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Discipline - keeping the rules

discipline; safety; consequences; punishment; rules;rewards; school; law ;


What is discipline?

Some people may think that discipline is about punishment. I asked kids what they thought and they came up with all these great ideas.

So, what is discipline?

cat and mouse"Learning the rules and keeping them."

"Looking after yourself and others."

"Doing the right thing."

"Being a good member of society."

"Learning the difference between right and wrong."

"Knowing that if you do something wrong there will be consequences (say con-see-kwen-ses) or punishments and you will deserve them."

"If you’re in the army or something it means following orders."

"Being in charge of yourself."

Together we decided that discipline is about learning and keeping the rules, to keep others and ourselves safe and happy.

There are rules to learn at home, at school and out in the world.

Discipline at home

Your home is the first and most important place in your life. It is also the most dangerous place where most accidents that happen to kids take place.

So the first lot of rules are about your safety.
There are rules about:

  • safety in the kitchen
  • not touching hot things like the fire or the iron
  • not climbing on furniture
  • safety in the shed and the garden
  • safety in the car.

The people who look after you care about your health so there are rules to learn like:

  • washing hands before eating food and after going to the toilet
  • tidying up your toys so that people don’t fall over them
  • covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • washing all over every day.

There are lots of people in the world, so you need to learn how to get along with others. Some rules might be about:

  • learning disciplinesharing
  • doing chores
  • looking after your room and your things
  • not fighting
  • how to speak nicely to others
  • good manners - saying please and thank you
  • looking after your things and showing respect for other people’s things.

Learning the rules can also mean learning about consequences – that is, what happens when you do the wrong thing.

Maybe there will be some kind of punishment like 'time out' in your room, missing out on something you like or not being allowed to visit friends after school.

learning disciplineSome mums, dads or carers give the same punishment for everything (my mum always sent me to my room, but she didn’t realise that I liked being there so that I could read in peace!) 

Learning to put right what is wrong (if you can) is a good way to make yourself and others feel better, eg. it may be an idea to negotiate something like saving up to buy a new window that you broke, or giving your toy to the person whose toy you broke. That way you will learn how to be more responsible a lot faster and that will be good for you and the rest of the family.

Our topic 'I'm sorry' may have some good tips for you to help yourself and others feel better.

Can you think of some things you could do to make things better for someone?

Discipline at school

When you are at school the teachers are ‘in loco parentis’ which is a fancy way of saying that they have to look after you like your carers at home do.

Of course teachers have lots of kids in their classes. That means that all the school rules, including classroom rules, which you may help to set up, are there to keep everyone safe, healthy and caring for each other, as well as not damaging their own and other people's feelings or things.

  • There are rules about safety, eg. no running in corridors, not leaving the class without permission.
  • There are rules about health, eg. wearing a hat in the sun, washing hands before eating.
  • There are rules about getting on with others, eg. sharing, listening, being kind.
  • There are rules about looking after property - your own, other people’s and the school's.

self disciplineAs you get older, you will know the rules and can help younger people understand them. You will learn about self-discipline, where you make good choices and help others to do the same. You'll know and accept the consequences of breaking rules. You will become a person who is in charge of yourself and can be relied upon to do the right thing.

Try this game of concentration - match two of a kind (2 the same)

Click here to play the game

Discipline in the world outside

There are many laws about all kinds of things in the community, but most of these laws are to do with keeping people and property safe, wherever they are. Breaking these laws can lead to people getting hurt in some way.

  • disciplineBreaking the rules of road safety can cause an accident.
  • Breaking the law by stealing or damaging people’s property can get you into trouble with the Police and upset the people whose property was damaged or stolen. All the things you have learned at home and at school about good manners and caring about other's feelings are very important in the outside world too.

Following 'orders'

learning disciplineYou may not be in the army, but there are some times when, wherever you are, you have to follow orders. When an adult who is responsible for your safety tells you to do something to keep you safe. Mum, Dad, teachers, older family and friends, your sports coach, the Police, etc. are all people to listen to in an emergency situation because they are looking after your safety.


self disciplineThe adults in your life can help you learn about discipline and encourage you to become a responsible, happy and caring person.

Self-discipline is when you know what is the right thing to do and you do it without having to be reminded.

You can learn self-discipline by:

  • listening
  • asking for an explanation
  • self disciplineasking for help
  • thinking about the way you do things
  • looking at others who are good role models
  • looking at what happens to people who lack self-discipline
  • being the best that you can be at everything you do
  • practising
  • trying to put things right when you have made a mistake
  • accepting responsibility for yourself
  • not trying to blame others for your actions.

Here are some ways in which you can show self-discipline:

  • "not joining in when people are saying hurtful things to someone" (Kristen)
  • "owning up when you’ve done something wrong" (Mario)
  • self discipline"asking for help if you are getting into trouble" (Di)
  • "handing something in when you find it" (Mia)
  • "sharing with others" (Tanya)
  • "following the rules at school" (Anthony)
  • "keeping up with schoolwork-even homework" (Mark)
  • "not joining in when people are doing something that can get them into trouble" (Ryan)
  • "being proud of your work and doing your best even if people tease you" (Tom)
  • "doing your chores without being asked." (Melanie)

Dr Kate says:

Dr Kate"Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everybody in the world had learned self discipline and knew what was right and wrong? What a safe, healthy, caring world it would be.

You can help to make the world a better place by behaving in a responsible, caring way and encouraging everyone to do the same."

(I discipline myself to exercise three times a week.)

If we keep to the rule
Life is good.
At home or in school,
Do what you should.
If we care about each other,
Treat others like our brother,
Show respect and be kind,
Life is good.
If we don’t keep the rules
Life is bad.
Wherever we are
Afraid and sad
Self discipline’s the way
To change our world today.
If we all do our best
Life is good.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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