Google+ Authentic Parenting: Why Punishment will not make children Behave (rerun)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why Punishment will not make children Behave (rerun)



Parents often say they want their children to behave. Unfortunately, many a parent and so called experts believe that to make a child behave you must punish them. Looking at the word behave though it means: to conduct oneself in a specified way.

As parents, then it follows that if we really want our children to behave we need to help shape and specify what way that is. One could argue that punishing a child is specifying the way. Children should simply follow what we tell them, and punishment will reinforce this. Now if specifying their behavior would be so easy as one command, one punishment, deal done, then for one, we would be grossly overlooking the fact that children are intelligent, capable and complex individuals, not drones that simply need programming.

Secondly, If children could just learn with one simple command, followed by punishment for non compliance, we wouldn’t be researching the inner workings of child development, long term impact of violence and aggression, the role of resilience, communication, attachment and so the list goes on and on… and it would bring to question why is generation after generation turning to parenting books, educators and experts for help to shape our childrens behaviour.

Choosing physical punishment, threats and pain as a means to make children behave might bring a short term sense of accomplishment, but at a big cost. In the grand scheme of things, to punish a child with a spanking, or incessant yelling it is simply demonstrating lack of control, aggression and disrespect. It is showing in essence exactly how society does NOT want them to behave.

Punishment does not teach respect: Punishment can make a child feel disrespected and confused. If we yell at a child and threaten to punish them as a means to get what we want, we cannot expect them to learn how to ask for what they need in a respectful way.

Aggression begets aggression: When we hit , strike, smack, swat a child we are showing them exactly how to use physical aggression to get their way. The shock value might temporarily work for some, yet have you ever seen a parent smack a childs hand and tell them “don’t hit your friend” and not too much later they hit again?

Punishment does not teach self-control: When a parent loses it on a child, yelling, hitting, spanking, yanking at it, they are not modeling how to effectively overcome stressful emotions. As stressful situations and highly charged emotions are pretty much a given in this parenting gig modeling is key. From toddlers to teens alike, making a child "shut up" their emotions by isolating them or hurting them will not help them overcome, process or learn. Watching us on the other hand, will.

Keeping cool, choosing words over confrontation, seeking alternatives over punishment, peace over violence: it can be difficult, it can take a lot of practice, it is a process. But that’s just it, parenting just like growing up and learning to behave, is a process.

What are you doing to model the behavior you wish to see in your child?

Next week on positive parenting connection I will be exploring the question: "If not punishment, then what?"




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13 comments:

  1. i will be counting moments till your next post. this post came at the right time! my 2 going 3 year old is almost driving me nuts with her stubborn-ness and persistence. i am on the verge of using punishment.

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  2. I just love, love, love the *Love and Logic Approach* in parenting and teaching children. The approach is fabulous for all ages. I went to a conference on it and own a couple of the books. It is a-w-e-s-o-m-e. =]

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  3. I think this article is making far to general a statement about punishment. Not every punishment is a spanking or involves shouting. Loss of privilege or a time-out can be effective without being traumatic. And yes children are complex and intelligent, but at a young age they don't ask themselves what their parents would do when someone makes them angry, or when a ball bounces into the road, or when they are curious about the stranger offering them candy. These lessons, or boundaries are there for children's safety, as a parent, I will punish my daughter for endangering herself, for hurting others, and I will do it in a way that she remembers and without violence. But she will remember, and she will be safer. Modeling behavior is an excellent practice, but parents are not the only people they are watching, consequences bring a second thought and that might be enough to avoid a bad decision.

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  4. I think this has been one of the biggest mind trips I've had to take, and I still find it hard to explain to others why I don't believe in punishment anymore. It makes perfect sense to me now, for all the reasons you outline so clearly here, but punishment is so ingrained culturally as the only way to raise children.

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  5. Thanks for the reminder! We cannot advocate enough...Something to constantly work on as a parent!

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  6. Annonymous_boundaries and limits are absolutely nescessary yet, they can be set without punishment. Punishment means to do something with the intent to harm, hurt or retribution. it´s something you inflict on someone. I understand the fear of children speaking to a stranger or running after a ball, but if my child endangers himself i will show him respect, love and care so that he will know why i want him to listen and understand. thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Lauren- you are so right, it is totally ingrained, tit for tat mentality...kindness from strangers sometimes feels like a miracle because it´s sadly so rare.

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  7. I loved your post! Please go to the link below and sign up for the giveaway for my parenting book.


    http://www.oldschoolnewschoolmom.com/2012/04/parents-guide-to-creating-wonderful.html

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  8. I absolutely agree. I learned about the fallout of punishment as a animal trainer, long before I became a mother. Punishment doesn't make animals behave either. It leads to fear, distrust, and aggression; same as with kids. If I can get my dog or horse to behave the way I want without resorting to punishment, then why would I have to punish my children. They are certainly more intelligent and capable of understanding my requests. You don't see trainers at SeaWorld spanking the dolphins, shouldn't humans be treated with more respect?

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    1. I actually have an article stating exactly what you say here! here it is: http://www.authenticparenting.info/2010/02/doggy-training.html

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  9. Seriously? Oh, I COMPLETELY disagree! Kids know EXACTLY why they are being punished. They aren't idiots! Time outs and that happy parenting crap does NOT work in our house and why would it? I'd push my luck, too, if all I had to do was sit in my room or a corner or wherever for X minutes. Big deal! But a swat on the butt (and I'm not talking BEATINGS, so chill out) would have me rethinking NUMEROUS times before I did something I knew better not to.

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  10. Totally agree anonymous we got smacked as kids and that didnt traumatise or crap like that i think kids are getting away with way too much nowadays and they know it.ask our grandparents and they will tell you a smack was all they got and got on wit it.i smack my daughter and she knows i love her.each parents knows their child and they should b allowed to discipline their kids the way they see fit after all they have tondeal with no one else.

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    1. @anonymous: I think you must keep in mind that your child is a person, not an object. Do you think your husband can discipline you as he sees fit?

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