The Political India
Special Issue

Rules for Effective Use of Punishment

Dr. Mona Choudhary December 1, 2018

Replace punishment with consequences: Punishment puts the onus on the one meting it out while the kid feels like a victim. Consequences puts the onus on the kid and the behavior which has resulted in punishment oops I mean consequences.

Criticism is a form of punishment:  Children thrive by approval. Be cautious of the words used when interacting with a child. Words may make or break their confidence and their faith in themselves.Only persons of strong will power can turn negative judgment of them to good account. Children are still developing will power. Brain and impulse control keeps developing even in the 20’s. Thus expecting that a good reprimand will motivate the child to exert greater will power to perform better is expecting too much from them.

Listen mindfully: Many a time unacceptable behavior is simply their way of displacing their anger or showing their discomfort. It doesn’t mean that they don’t face the consequences. What listening does is makes the child more receiving of the consequences rather than feeling punished unjustly. Also we need to teach our children from a very early age to communicate their discomfort and anger in more constructive and agreeable ways.

Avoid Labeling the Child: Make the action the star, not the child. Saying to a child “Bad boy” or “Don’t be a bad girl” is to make them feel bad as a person. That diminishes their motivation to change their behavior. Once it sets in their mind that they are essentially bad getting them to “behave” becomes more difficult. Children with Low Self- Esteem are more likely to suffer with anxiety and depression in adulthood. Reinforcing that child as a person is innately good; it’s the actions that are either good or bad gives them the opportunity to change their behaviors in future.

Rule setting along with consequences: A very important family activity that most of us don’t undertake. And thus when they don’t act the way they should, the consequences feel like punishment to them. Set the rules for what is unacceptable and the consequences thereof. Children should be part of the rule setting activity so that they understand that they have brought upon the consequences when they act a certain way. Setting rules effectively merits a separate article which will be published shortly. Comments are invited to make the article more contextual.

Follow with the consequences: It will be difficult. Your kid will resist it. It will require an iron hand. But once your kids get it that certain actions will bring forth certain consequences no matter what, they do start falling in line. If followed diligently along with other rules it works. If you don’t follow what you say you are undermining your own importance and losing authority. Also subconsciously kids pick up the message of not giving value to one’s own words which is detrimental in the long run. How many relationships have been sabotaged because we have not kept our words.

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