Role of Punishment
Punishment is something that comes from an outside source and insists on obedience even as it stresses what a child should not do. Discipline, on the other hand, emphasises what a child should do, and is something that comes (or ought to come) from within the child. Discipline is, most importantly, an ongoing process whose ultimate goal is the complete development of the individual. Punishment, however, is usually a one-time occurrence and it has a short-term goal – that of inculcating obedience or compliance to rules. While discipline places the onus of learning and improving on the child, punishments are forced on the child.
Having made this difference clear, it is a little disconcerting to find that most parents and educators use these two terms interchangeably. Not surprisingly, then, punishments are handed out with clockwork regularity at schools, and inexorably linked with the belief that these will lead to better discipline.
The generic term ‘punishment’ covers a variety of controlling measures. Anna Kurian, mother of two, suggests that the purpose of punishments is, “to make a child remember that something she did was not acceptable to the powers that be! That it caused grief to x or y and hence is not to be repeated. To help along a child in to the socially acceptable conventions/morals of the world.” The most common punishments are therefore physical, where the power of control of the adult is what is