Does Punishment Work

You’ve asked your child to do something…

They haven’t done what you’ve asked

You start counting, “1…..2……2.5…. ”

Then they ask “What happens when you get to 3?”

Or maybe you’re like many exasperated families who end up in my office telling me, “we’ve taken away everything and they don’t seem to care”.  Maybe it started with no tv time, then no iPads or phones. No playing with friends. I’ve had families cancel birthdays, empty rooms, remove doors- all in some perpetual search for the punishment that will finally matter enough to their child that their child will change their behaviour. 

But these strategies don’t work.

Research (and maybe even your own experience) shows that punishments don’t work. In fact, they make the problem worse (trading short term gain for long term pain).

When you parent from a place of rewards and punishments, you are setting your child up to make decisions based on a desire for a reward and the avoidance of punishment. Wondering what’s wrong with that?  

When parents leverage the power of things instead of the power of relationships, parents are left with nothing left in the toolbox when a child decides they don’t care about the punishment being handed down. 

But it doesn’t stop there. When children and teens believe they will “get away with” something, guess which choice they make? (hint: it’s not the good one).  Instead of making choices based on values and internal motivation, they make them based on the paradigm they’ve been taught- seek reward and avoid punishment.

Try this

Start by making a commitment to stop punishments, particularly when there is no logical connection to the situation. Focus on connection building activities as a way to build the foundation for discipline. 

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