Defining Discipline

I guess this is what it’s all about really isn’t it? Though based on all the experts I’ve read over the years I’d say discipline means different things to different people.

But what does it mean to Dr Spock?


Though punishment is a part of discipline…the true goal [is] to teach children the rules of behaviour-how and why to behave

Dr Spock takes a fairly flexible approach saying it’s important to understand why your child might be behaving the way he/she is and to make allowances for age, circumstance etc.

In Practice

Breakfast time is always a bit of a battlefield in our house- we’re normally running late, the kids are messing about rather than eating and the dog’s lurking waiting to grab what she can- if ever there was a situation needing strong discipline it’s this.

Here’s how it went this morning:

Harry take your hand out of the peanut butter jar, please.
Look, you’ve got lots of toast left on your plate. Could you come and sit back down at the
table? No, I didn’t say climb on the table; I said sit at the table.

I’m exasperated and ready to lose it. Stay calm I think, lay down the rules.

Harry, we need to eat quickly so we’re not late for school– I say

Harry looks at me and throws a square of toast on the floor for the dog. Ben laughs. Harry grins, delighted he has an audience to play for.

I need to be calm and reasonable but also FIRM.

Harry, it’s not OK for you to feed your breakfast to the dog, if you do there’ll be none left for you– I say.

I’m about to tell him again that we’ll be caught in all the traffic if we don’t get a move on when I’m struck by a flash of Spock inspiration. Harry doesn’t care about being late for school or traffic jams, that’s what I care about.

Think’, I say to myself, ‘what does Harry care about?’

Harry I say switching on the oven timer, if you finish your breakfast before the timer beeps you can have an extra five minutes play time before we have to go!

Harry stuffs three squares of toast into his mouth at once- SUCCESS!!!!! (though maybe I should work on table manners in my next post!)


2 thoughts on “Defining Discipline

  1. result, i love this concept, never considered that my son has no interest in my needs/priorities because my daughter so clearly does. will definitely try this next time

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