Chapter 6: When punishment has to be used

Consequences are what happen as a result of behaviour. Punishment is an imposed action that helps the child learn appropriate behaviour. Punishment is the giving of an incentive to change behaviour.

Hitting a child is ineffective in the long run and has nothing to do with discipline.

Emphasis should be placed on developing management strategies based on sound developmental principles and an awareness of a child’s individuality. This does not mean punishment is totally eliminated. Punishments for harmful behaviour may still be required, even if the behaviour is the result of a child’s difficult temperament; for example, impulsively hitting a younger sibling. The goal is to think ahead and plan for the possibility of inappropriate behaviour due to difficult temperament. Intervening early with a management strategy may eliminate the need to punish the child later.

We do not shrink from using the word punishment. If children do the wrong thing, particularly when it seriously impacts others, they need to be taught how to behave appropriately. Punishment is the giving of an incentive to change behaviour. While the preferred option is always to use positive creative strategies to discipline children, sometimes punishments are necessary. As long as punishments are used as part of a family’s clearly explained strategies and are not overused or abusive, they will help produce more competent children.

Remember : always apply the punishment to teach the child rather than overload the child with your feelings.

When children experience parents in control, with a clear plan of action, the need for specific rewards or punishments is lessened. The mystery of parenting involves the creation of appropriate balanced boundaries.