Q. What is it with kids’ brains? I’m trying to be a good father and teach them some discipline, but I punish my kids repeatedly for the same thing and nothing helps!

A. Their brains aren’t done yet; they’re incomplete because they’re still developing. Even with an adult brain, how many times have you been told to do something and repeatedly done the opposite? One thing about human beings in general is that brains of almost any age like choices. I’ve found that giving children choices can be a very effective discipline tool and often obviates the need for punishment.

Mark Brandenburg made that point in his book entitled, 25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers. He talked about the importance of using choices when disciplining children. For example: “You may either take your ball outside and throw it or you can play in here without throwing the ball. You decide which choice to make.”

The author also describes the difference between discipline and punishment (e.g., discipline is not punishment). Discipline comes from Latin words meaning “pupil” and “learning.” It involves very positive concepts. It has no connection with whacking somebody on the butt or making them stay in their room) and offers practical suggestions that fit hand-in-glove with what current brain function research is revealing about the brain.