What Discipline Really Is

The following is from my Discipline Without Stress Resource Guide. It gives a good overview of what discipline really is … and what it isn’t. I’d love to hear your thoughts about discipline. Please contribute in the comments below.


What Is Discipline?

“Discipline is understood in a very limited way by most educators—How do we get these children to behave?—rather than How do we support the people in our charge as they learn to channel and direct their positive energy in ways that accomplish their goals and those of their community?” -Dr. Richard E. Clark, Chair Department of Educational Psychology, University of Southern California

“To many people, discipline means punishment. But, actually, to discipline means to teach. Rather than punishment, discipline should be a positive way of helping and guiding children to achieve self-control.” –Discipline: A Parent’s Guide, © 1993 by the National PTA®

Punishment is what is done to a person.

Discipline is what is done with a person.


Other Thoughts Relating to Discipline

“The ultimate use of power should be to empower others. That’s what our constitution is about. What we accomplish by threats and coercion must be maintained by force. What we accomplish by guiding and caring is self-propelling. Real power consists in creating a situation where coercion need not be exercised.” -William Glasser, M.D.

“In all my experiences, I have never seen lasting solutions to problems, lasting happiness and success, that came from the outside in.” -Stephen Covey, Ph.D.


For more on this topic, see the Discipline Without Stress Resource Guide.