Guiding Children’s Behaviour

Chapter 3, Section 2:

Guiding Children’s Behaviour

A Natural Parent

One question you were asked last day was to describe a “natural parent”, ie: someone who just seems to naturally know how to be a good parent. The interesting thing about this question in your (older) textbook vs what you’ll find when you look on-line is that a “natural parent” in the google-verse (as opposed to universe) is a parent who leans towards feeding natural foods, choosing “natural” toys (ie: playing outside with leaves/dirt/gardens, playing with wooden toys inside), selecting natural fibres for clothing. There’s quite the difference between the two definitions… we’re not even comparing apples to apples; it’s more like apples to chocolate.

The fact is, there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and so someone can argue that there is no such thing as a “natural parent” as implied by your textbook The Developing Child. All parents are influenced by their own experiences. Perhaps they were parented in a way that they’d like to replicate with their own children. Maybe they disagree with many of the choices their parents made and want to do differently.

There may have been a relative, other than their mom/dad, who is the greatest influence on their parenting. Perhaps they read a lot, asking a lot of questions, have worked with other people’s children and these experiences are what influence their parenting. Regardless, the pressure to be a good parent is strong, and we should realize that we’re all influenced by different factors. There is no one right way to parent, and we’ll all make some mistakes. As a well-known parenting program knows, and has named itself, “Nobody’s Perfect”. And that’s okay too.

Discipline vs Punishment

Discipline is what occurs before the behaviour. Discipline is all about teaching expectations, how-tos, the steps, and follow through. Discipline is a teaching and learning process. It should be positive, and respectful of the child. The goal of discipline is to help the child learn what is expected (and those expectations should be age appropriate and reasonable) with the goal of avoiding punishment.

Punishment is what occurs after the behaviour. Punishment can be very negative, or (theoretically) it can be considerate. You can find articles on how “bad” punishment is, just as you can find articles on how “effective” punishment is. Regardless of one’s point of view, punishment should not be abusive.

These three photos illustrate how different people’s definition of “punishment” can be. Some people will disagree that they are all ‘punishment’, others will completely agree.

What do you think?


(Image 1:

punishment 2

(Image 2:

punishment 3

Image 3:

Please keep in mind that there is a lot of debate about what exactly punishment is and parents greatly differ on its definition (some parents may read the definition above and scream “NO! NO! NO! What is she saying?!”).

We could spend an entire term on discipline vs punishment, but we just don’t have the time, so we’re going to avoid that debate and stick with the most simple: punishment is what occurs after the behaviour. Our goal is to discipline (teach) instead of punish.

Assignment: The Developing Child, Chapter 3-2

Check Your Understanding # 1 – 7

Discuss & Discover: select one of the two.


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