What Is Wrong With Punishment?

As parents, we want nothing more than for our children to “do the right thing and act the right way.” The norm for most of society is to fall into “punishment” mode. Parents feel that in order for their children to learn something they have to be punished for it instead of being taught the tools needed to navigate through life and to also let them experience a “natural” not parent driven consequence. Research has shown that kids are more apt to “do the right thing” if they are NOT punished. The reason behind this? Children who do experience punishment have the following traits that truly go against what we really want for all of our children. Punishment will get your child to do what you want right then but what about the long term repercussions?

o    Your child will learn that in order to avoid punishment they need to lie and sneak so they do not “get into trouble.”

o    Children become concerned about “not getting punished” instead of having the capability to decide what the “right” thing to do is on their own.

o    They are generally angrier, frightened, sad, and less able to control their emotions.

o    When they are parented in a way that is “fear based” they also learn to be fearful of others. They can be victims of bullying OR they can be the one bullying and they learn that force is the only way to get things accomplished.

o    They miss out on the chance to develop empathy, problem solving skills, and overcoming mistakes in a positive environment so that they can do better next time and LEARN without feeling the shame or fear of punishment.

o    They miss out on the wonderful connection that comes with positive parenting. They want to be able to come to you with anything and if you fly off the handle, send them to their room, threaten punishment or consequences or don’t listen to them that is the very opposite of what they need and what you really want.

So what is a parent to do? Focus on connection before correction. Love unconditionally. Let natural consequences happen. So your child did not pack a lunch? Forgot a jacket? Forgot their homework? All OK. The natural consequence of each of these and many, many more scenarios are enough for them to learn. Truly, it is. Be there for them, setting empathetic limits, teaching them the tools needed to navigate life, and accept them for their loving and learning selves!

May you be one step closer to creating the connection both you and your child need.