National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Discipline Timeline

Family Matters: Childrearing

BY Dr. Ray Guarendi

November 4-17, 2012 Issue | Posted 10/30/12 at 11:43 AM


I think I’m pretty consistent in disciplining my 8-year-old son, yet he still gets into trouble for the same things over and over again. Why does it seem to take so long for discipline to work?

Kids repel discipline. At the time it is happening — the moment of experiencing repercussions of his behavior — discipline is not something a child wants.

In their away-from-discipline moments, kids may acknowledge the need for discipline, even be slightly grateful here and there. But right as it’s happening, they’ll do what they can to avoid or escape it.

Should that surprise us? Children don’t understand the purpose of most parenting.

If your son agreed with your discipline, if he learned quickly, would he really need a parent? And as much as we grown-ups talk about the importance of owning up to our actions, we don’t like discipline either. We, too, will often do whatever we can to avoid it.

It is the nature of being, young or old, to avoid unpleasant consequences and thus to learn things the long way.

To reduce your frustration level a notch or two, consider this: When we say that discipline is not working, what we’re often really saying is that things aren’t improving fast enough.

If you redefine "work" to mean "teach a lesson," then your discipline works.


Dr. Ray Guarendi is a

clinical psychologist, speaker, author and EWTN TV host.