PUNISHMENT IS NOT A DIRTY WORD
This article raises the old question, punish or reward? Although about an adult, the question the article raises has troubled parents for centuries. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” was overthrown by the parenting gurus of the sixties, but punishment is a tool every loving parent needs. First the article than a few words about punishment, and a link to more words.
In many places punishment is a dirty word, what it really means is pain following behavior. The hope being the punished behavior will be stop. Our culture shifted away from punishment as a child rearing device during the late fifties and sixties. Two mistakes were made. The first? Not realizing punishments can be subtle–a parent’s frown or failure to praise can cause pain, particularly in a child who is over praised or sensitive. All children feel punished.
The second? Making non-abusive parental behavior into abusive behaviors. Spanking is the prime example. I am not an advocate of spanking, it definitely has its dangers–used constantly it often becomes abusive. Nevertheless, few children escape being spanked at least once or twice. Why? because even the most gentle of parents can let their emotions take control. A child runs into the street as a two or three year old, driven by their fears most parents swat the child.
A slap or spanking is also likely to occur when a when a toddler physically and unexpectedly hurts a parent. Our oldest son got such a slap when he suddenly bit his father on the cheek. A new playmate was a biter and our son was experimenting. David was caught off guard and slapped. David was unhappy about his behavior, but our son never bit again; punishment worked.
The parents of the child who bit my son did not believe in punishment. They were concerned that we might embarrass their son by condemning his biting. The damage the boy was doing to his friends did not seem to be on their radar. We did not stay friends and watched from afar as the child grew into a bully. Proper punishment is part of loving parenting.
Proper punishment involves the following:
- Having reasonable rules and clear values
- Knowing the right punishment in terms of you child’s age and stage
- Rewarding the child for behaving more than punishing
- Repairing the relationship–assuring the child she or he is a good child and loved–after punishment
For more on punishment go to my Parenting Page and scroll to the section called My Approach. It expands on the ideas here. You can also Email or phone me for a consultation. For more information about how to do that Visit EFTI’s Coaching and Products Web page. Stay strong and help your children grow strong.