Did you know that the root of the word “discipline” has nothing to do with punishment? We often think of discipline as punishment, as a way to correct our kids’ misdeeds. Such discipline isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We parents just need to understand that there’s much more to discipline than punishment.
The Ezzos explain it this way:
“Today, we define discipline as punishment. But discipline in its truest sense refers to one thing: training. Heart training. … The word discipline comes from the same Latin root (discipulus) as ‘disciple’ — one who is a learner. Parents are the teachers, children are the disciples,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 114).
As we correct our children, we must ensure that teaching is our goal. If the child doesn’t learn from his mistakes, you will be correcting for the same misdeeds over and over. And more than correcting specific behaviors, we need to make sure our kids understand the effects that their behaviors have on others.
“Discipline — heart training — is best accomplished by parenting from the first principle. Values-based discipline urges children to treat other people the way they want to be treated. Neither child-centered nor authoritarian parenting styles emphasize personal responsibility, inner growth, self-control, and other virtues the way first principle parenting does. We have found that if parents shape their child’s heart and character, they will not have to concentrate as much on reshaping the child’s outward behavior,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 115).
Recently, I’ve been teaching my kids that making somebody wait is rude. It’s another way that they are showing disrespect for others. This usually comes up when we’re getting into the car. William will have his nose in his book and take his sweet time buckling his carseat. Lucas, will sit in his seat and will immediately reach for a book or toy, which usually gets in the way as we attempt to buckle him up.
In the past, I’ve simply said “hurry up” or “put the book down.” But it’s never been a big enough issue for me to deal with it head on. That is, until I recently realized that they are making me wait and that it’s simply rude.
So as you discipline your children (through a timeout or a benign verbal correction), keep heart training in mind. Explain to them why you are correcting them and be sure to emphasize the morals that stand behind your correction.