Mar 22, 2010


The Noun and the Verb of "Discipline"

As a noun, discipline is usually understood as:
  • behavior in accordance with rules and regulations
  • instruction to obtain proper action
  • the training effect of experience or adversity
  • behavior maintained by training
Example: "The basketball team showed a lot of discipline."

As a verb, "to discipline" is usually understood by parents as:
  • to bring to a state of order and obedience
  • to punish or penalize in order to train and control
Example: "Parents discipline their children when they misbehave."

You seldom get much controversy about the noun, because it makes us think about order, cooperation, knowing and following correct procedures--such as the discipline of a marching band or symphony orchestra.

However, the verb "to discipline" makes us think of control, punishment, penalty. The controlling and punishing type of discipline creates a lot of controversy. Here is a list of its synonyms: curb, restrain, keep in line, correct, harness, inhibit, chastise, reprimand, criticize, punish.

Think of the "teach-train-guide" kind of discipline as an effort to influence, while the "restrain-restrict-punish" kind of discipline is an effort to control.

Obviously, most parents strongly want to have the ability to influence kids have a positive effect on their lives. But in practice, most parents fall into the trap of trying to control kids by making rules, imposing limits, giving orders and commands, punishing or threatening to punish.

Such control-type methods don't influence children; they only coerce or compel them. This is a crucial difference.*

*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's Family Effectiveness Training Adult Resource book

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