Discipline and Emotions

Why do you think young people misbehave? When I ask people this question, most say that it’s because the youth don’t know any better, have had poor role models in life, or just because—no reason at all.

The fact is that young people misbehave because it makes them feel good; otherwise, they would not misbehave. People (including youth) don’t voluntarily do things that feel bad.

This is why it’s important to remember that in discipline, persuasion, and influence, emotion takes precedence over cognition. Connect to the youth’s emotion to make discipline effective.

Punishment prompts bad feelings and, therefore, is counterproductive to changing irresponsible behavior in any lasting way.

A more effective approach is to help the young person find a response that will engender better feelings than the feeling that comes with the misbehavior or the imposed punishment.