Positive vs. Negative Correction


By Dr. Scott Turansky, National Center for Biblical Parenting

Have you ever thought about the difference between punishment and discipline? There’s really quite a difference. Punishment gives a negative consequence, but discipline means to teach. Punishment is negative; discipline is positive. Punishment focuses on past misdeeds. Discipline focuses on future good deeds. Punishment is often motivated by anger. Discipline is motivated by love. Punishment focuses on justice to balance the scales. Discipline focuses on teaching, to prepare for next time.

The child who teases relentlessly, the child who whines for a snack, and the child who bickers with others all have one thing in common: a need to change patterns of behavior and a need to change the heart. Some teachers/parents only use punishment or anger to motivate their children to act differently. This attitude says, “If I just point out the problem enough times, he’ll eventually change.”

What these kids really need is firm correction with a positive focus. Be sure to tell your children what they should do in place of the unwanted behavior. Teach them right responses to replace the negative ones. Have them practice doing the right thing before they are free to go. It takes more work to discipline instead of punishment, but the rewards are certainly worth it. Children grow and develop new patterns of healthy responses.


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