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The dilemma of punishment in childhood

Like many other parents, you’ve probably tried to always be empathetic to your child, as we don’t really like punishing our little ones. And to a large extent, you’re right about that. Punishing your child in no way can become the most important element of education. Punishment may be necessary only in some cases but used rationally with the aim of educating the child. It should never be humiliating or detrimental to your self-esteem or well-being.

Rewarding your child when he or she shows good behavior is best in many cases. In the event that punishment is the last option, it is important to consider a number of tips that you can apply in these cases.

Punishment for educational purposes

We want them to learn, and we know on the one hand that we should not allow certain behaviors, but on the other hand, we do not want them to suffer either. When punishing your child, it’s important to make sure you do it at an appropriate dose. Punishment must always have an educational purpose, with which the child can acquire the tools to understand what he did wrong and not do it again.

It is advisable to remain always reasonable. It’s confusing for your child when he’s severely punished, whereas he was only naughty about something that’s not relevant.

Communication is very important in these cases to be able to explain to the child why it is incorrect what he did and what may be the repercussions his actions can have.

Moreover, a penalty must be delivered at the appropriate time. If your child is naughty in the morning, it’s not wise to tell him at night, when he’s tired and loving, that he won’t get dessert because of his behavior that morning. Your child, if he or she is still young, will understand that punishment is the result of his or her behavior.

It’s important to maintain a good relationship with your child. If you hurt him, scare him or punish him too often, that beautiful, strong relationship can deteriorate. There’s a chance your child will just behave worse and feel more and more unhappy.

You should also not punish your child if he already feels it. He already knows he has been naughty, and if you punish him, his repentance can turn into anger and frustration. It is best to be able to tell you what the alternatives to bad behavior are instead of just punishing.

Punishment as a last resort

There are many different ways to punish your child. As I said before, it is never a strong punishment better than a light punishment. In fact, severe punishment can be counterproductive: behavior is suppressed, but the tendency to show that behavior continues to exist.

It is also true that every form of punishment loses power when used too often. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use punishment only in situations where your child breaks a clearly established rule repeatedly and only when other techniques such as chatting and showing him the alternative path to that behavior are not effective.

Punishment is “the quick way” to tackle a problem and its effect on behavior is temporary. It hardly manages to eradicate negative behavior in a lasting way and tends to distance parents and children and humiliate the latter.

Verbal punishments

Sometimes your child needs to be strictly cared for. If you say with a smile after several attempts to draw his attention to the bad behavior: “Don’t do it anymore,” he will mainly see your smile and show the same behavior an hour later. But when you explain to him with a firm, blunt expression that you no longer want to see his behavior, he’ll realize much better than you mean what you’re saying.

Also, when you address your child, it’s better to appeal to his or her common sense than to threaten punishment. For example “I want you to order your toys because people can fall on them” and then “If you don’t order your toys now, I’ll take them to your room.” The point is to explain to you why things are not just orders, which you don’t get to understand why they’re there.

It’s important to try to prevent threats. There’s a chance your child will challenge him to try if you really want to say what you’re saying. Therefore, it is not prudent to threaten without executing these threats. If your child knows you speak firmly in those moments, he or she will listen first.

The punishment of putting him aside in a corner is not the best idea.

It is a technique that focuses on the expulsion or isolation of the child without providing him with any kind of tool to learn how to manage the conflict. A child does not know whether he is not guided and accompanied by an adult and of course, filling him with anger or frustration is not the solution.

It may be positive to pause for a few minutes and then guide you to a reflection on what happened and to try together to find a better way of doing things since it’s not just about telling you what’s not right, but about showing you alternative paths to bad behavior.

To achieve this, the path of dialogue and communication is necessary, the continuous example of parents in the day-to-day and the appropriate demand, always with love.

Reward is better than punishing

Rewarding good behavior works effectively because children learn what is desirable behavior.

Educating requires patience and the work of parents or educators should be directed, whenever possible, to show alternatives and elements that invite reflection, not only on behavior considered inappropriate but also on the consequences it causes on others.

Ten important notes on punishments

1) Punishment and reward

It’s better to reward your son than to punish him. If you reward him when he does something right, you don’t emphasize the negatives of your child, but the positives. This way your child will also gain more confidence. Often you can’t ignore penalties, but if it’s good to apply it whenever possible.

2) Dosing the penalty

Dose the punishment well for your child. Too light or unfilled punishment doesn’t have much effect, and strong punishment makes your child immune to milder long-term punishments and can create insecurity and frustration. Above all, there is to remain reasonable.

3) The right time.

Don’t wait for punishment. If you send your child to bed early at night for something he did in the morning, he doesn’t understand it anymore. Punish him right away, especially if your child is under the age of 6.

4) NEVER raise your hand

Raising your child’s hand is not a solution! You may think it’s working for a while because it’s scary, but it doesn’t solve anything, or even threaten it. Besides, you show your helplessness and that’s something kids feel great about.

5) Don’t scare your child

Be careful not to hurt, frighten, or punish your child too often. You don’t want an unhappy child. That’s why you shouldn’t punish him if his son already regrets it. You’re already aware that you’ve done something wrong. That’s how you punish positively!

6) Don’t threaten

Avoid threats like “put on your shoes now, otherwise you won’t be able to come.” There’s a chance your child will try it to see if you’re really serious.

7) Ignore

As long as your child keeps insisting, sometimes it’s very effective to ignore it for a while. You have to go on because it’s not easy. Especially if it’s small and it’s still hard to explain some things to you, ignoring it when you’re on a whim can be effective. After you spend that moment of frustration talking to him is always advisable, even if it is small and you think that it will not follow you in the conversation, do not stop doing it, it is a beginning for when he grows up, that way he will have the habit of analyzing and reflecting on different situations.

8) Deny him something he likes

As punishment, you can also deny your child certain things. For example, not being able to watch TV or visit a friend. Don’t you want to order your toys? Tell him he can only play with what he wants when the rest of them are cleaned. Always explaining why.

9 Give a waiting time

Is your son upset? give him a break, wait a few minutes, and then talk to him about it again. Children have feelings in full skin and often have a hard time coming to their senses, so giving them a few minutes so they can focus is good for the situation.

10) Your son, your rules.

Your child is different from all other children. You only know how to be able to carry out his education so that he is a good and happy person when he is an adult.

All the information we give you in this article is indicative as each child and each family is different and unique.

Carolina González Ramos

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