Save the Children promotes “positive discipline” and contributes to training sessions for parents on how to support children and young people in their development using positive teaching methods. The difference between punishment and positive discipline is mainly that punishment is a process which focuses on what a child has done wrong, while positive discipline assumes that children want to behave well but need help in understanding how to do so. Punishment is based on the idea that you have to make children suffer to encourage them to understand what they have done and discourage them from doing it again. Positive discipline on the other hand, works on the principle that children learn more through co-operation and rewards than through conflict and punishment. It also builds on the idea that when children feel good, they tend to behave well and when they feel bad they are likely to behave badly.
Physical punishment is often used by people whom children love, who have responsibility for them and who have authority over them. Physical and humiliating punishment is, in fact, an abuse of power. Parents can have authority with their children using positive discipline techniques, or abuse the power they have over their children by using physical and humiliating punishment.
Physical and humiliating punishment may seem easier and quicker than positive discipline methods, but it can damage the child’s development and the relationship between the parent and the child. Positive discipline encourages parents to think about the long-term goals they want to achieve.
Photo: Hedinn Halldorsson/Save the Children
Parents, communities and governments around the world are recognizing children’s rights to protection from physical punishment and to discipline that respects their dignity. Increasingly, parents are being advised to use “positive discipline”. But parents
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