Because it can be difficult for adults to see alternative ways of bringing up children and youth, especially in contexts where physical and humiliating punishment is a social norm, Save the Children promotes “positive discipline”. We contribute to training sessions 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. It 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 assumes that children want to behave well, but need help in understanding how to do so. It 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 does sometimes secure immediate compliance from children, but this easy solution for parents and teachers is not to their long-term advantage. It may be 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: Interview with Dr. Joan E. Durrant
A Time for Change: Ending all forms of corporal punishment of children (short version - find the full version here)
Talk, Understand, Care: Discipline Without Violence