What Is the Difference between Punishment and Discipline?

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I have two strong willed children. They really put me through my paces, each in a very different way. As a young mom I tended to react to everything they did. I found myself repeating the parenting methods I grew up with even though I resented my parents for parenting me that way. One day my 3 yr old got very mouthy with me. As I corrected him he pulled away from me thinking I was going to spank him. I realized my beautiful child’s trust in me had been replaced with fear and I was crushed.

I had a problem; I had no idea what else to do to correct behavior. I searched and searched knowing there had to be another way. Then I found the type of discipline that felt true to me, a method that corrected behavior yet still allowed me to be loving and respectful. I found out how to discipline, not punish and that made a world of difference.

Did this new discipline change all things about my kids’ overnight? Heavens no. But it did replace their fear of me with trust again. They still went through all the same things that all kids go through, potty mouth, sibling issues, lying, being wild with friends, being consumed by video games, bad grades-good grades and everything else under the sun.

Discipline allowed me to help my kids work through things while standing back and letting them learn for themselves. It was a delicate dance that took time to learn but was completely worth it. I was able to remain calm when they misbehaved. I learned how to respond instead of react and that made a huge difference. I learned setting boundaries wasn’t going to be fun or easy, but it was my job. My kids responded really well to all of it. They wanted the adults to be in charge and set limits so they could be the kids. They didn’t feel diminished or worthless when they were corrected. They came to know that they would always be loved even when they made mistakes and that was invaluable for them and my relationship with them.

Parenting is hard and I encourage all parents to learn what ever they need to empower themselves to be the parent they dreamed of being. It takes strength and courage to be a parent; the job is so much bigger than any of us imagined. But there is nothing better than being close to your child through it all. It’s the best time I’ve ever had and I love them more than words can even say.

Sharon Silver is the founder and director of ProActive Parenting, a site offering downloadable seminars so parents can Stop Reacting & Start Responding while handling everyday toddler & preschooler behavior. Find us on twitter @ proactvparentng & facebook @Sharon.ProActiveParenting.Tips

By: Sharon Silver, the founder and director of ProActive Parenting

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