(taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discipline and modifed with certain reduction)
In its most general sense, discipline refers to systematic instruction given to a disciple. To discipline thus means to instruct a person to follow a particular code of conduct “order.” Usually, the phrase ‘to discipline’ carries a negative connotation. This is because enforcement of order – that is, ensuring instructions are carried out – is often regulated through punishment.
“Discipline is the instant willingness and obedience to all orders, respect for authority, self reliance and teamwork. The ability to do the right thing even when no one is watching or suffer the consequences of guilt which produces pain in our bodies, through pain comes discipline.” –United States Marine Corps
To discipline thus means to instruct a person to follow a particular code of conduct or “order.” In the field of child development, discipline refers to methods of modeling character and of teaching self-control and acceptable behavior” (e.g teaching a child to wash her/his hands before meals). Here, ‘washing hands before meals’ is a particular pattern of behaviour, and the child is being disciplined to adopt that pattern. ‘To disciple’ also gives rise to the word disciplinarian, which denotes a person who enforces order.
However usually, the phrase ‘to discipline’ carries a negative connotation. This is because enforcement of order – that is, ensuring instructions are carried out – is often regulated through punishment.
To be disciplined is then, subject to context, either a virtue (the ability to follow instructions well) or a euphemism for punishment (which may also be referred to as disciplinary procedure). As a concrete noun, the discipline refers to an instrument of punishment, for example in mortification of the flesh (see also: flagellation). Such an instrument may also be applied to oneself, for example in penitence for not being sufficiently self-disciplined.
Self-discipline refers to the training that one gives one’s self to accomplish a certain task or to adopt a particular pattern of behaviour, even though one would really rather be doing something else. For example, denying oneself of an extravagant pleasure in order to accomplish a more demanding charitable deed.
Thus, self-discipline is the assertion of willpower over more base desires, and is usually understood to be a synonym of ‘self control’. Self-discipline is to some extent a substitute for motivation, when one uses reason to determine a best course of action that opposes one’s desires. Virtuous behaviour is when one’s motivations are aligned with one’s reasoned aims: to do what you know is best and to do it genuinely gladly. Continent behaviour, on the other hand, is when one does what one knows is best, but must do it by opposing one’s motivations. Moving from continent to virtuous behaviour requires training and some self discipline.
Methods of discipline are social standards on who, when, why, and how people are disciplined. Typically, it is not socially acceptable for anyone other than the parents to spank a child. Depending on state law, it may or may not be acceptable to execute a prisoner guilty of murder. Standards change depending on the environment.
Home: Common practices are time-out, grounding, restricting, and spanking. School: Common practices are detention, in school suspension, and out of school suspension. Society: Common practices are citations, jail time, and execution. These practices are punishments for undesirable behavior, whose effectiveness has been disputed. Positive reinforcement, as opposed to punishment, has been found to promote desired behaviors without unwanted side effects.
Positive reinforcement is about preventing misbehavior by praising the desirable behavior. People tend to function better under these circumstances. Humans, in general, want to know that they are doing a good job. People work diligently to gain bonuses, promotions, good grades, and scholarships. It is important to praise children when they do the right thing because they will be more likely to repeat it in the future.