Discipline and Kids – the Theory

Sometimes you read something in the national news that strikes a nerve, and Madlyn Primoff did that with millions of parents since it goes to the heart of disciplining children.  What is discipline and its purpose?  How can you handle it effectively? 

Disciplining the kids is one of the most vexing issues a parent handles.  Always has been and always will be.  I started notes on this article even before the website came online and wrestled with it until a friend asked if I’d be writing about discipline as it should be or how it actually is.  And that’s a great starting point.

Discipline – In Theory

At it’s heart, the idea of discipline involves teaching and learning.  Discipline’s root word is the latin disciplina just as the latin word for pupil is discupulus.  Christ had his disciples, who referred to him as Rabbi (teacher) as they followed him about.  While the root pertains to learning however, it has become synonymous with punishment and that’s where problems arise.

Why does a child need discipline?

  • To help learn the difference between right and wrong.
  • To help learn the concept of recognizing good and bad behaviors.
  • To help learn that there are consequences to those bad behaviors.
  • To help learn – through lots of repetition – the concept of self-control.
  • To help learn that they live in a world with many others, so they have to harness the egocentrism.

In its most basic form, learning involves communication.  No communication and I guarantee there’ll be no learning.  So communication is key in effective discipline.

That’s lovely theory and there are times when it works.  But it assumes that the base nature of the typical kid allows that.  The unfortunate reality is that your typical child lives in a world of wild egocentrism and natural selfishness, and those attitudes and resulting behaviors don’t usually just yield to talk.

So how about the practical side of discipine?  The fictional Klingon aphorism is that revenge is a dish best served cold.  That’s probably a bad place to put that comment since revenge and discipline cannot be the same thing – ever.  But good discipline should be served with ICE.


Immediate.  Consistent.  Enforceable.

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