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Using Penalty & Punishment in Discipline
( Question 2 )
Dec 1996 Alan S.L. Wong

Using Penalty and Punishment in Discipline: Question 2

Should we punish a child who knows he is in the wrong and apologises?

My Response Some argue that to punish is to wipe away his guilt in that the child may think that he has paid the price for his wrongdoing. I would agree if we had not spelt out the consequences earlier. Since the child already feels guilty, I would simply share how he can make restitution.

However, if we had earlier spelt out "the punishment" as the consequences of the wrongdoing then I say, "Yes, we should punish." The child knew the consequences and he had chosen to disobey. Now, he has to learn to live with the consequences of his decision. Moreover, the child may apologise hoping to escape punishment!

There have been times when I withheld punishment to communicate the meaning of "mercy" ... God not giving us what we deserve.