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Punishment VS Discipline: Only Discipline Works

Punishment VS Discipline: Only Discipline Works

There is an important distinction that must be made between punishment and discipline. Sometimes these two get used interchangeably but there is a big difference.

Punishment is a negative experience imposed on someone in a subordinate position in response to an action or behavior that was unacceptable. For example a parent might punish a child for misbehaving. It is hoped that the negative experience will serve as a deterrent so the child does not repeat the misbehavior. Punishment can come in the form of being grounded (that can include a number of restrictions) or being sent to one’s room or a time out location. An old fashioned punishment was to write 100 times, “I will not…” And of course there are parents that believe in physical punishment or spanking. None of these punishments are very effective in deterring the undesirable behavior but it certainly makes the recipient unhappy and sometimes demoralized.

Discipline on the other hand is more about mutually setting rules, understanding the reasons for the rules and agreeing to the consequences. It is important for the person in the leadership role to follow through with the consequences. This type of understanding makes it possible to prevent unwanted behavior which is far better than responding to the unwanted behavior after the fact.

The word “discipline” comes from the same root as the word “disciple” which means to teach. So discipline is more about teaching than punishing. Discipline is something we carry with us as adults. We need to discipline ourselves to engage in healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, exercise, waking up on time to go to school or work, and being productive in whatever we do. This is what we try to teach our children

As parents, the most effective way to discipline is to set up a daily structure with built in rewards for doing the right things. It is important to make it easier to succeed than to fail. This builds confidence and self-esteem. Expectations should be reasonable and attainable.

Two important aspects of discipline include:

1) Allowing for setbacks without getting derailed.

2) Getting rewards at regular intervals rather than at the end of a long stretch.

This helps a person stay motivated. This process is as effective for adults as it is in disciplining children. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Children in particular act impulsively because the executive function in the brain is not fully developed. If you ask a child why they did something, they are very likely to say, “I don’t know.” That is a valid answer.

Nobody is perfect. It is important to correct and redirect a child, reminding the child about the expectations and consequences. Using a compassionate voice, let the child know that the consequences will be enforced. There is no need to engage in a debate about it.

For discipline to work it has to be consistent. Once the rules become random or intermittently enforced, the whole system breaks down. It becomes a frustration. The parents lose their authority and the respect of the children. The children become anxious and insecure. The emotional confusion causes kids to misbehave more. They try to test the limits so that they can understand where the boundaries are. Children like certainty. It makes them feel safer knowing a parent or responsible adult is in charge and is strong enough to do what needs to be done.

Some parents feel bad about enforcing rules. They don’t want their children to get upset and cry. It is far better to be kind and consistent than to buckle and give in.

As adults we know that we have to follow rules or risk the consequences. If we speed, we run the risk of getting a ticket. Nobody likes to get tickets. If we have a job, the workplace has rules. If we break the rules there is a good chance we will lose our job. Nobody likes being fired and not having an income.

With proper discipline, we teach our children what the expectations are and what the consequences are. If we provide a lifetime of consistently helping our children understand right from wrong and showing them that doing the right thing has its rewards, then children will get better and better at self-discipline. The more self-discipline a person has, the less they have to face negative consequences and the easier and happier life will be.

Footnotes:

Guidelines for consequences:

The consequences for not following the agreed upon rules should be of equal severity to the offence. For example, if a child comes home ten minutes past curfew, it is unreasonable to ground the child for a month. The longer and more unreasonable the consequences are, the more likely they will not be adhered to and that will undermine the adult’s authority.

The consequences should be enforceable. Eliminating the use of all electronics or screens for a week would be difficult to enforce if the child needs a computer for school or is out of the parent’s site for large periods of time.

If possible, the consequences should relate to the offence or serve as a teachable moment. If the child did damage to the home, they should use their free time to try and fix the damage or do extra chores to earn back the cost of fixing what was damaged.

 

Circumcision in America, Why???

Circumcision in America, Why???

Recently I watched a documentary on Netflix called “American Circumcision.” It was disturbing to watch because it was yet another example of how sheep-like the American people have become, myself included. I was raised Jewish so it’s not surprising that I went along with the tradition of circumcision without questioning the practice. However, after watching this program, it hurts me to think that I had a perfectly healthy part of my son’s anatomy surgically removed without a good reason, without his consent and worse of all, without anesthesia.

I learned in the film, “American Circumcision,” that in ancient time, a small portion of the foreskin was removed. Over time it became a radical surgery that involves removal of virtually all the foreskin. At some point, maybe in the 1950’s, it became common place for American boys, just a few days old, to undergo this procedure before leaving the hospital. Welcome to earth, little guy!

The foreskin is supple, loose skin that provides a protective layer of skin over a very sensitive gland. The body is not like a battery pack, where God said, “Remove this tab before use.” People are not born with extraneous parts that require removal for optimal functionality. The human body is pretty perfect as is. Most Americans would agree that female circumcision seems barbaric. It is often referred to as female genital mutilation. Why is it any different when it is done to boys? Maybe the difference is that some people think a circumcised penis looks better than an intact penis. Is that really enough reason to make it okay?

It turns out the foreskin is not a superfluous skin tag. It serves some important functions.

  • The foreskin is loaded with sexual sensitivity, so much so that stimulating the foreskin with a finger can lead to orgasm. In fact, the most pleasurable part of the circumcised penis is the scar area where the foreskin used to be.
  • Without the foreskin the sensitive surface of the penis can get dry from exposure and irritated from continually rubbing against clothing. Sometimes this can lead to a thickening of the skin called keratinization. This can make the penis even less sensitive to sexual stimulation. Is it any wonder why so many men have sexual dysfunction?
  • The foreskin design allows the penis to glide in and out of itself requiring less lubrication, less effort, and more closeness with a partner during the sex act.
  • Removal of the foreskin is a delicate and precise operation that can easily be botched causing permanent disfigurement and/or dysfunction.

So there are many reasons why an intact penis is better than a circumcised one. In addition to that, what about the trauma to the new born baby? Contrary to what was believed in the past, babies are very sensitive to pain, both physical and emotional. Strapping a baby’s arms and legs down and cutting his delicate skin is excruciating and cruel. Even if he is too young to remember, it can damage his psyche. There is no telling how this early experience might affect the boy and the man as he grows up. Some of the men interviewed for the documentary reported feeling very angry at their parents. They felt betrayed that something so personal and invasive was done to their body without their consent. A growing number of men are undergoing a process to stretch and regrow the foreskin. It takes a long time and the results are probably not as good as the original but it is better than nothing. A story was told about a man that decided to go through with the restoration process because he had so little sensitivity that he was unable to reach orgasm and he and his wife desperately wanted children. Once his foreskin was restored the sensitivity came back and they were able to conceive. Needless to say he was thrilled. He thought it was well worth the effort.

So if you are planning to have children, think about this decision carefully. Don’t believe everything that is said about the perils of keeping the foreskin. Do the research. There are plenty of perfectly healthy, intact men in Europe and other parts of the world where circumcision did not become the default procedure. Don’t do this to your son just because most Americans are doing it. He trusts you to act in his best interest. Don’t let him down.