Discipline v Punishment

The issue of punishment and discipline of children has been coming up in parenting disputes so I decided to look at the difference/s between the two.

It concerned me when a parent thought it was OK to harshly punish a child, as they had been and there was nothing wrong with them. Not only that, but there was confusion as to what discipline and punishment are or mean.

Are they the same thing? In a word, no.

I went to dictionary.com as that is an easily accessible site for people to use. Below are the definitions of “discipline” and “punishment”.
1.training to act in accordance with rules; drill:military discipline.
2.activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training:A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer.
3.punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
4.the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.:the harsh discipline of poverty.
5.behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control:good discipline in an army.
6.a set or system of rules and regulations.
7.Ecclesiastical. the system of government regulating the practice of a church as distinguished from its doctrine.
verb (used with object), disciplined, disciplining.
10.to train by instruction and exercise; drill.
11.to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.
12.to punish or penalize in order to train and control; correct; chastise.

1.the act of punishing.
2.the fact of being punished, as for an offense or fault.
3.a penalty inflicted for an offense, fault, etc.
4.severe handling or treatment.

The definition of discipline does refer to punishment, but the emphasis is on training and correction. By contrast, punishment has no element of training or correction. It is obvious that whacking a child with a belt several times on the legs for spilling a drink is punishment. It is also clear that to allow a natural consequence to take its course and discuss that with a child is discipline. But there is a fine line in many cases when teaching a child not to do something.

How do we know whether what we are doing is discipline or punishment?
I can think of a few things that would indicate where we are, things such as:
1. am I in control of my emotions and actions? If so then discipline is easier to ensure
2. is what I’m doing proportionate or in line with what the child did?
3. does my response to the child help him/her?
4. does what I’m doing just make the child frightened?
5. what am I teaching my child?
6. how do I want my child to parent his/her own children?
7. discipline can happen any time when there is a teaching opportunity

Always ask yourself these (or any other questions that would work for you) in training your children up in the way you want them to go. I hope this info is helpful!

Parenting Teens Summit starting

Hi all, I thought I would share that the FREE online Parenting Teens Summit is starting. It covers teens and pre-teens and all the way through adolescence which research suggests is anywhere between 11 and 30!

I will be listening in. I hope you do too and get something good out of it. Go to www.parentingteenssummit.com.

See you with the next post!

Child Support

What is child support for? It seems a lot of people don’t know. Let me enlighten you a little – only a little because I don’t know EVERYTHING about it and nor does anybody else!
Where do you start?
One line of enquiry is the legislation – that is, the Child Support (Assessment) Act.

Section 3 says parents have a duty to maintain their children – a no brainer. The assessment process is based on a legislative formula to work out the ‘cost of child/ren’, and allows for the payer of child support (and the payee) to support themselves before their children. The costs of children are set out in tables. In other words, the government tells us how much it costs to raise a child. Child support is calculated on that, not what you actually spend on raising your child/ren.

What then would assessed child support cover? Contribution towards the cost of raising a child, one would think based on what the legislation says. Here is where differences lie though.

Is child support for just food, clothing and shelter or for more such as schooling and sporting activities?
I have been told that people should have to pay child support, then for school and sporting activities and even child care. Some expect the parent paying child support should pay for everything for their child, but that is not what the legislation provides.

In the end, what child support covers depends on the circumstances of a child and his/her parents, and whether there is an agreement for one to pay more child support than the Child Support Agency (CSA) would assess as being payable. Or, whether there is an agreement for payment of some other thing instead of paying child support. Such matters can be easily mediated between parties.

The Child Support Agency’s (CSA’s) website has helpful information. Their website is csa.gov.au. From there you can email or telephone them to discuss your matter.

Communication tools useful for parenting

Communication books are common in Family Law matters where separated parents have trouble talking to each other about how their children are going when they are with each of them.

Parents, even though they are told what communication books are for, can easily become suspicious about what the other might be doing with or to the children, usually over very minor things. Pages are torn out, copied and appended to affidavits for Court, and worse yet, all sorts of abuse is hurled in writing in these books that often travel with the children at changeover. This abuse can be due to all sorts of things, really the subject of another post or many posts? Just breaking up with someone starts a grieving process, which is different for each partner. Anyway, back to the topic.

How can we make communication tools work for the betterment of our children and not having a go at each other? Well, for a start if we can control what we write and focus on what is actually going on for the children that would be great. But if that doesn’t help, there are mobile phone applications (apps) that are available.

I am told some of them are great – there are free ones and some that cost a little. Here’s a list of some that are available:

Kidganizer – provides a central point for communication and keeping info.

Parenting apart – meant to be good for when parents are struggling emotionally and want help with decision making

Our family wizard

2houses – looking at the name alone tells you it’s for co-parenting (that’s another post too!)

custody connection – supposed to be good when you both have busy timetables that can affect how your children

Best of Parenting

Some of these are on the Online Mom website along with articles on parenting related topics. The Raising Children Network website also has some really useful info on it.

You don’t have to be separated to look for this help – parenting is the most important job, one you don’t get paid for but pay to have!

I have not used any of the apps I have listed – this avoids me recommending any over others and getting into trouble. There are LOTS of different apps available and many, many websites providing more info and help than you can read inĀ  a lifetime. I do recommend finding a couple that help you in your parenting journey.

Here’s an idea – if anyone finds some really great websites/apps, please share!

Are you stubborn?

I was asked yesterday what the word “stubborn” means. My response? Not changing your mind, thoughts or view, being ‘stuck’. I also said that tenacity is a positive way of saying stubbornness.

Where is this leading? I’m glad you asked.

Being stubborn can be a good thing, for example being single-minded in a task or purpose, or being tenacious in doing something that is ‘right’. But, being stubborn can turn against you in many, many moments.

Do you hold a firm, unmoving view when discussing how you parent your children? What if you think your child should have an allowance and your partner thinks the child should earn it? This might seem a small thing, but many small things can add up to one very big thing.

When you are having difficulty with a partner/ex partner it is easy for both of you to become stubborn. You might have to try to raise children between you, living separately. Can you both say you want stability for your children when you fight over everything? If you looked back to when things were good you would find that things that bother you now didn’t before.

Truthfully, we can all be stubborn at times. We could all do with looking in the mirror at the person looking back at us, and asking if we are stubborn, perhaps where we can be a little more agreeable or flexible. It may be a case that we need to be more flexible BEFORE we think our partner/ex partner is. Maybe things would work a little better. Remember, the children are the most important and valuable gifts and they NEED us to be less stubborn.

The FDR Process

What is Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)?

FDR is a confidential, cost-effective process to assist people affected by separation or divorce in resolving property (and parenting) issues without needing to go to Court. It is done with the help of an independent, impartial Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP). You and your ex can reach a solution that makes sense to both of you.

It is a practical way of working out problems between couples on issues included in the Family Law Act, such as parenting and property issues. Resolving issues in FDR can be much more time and cost-effective than going to Court, and less damaging for parenting relationships. FDR is a process in which you may be more in control of the outcome. It promotes a more respectful end to a relationship as opposed to an adversarial or conflicted one.

What happens in FDR?


We must first assess your situation to make sure it is suitable for FDR. The assessment is done in separate sessions, called intakes which can be done in person, over the phone or even Skype.


A joint session is then held, at which we help you to work out what your options are and come to tailored solutions that you can agree to.


We can draft agreements reached during FDR. Agreements can be trialled and reviewed so you can always have peace of mind.