The word ‘discipline’ means ‘to teach’ but I prefer to think of it as: To teach, assist and guide a person develop self-control.
All opinions on how children should be disciplined can be divided into two main camps; those who believe parents should have the right to smack their children and those who are opposed to the use of physical punishment. I want to make my position very clear. I believe that parents who neglect to firmly discipline a child put the emotional and moral development of the child at risk, and make it more difficult for that child to form healthy relationships as an adult. Firm discipline is a necessary part of responsible parenting and the failure to meet that responsibility should be classed as a form of child abuse. However, I also want to make it very clear that although punishment remains an option, the negative effects of using it led me to not only be against physical punishment, but against the use of any punishment as a means of discipline.
To many people that may seem an extraordinary contradiction. How can strict discipline be maintained without punishment? Does that mean children should be allowed to do anything and not be corrected at all? Obviously my strong belief in the need for strict discipline rules out such permissiveness and is backed up by research indicating that each child should go through a stage in life when rules are obeyed simply because they are the rules, and authority figures respected simply because they are in positions of authority. That doesn’t happen by letting kids do whatever they want to do.
Some of the many tools available to help discipline people are:
- Love grounded in equality.
- The Fairness and safety guidelines for making rules.
- Conflict resolution Guidelines.
- Truth-seeking debates rather than adversarial debates.
- Knowing the difference between punishment and consequences.
- The restorative action process.
- Voluntary punishment.
- Restorative consequences.
- Social contracts (cooperation\noncooperation.
- The Reality questions.
The most effective way for people, including children, to become responsible, interdependent individuals is by the example of others and being held accountable for their actions. Anyone can use these tools to establish peace and harmony in the home, workplace and community. An additional tool for decision-making suited to large groups of people is called Open Space Technology.
As you can see, equality provides many ways to discipline people without the need for punishment.
Bob Myers, Author of Travelling the Road of Peace and Happiness.