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Opinions & Essays - Oct, 1994 Issue #30 


(The following appeared recently in the Coeur d'Alene Press, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, written by Kathy Wallenhaupt, the Kootenai County home economist with the University of Idaho's Cooperative Extension Service.) 

There is a difference between punishment and discipline. Discipline takes into consideration the beauty of each person. Discipline shows the individual what they have done wrong. It gives them ownership of the problem. It gives them ways to solve the problems they have created. 

It leaves the dignity intact. When individuals experience logical and realistic consequences, they learn they have positive power in their lives. They can make good decisions and solve problems. 

Punishment, on the other hand, is adult-oriented, requires judgment, imposes power from without and invites conflict, anger and resentment. 

Parents need to be there to listen, support and offer options, not to judge. When disciplining a child, give them a second chance when they blow it. 

Make them responsible. Give them chores and household duties. 

Tell them a consequence that is logical, realistic and palatable to you. Then when they miss the mark, give them the opportunity to do the first responsibility again AFTER they have experienced the consequences for blowing it the first time. 

Barbara Coloroso, nationally acclaimed speaker of "Kids Are Worth It" has prepared some advice to parents. According to her, there are six critical life messages. 

  1. I believe in you.
  2. I trust in you.
  3. I know you can handle it.
  4. You are listened to.
  5. You are cared for.
  6. You are very important to me. 

The best way people learn these critical messages is in a family setting. School, church and friends can supplement the messages, but they need to be repeated on at least a daily basis. 

Copyright 1994, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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