in Waldorf parenting we talk about how if you start out thinking you versus child in your head that you have already lost.  The magical and sacred connection between a child and a caring adult is broken, and no good teaching or imitative example for the child to follow can come from that. 

This chapter also talks about the difference between praise and encouragement and how encouragement is what one gives another during the process, and how praise is given at the end of a project.  Praise is frequently a judgment of the child, and in a way a kind of bribe as the child must “earn” the praise by doing the “right” thing (which is judged by the parent).  Encouragement, on the other hand, is something you can give a child that is not doing well, a child who is making mistakes, a child who needs to feel accepted and capable. 

The author talks about “overindulgent children.”  She mentions in this quote:  “Overindulgent children are ones not embraced in love, caring, and  nurturing their feelings.  They are not picked up when they cry as babies and don’t have anyone to acknowledge their feelings or care about what they think as children.  They are undernourished in caring, love and attention, and over-nourished in consumer goods.”  The author goes on to paint a very specific picture of what a overindulged child looks like, and what an overindulgent parent looks like.    This involves the whole concept of boundaries, which is something that Donna Simmons of www.christopherushomeschool.org talks about with frequency. 

The reality is that parents and other family members do have needs, and it is okay to teach your child that other people have needs!  Setting limits can be for the safety, health and sanity of all family members. 

The author writes, “The essential component of setting limits is sometimes we have to say “no” to our child’s request.  True discipline is not about making a child do what he is told, making a child come when called, or making a child keep his room clean.  It’s about helping him to be an interdependent person in charge of his future.  It’s about raising him to respect other people and to be responsible and caring also to himself.” 

She goes on to write, “Somehow, we expect our children to accept our “no” with pleasantness and  politeness, which is pretty  unrealistic when we can’t even muster that as adults!  The key is to stay calm after you say “no”.  You are dealing with a child’s anger.  You’re modeling self-control and self-discipline and that will go a long way in teaching a child to handle theirs.”

Children are  often verbally corrected many times a day, and the author points out that “no” can lose its impact.  Save your “no” for the big things, and let your rhythm carry the day.  Save your “no” for the things your family has decided is important in your family mission statement. 

Till next time,


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