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New Year's Resolution for Parents: Discipline, Not Punishment

December 31, 2013- Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG - It isn't among the usual New Year's resolutions, such as quitting smoking or losing weight, but according to one expert, a goal for 2014 of parenting through discipline instead of punishment can have life-long positive effects. Ingrid Bauer, a mother of four and an expert on communication within families, said there's a big difference between punishment - such as spankings or time-outs, that may just teach kids not to get caught next time - and discipline, which can teach values and bring parent and child closer.

"Working with a child in partnership, you gain their trust, and the motivation for them to behave in ways that you hope that they will, and that will benefit them, comes from inside them; whereas punishment, it's all motivated primarily through fear of something external, rather than being connected to why they're doing something," she explained.

Bauer said that better than meting out punishment when a child misbehaves is to talk with the child, try to understand why the kid acted out, and then work together to change the behavior.

She said using a discipline-based approach also works because, at the same time children are given expectations, they also learn that their needs matter as well.

That means "having their parents really validate what's important to them and knowing that they're going to be considered, as well as their parents also telling them what's important to them and what they'd like," Bauer said. "And my experience is that over time, when you build that relationship of trust naturally, if you let that flow of love happen, they want to contribute. It makes them feel good."

Bauer leads workshops around the country on what she calls "compassionate parenting," and is certified by the Center for Nonviolent Communication.

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