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Discipline vs Abuse- Do Bullies Learn to Bully at Home?

Hello from beautiful Montana:

As caring adults we know that child abuse occurs too often and with disastrous, even deadly results.

That children need discipline, guidance and boundaries is very clear.  However, many parents, frightened of repeating their own parent’s mistakes, have given up being responsible teachers to their family and don’t know what to do next.  They are so afraid to make mistakes they take no stand at all on their children and behaviors and  attitudes.  They hope that their children will learn to be respectful, kind and tolerant on their own. So when a child does need discipline and guidance the parents over react with anger. This teaches the child that the bigger  or smarter you are the more you can bully others.

Discipline Comes From Disciple

A disciple is a teacher, leader and advocate.  Discipline is an important tool for helping children learn.  It really should not come from anger and involve revenge, threats or aggression.  This adult behavior can often be called physical or emotional abuse.  Many parents only think of discipline when they are angry and frustrated and so fall back into old patterns of their childhood.

Imbalance of Power

Discipline helps child grow intellectually and emotionally. It enhances self-confidence and self-image.

Remember there is an imbalance of power in your relationship with your child and he will model your behavior in other relationships.  You are much stronger, larger, smarter and articulate.  You make the rules and you are in charge.  You have the power to impose any punishment or restriction that you decide and the child has no direct recourse.

When you are angry, you are more likely to make rash, extreme and inappropriate decisions.  You are more likely to make threats and use violence.  It is this imbalance of power that makes it easy for bullies to bully others.  When you are mad and the “enemy or victim” is smaller, weaker and more vulnerable than you, it is too easy to hit, squeeze, push or physically assault the child.

If your body is surging with adrenalin, your judgment and good sense is impaired.  You are more apt to make a snap decision that you will regret later.  Your response is likely to be more dangerous- both physically and emotionally. Both you and your child deserve better.

Model Firm and Kind Discipline

When children behave inappropriately, it is probably because they have not yet learned a rule of respecting others boundaries and possessions. Perhaps they did not know a more appropriate way to deal with an experience.

Your job as parents and caregivers is to model assertive behavior, which respects each person’s right to their feelings.  When you show your children respect and kindness, they will show others the same courtesy.  If you need assistance in setting boundaries with kind discipline rather than punishment or abuse, please go to

You will be glad you did.

Judy H. Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship author and speaker

PS:  Please go to Artichoke Press and  sign up today for tele-classes, radio broadcasts and articles that will enhance your family life.

Article written by

Judy is a parent educator, family coach, and personal historian who has written more than 20 books, hundreds of articles and speaks internationally on family issues, including care giving. Trained as a ready to learn consultant, she works with Head Start organizations and child care resource centers.

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