How to Discipline with Authority without Being Punitive

The keys to the success of using authority without being punitive are in using positive communications, empowerment of choice, and reflection. These practices instill the mindset that the objective is to raise responsibility, rather than to punish.

Punishment fosters evasion of responsibility and also has the disadvantage of increasing the distance between parents and children. A far more effective approach than punishment is to treat the situation as a teaching and learning opportunity.

Elicit from the youngster what the youngster can do to ensure that the situation will not be repeated. In this way, the young person creates and maintains ownership. The implicit message is that a person is responsible for his actions and that inappropriate action is being remedied. This approach uses irresponsible behavior as an opportunity for growth.

If an elicited consequence is not appropriate or acceptable, “What else?” is asked until there is agreement on the consequence. Any consequence should fulfill three requirements:

1. The consequence should be related to the incident.

2. The consequence should be reasonable.

3. The consequence should promote growth.