Todd (age 16) was caught cheating on a test at school.
Anna (age 12) forwarded a text message to her whole class referring to a friend as a “fatty”.
Patrick (age 14) lied about his whereabouts, so he could go to an unsupervised all-night party.
At this point, are you making any assumptions about which child needs the most significant disciplinary intervention to learn from his or her mistake? The Latin root of discipline is “discere”, which means “to teach or to learn”. Punishment, or imposing a penalty beyond the negative consequences that may naturally occur from the mishap, can be a component of a parent’s decision, but not necessarily.
The parent’s goal when deciding disciplinary actions should be the child learning from mistakes. The art and science of this ambitious agenda involves parental judgment about how to best accomplish this objective.
When parents ask psychologists about disciplinary matters, one of our most common refrains is, “It depends”. It may sound dodgy, but deciding on effective discipline requires considering many factors, like age, circumstances of infractions, behavioral history, temperament, and parenting values. Judgment calls are needed to comb through the details and focus on “how can my child learn and grow from this experience?” Continue reading