What does the word discipline conjure up for you? Takes you right back to childhood, right? Did you like being disciplined? I bet not.
When I talk about the benefits of shared power, connection, and problem solving, parents inevitably ask, “Are you saying that we shouldn’t discipline our children?” or “Isn’t that undermining my authority?” Great questions.
The dictionary defines discipline as “using punishment to correct disobedience”. However self-discipline is defined as “train[ing] oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way”. When you discipline yourself, do you inflict punishment on yourself? A sacrifice may be necessary but only if you want a new habit more than you want the old one.
The derivation of the word discipline is “from the Latin disciplina ‘instruction, knowledge'” as in disciple. We know that children learn best when they are fully engaged in experiential instruction—not through the experience of isolation, shame or losing privileges. A mother came into one of my weekly groups with an assignment from her five year old. He said, “Mom, ask your parenting group what you should do instead of sending me to my room when I’m bad, because it doesn’t work, you know. All it does is make me mad.” There is our lesson on punishment.