Discipline vs. Punishment
Our problem is, while we want to refrain from any violent or loud reaction, eventually, the emotion has been suppressed for so long, it erupts like a volcano, and displaces our logic. Rational leaders become irrational as they react to repeated problem behavior.
It is punitive, not redemptive in nature.
It’s been said a million times, but let me remind you of an important distinction:
Punishment: Looks backward and penalizes a student for misconduct.
Discipline: Looks forward and attempts to correct a student’s misconduct.
The key to leading during problem behavior in students is to look forward not backward. We must establish boundaries up front and enforce equations when those students step out beyond them. There may be no need for high emotion at all. In the same way a police officer remains calm as he issues you a traffic citation, you can simply level the benefits or consequences based on the student’s conduct. It’s an equation both parties understood from the beginning. When you do this up front, your leadership is always looking forward in a redemptive hope, not backward in angry revenge. When leaders do this, they can have firm but gentle conversations, where the student can see that the leader is not merely at the “end of their rope” and erupting. Over time, the student recognizes the equations are real.
In their book Nurture Shock, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman unveil research which shows that spanking kids within white (caucasian) parents has a worse affect than among African-Americans. For whites, the spanking is frequently a last resort, done in high emotion and anger. The parent has told themselves over and over they won’t spank their child, until finally, they give up and react. It’s not pretty and has negative ramifications, just as the study points out above. More often in minority families, the spanking was done as a routine part of discipline for a young child. The child never questions the parent’s care for them. This has less to do with whether spanking is right or wrong-it has to do with the leader’s self-control.