Discipline is proactive and aims to instruct. The goal of discipline is to provide guidance and to establish a pattern of behavior. Discipline yields lasting results and helps a child to understand what is and what is not acceptable. Discipline facilitates the internalizing of behavioral standards and helps a child to become intrinsically motivated to make good behavioral choices and to exhibit self-control.
Punishment is reactive and aims to stop or start a behavior. It is a penalty issued for wrongdoing. Punishment yields only short-term results and these results are often rooted in fear based obedience. Punishment facilitates obedience out of a child’s desire to avoid a penalty associated with a behavior and does not lead to the internalizing of behavioral expectations, self-control or intrinsic motivation.
Discipline flows out of love while punishment typically flows out of anger. While the terms are often used interchangeably they really aren’t the same things. While discipline often involves the use of consequences, unlike with punishment the consequences are appropriate, reasonable, predetermined and are designed to be used as a teaching tool.