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Inductive Discipline – The Benefits

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Many parents can recount public embarrassing moments during their children’s childhood that caused them no end of shame. What did they do about such situations? Did they discipline their child or simply took action to ‘save face’ allowing the child to get away scot free leading to subsequent repeat performances on the part of the child during the ensuing years?

Children test disciplinary boundaries all the time. In fact, it is a normal part of growing up but it is essential that parents understand how to effectively address such issues. Today we will examine one strategy that can be utilized by parents, Inductive Discipline.

Inductive discipline is a parenting strategy that utilizes reasoning to assist children in understanding the ways in which their actions/behaviours affect others. Parents are encouraged to explain to children why certain behaviours are wrong or even potentially harmful to themselves and/or to others. By elaborating why an action/behaviour is problematic and emphasizing how a wrongdoing can impact the child and others negatively, the parent helps the child to internalize positive messages and come to a reasonable conclusion regarding his/her future actions/behaviours (C. Akai, 2008).

According to inductive logic, many specific examples lead to a general conclusion. During inductive discipline, a parent uses specific instances of a behaviour to illustrate a more general principle of what is right or wrong. The parent then communicates the reasoning process to the child verbally.

For example, Chris was angry with June, his sister, so he bites himself on his arm and tells his mother June bit him. Chris’ Mom examined the bite mark and noticed the indentations left by the teeth are straight—like Chris’ teeth—whereas June’s teeth are crooked. She needs to speak to Chris showing him how he has been caught in a lie that could have caused June to be unfairly punished. He must also understand how his lying has tarnished his future behaviour because now he has ‘bruised the bond of trust’ between his parents, June and himself.

Supporters of inductive discipline believe these methods stimulate positive moral development by assisting children to internalize messages about why specific actions/behaviours are appropriate or inappropriate. Since children learn through repetition, it is believed that hearing messages about the impact of their behaviour on others and themselves, will cause them to adopt and practice positive societal values.

Once children internalize those positive messages, they begin to think automatically about how their actions/behaviours will impact others and themselves even when the parent is not around. It gives credence to the saying ‘discipline is doing the right thing even when the parent is not watching’.