Lucy, The Shining One

Discipline Vs Punishment

As you know, J, S & I are particpants in a BDSM relationship. S is a Dominant, J is a switch (he’s probably 75% Dominant, 25% submissive) and I am a sub. It’s how we met, basically but that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about discipline and punishment as it works in our relationship, and more importantly the difference between them.

Discipline is about correcting behaviour, about guiding and teaching. For putting mistakes right. It’s usually an immediate action – such a light paddling for when I messed up writing out my times tables, followed by writing them out multiple times.
Discipline often involves… well… time-out. Stand in the corner/in a certain position and think about what you’ve done. Writing lines. Repeating the task until it’s done correctly. And often a light paddling as a ‘warning’ of sorts.

Punishment on the other hand is about bad behaviour. It’s a penalty for wrong-doing. The severity of the punishment depends on the method and severity of punishment depends on the bad behavior and if it was intentional or unintentional.
It doesn’t usually happen right away because neither J or S will punish me if they’re angry. And yes, sometimes it does involve a physical form, but it isn’t always. It can be being locked in the cage, not being allowed to sleep in the same bed as J&S, strict bondage, loss of privilege… that kind of thing. But J and S are very creative!
Screwing up while being disciplined? Yeah, that will lead to punishment.

So lets say I’m doing the washing up and J notices that a plate I’ve cleaned still has food on it. Straight away the light paddling, followed by a talking to about taking care and doing it right. I would have to re-do the dishes. Or maybe even all of them, depending on how bad it was.
This is discipline. Redoing something I did wrong to make it right.
Only, when I was redoing it, I made the same mistake again. There could be a physical aspect to the punishment (J likes giving pain as well as receiving!), or there’s restrictions put on the food I’m allowed to eat, or I’m not allowed to use cutlery for example.

The one exception to this is not taking my medication – and this is pre-negotiated. If I don’t take my meds, it’s automatic cause for punishment. Again, there’s a difference between me being distracted and not taking them and not taking them on purpose (The whole ‘I feel ok, I don’t need these’). This is all discussed before punishment is doled out.
This will always be corporal punishment – I’m really not a big fan of pain so as its one of the most severe infractions, it gets the worst-to-me punishment. If that makes sense

S is very keen on the discipline and punishment fitting the crime. For example if I was being punished for excessive use of bad language, yes it would involve my mouth being washed out with soap, or having to hold a bar of soap in my mouth. If I’m fidgeting when I’m supposed to be still, strict bondage or the cage. If I come when I’m not allowed to, no sex. That kind of thing.
Neither S or J (or me) like punishment – so it sucks for them as well. We’ve been known to say that one of the main differences is that discipline can be enjoyed whereas punishment is not.

J is a big fan of positive reinforcement too though, so I get rewarded for good behaviour. Yay, go me! 🙂

Now – J… a corporal punishment from S wouldn’t work for him. He enjoys pain. A severe punishment for him would involve sensory deprivation. Because he hates it.
Me, I love that so that’s not a punishment.

The two really important things to remember:
Once it’s done, it’s done. Forgiven, forgotten (not the lesson but the cause), moved on.

Um. I don’t know if any of this makes sense or makes any of it any clearer, I hope it does.



  1. Thanks for writing this. I find it very interesting. I could never be in this kind of relationship – I hate the idea that I would never be allowed to make a mistake! Probably because I make them all the time. It took me a long time to realise that making mistakes doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person – so to use your dishes example, if I don’t clean all the food off a plate I’m not too stupid to wash dishes properly, can’t be trusted to do something as simple as wash a dish, etc. I just made a mistake. Also, I think I would have trouble drawing the line between discipline and punishment – like being made to do all the dishes again sounds like punishment to me. You made a mistake with ONE dish so now you have to redo all of them. The fact that you did 10 right the first time is irrelevant – that one mistake cancels out the good ones. I know it’s probably not like that, but it’s how it would feel to me. I have problems with self-esteem though, so I have a tendency to latch on to the one bad thing someone says about me and ignore the rest. I’m working on it 🙂

    Sorry for the mini essay of a comment!


    • I find it focuses me,makes me pay much better attention to what I’m doing – because I know the potential consequences and don’t want to pay the price, so I pay more attention


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