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Is child punishment ever necessary? - Page 3

post #41 of 170
Re: grounding; I don't have teenagers yet, but I read somewhere (I think it was Hold on to Your Kids) that grounding can be used positively. To my understanding, it means that the kid can't go out, which is a great oppotunity for the parent to reconnect with the kid.
post #42 of 170

I really think that "punishment," "discipline," and "consequence" defined differently for everyone.  Someone can say "punishment" but actually mean what most people think to be a consequence.

 

Can anyone truly define the differences for me?  Because I'm feeling a bit lost here. 

 

And maybe it has a lot to do with the fact that I have two extremely strong-willed and spirited children and I have life-impacting anxieties and child abuse PTSD I'm dealing with, but I have used punishments to get a handle on the situation.  Giving my children "choices" or "consequences" only doesn't always work, and I know I'm always working with a limited reservoir of patience and inner calm.  Sometimes punishing my children can ward off something nastier when we get into a battle of the wills.

 

I really do think that most mothers, especially the ones that frequent Mothering, are doing the best they can.  Not everyone can do Unconditional Parenting because they themselves are crawling out of a horror hole.  And that's okay.

post #43 of 170

Mamazee,

 

I just think outside the box when it comes to the choice of words, for starters.  I think kids need to learn consequences of their behavior, good or bad.  I think this is part of teaching them.  If my toddler throws his toy on the floor when he is in his high chair more than once, he doesn't get it back while he is in his high chair.  Some might call it a punishment.  I call it preparing him for the real, cruel world I can't shield him from forever and try to clue him in on as gently and reasonable as possible. 

 

Off-topic::thanks for the hug in the other thread:-) nice.

post #44 of 170

i tried. 

 

i finally thought at 10 its time to punish her.

 

well i did (there was a LOT going on and i was at the end of my tether) and dd completely ignored me. she was unpunishable.

 

after a week i realised it wasnt working.

 

i had to think differently. 

 

so dd and i sat and had a long conversation. and i discovered there was a lot going on for her and punishing her wasnt helping. 

 

we became even more closer. dd is a good kid. i have from babyhood set up boudaries for her and she has mostly always followed them. 

 

but the definition is so arbitrary. a lot of things mentioned in this thread as 'not punishment' ARE punishments in my book. when dd was younger what i needed to read up on was what was age appropriate behaviour. there was no point in punishing her for doing things when it wasnt appropriate for her to learn yet.

 

however i have an only. she and i have always had a very close relationship.

 

for me i find life is so hard for our kids. esp. in our single family where her father struggled to coparent. life was already so hard for dd. i could never add punishment to that list. she got it enough at her dad's and daycare. 

post #45 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazurii View Post

I really think that "punishment," "discipline," and "consequence" defined differently for everyone.  Someone can say "punishment" but actually mean what most people think to be a consequence.

 

Can anyone truly define the differences for me?  Because I'm feeling a bit lost here. 

 

Most of the time, when people talk about "consequences," they really mean punishments, even if they feel there's a difference.  People often use "consequence" to mean "fair, appropriate response to bad behavior" and contrast it with "punishment" which they use to mean "excessive, unfair, or illogical response to bad behavior."  A punishment is just something the child finds unpleasant that you do after a behavior in the hope that it will make the child want to avoid the behavior in the future.  Most of the time, when people describe "logical consequences" they use, they're really talking about punishments.

 

One type of consequence that isn't the same as a deliberate punishment is a natural consequence - something that just naturally happens as a result of a child's behavior that can act like a punishment in making the child less likely to repeat the behavior.  If your kid leaves his toys outside and they get stolen or ruined by rain, that's a natural consequence.  A natural consequence isn't something you make happen; it's something that happens on its own.  Sometimes the line between natural consequences and punishments is a little fuzzy.  If your baby pulls your hair and you yell, "Ow!" and startle him, is that a natural consequence or a punishment?  Maybe it depends on whether or not you feel you could have stopped yourself from yelling if you had wanted to.  If your child won't eat the dinner you cooked, is going hungry a natural consequence?  Probably not, unless you have no other food in the house.  What if you see the child has left his toys out and it's starting to rain, and you don't pick them up or say anything to him about it, because you want him to learn a lesson?  Some people would argue that's really a punishment, but some would disagree. 

 

I think most consequences that are deliberately imposed are really punishments, but there are some exceptions.  I'd say that if you're making the consequence happen because you want the child to learn a lesson from it, then it's a punishment.  If you're making it happen for some other reason, like keeping everyone safe, and you don't care whether or not the child finds it unpleasant, then it might be reasonable to distinguish it from a punishment (though it may end up acting as a punishment to the child.)  For instance, if your child is throwing a heavy toy and you take it away so he doesn't break anything or hurt anyone, you could call that a consequence that isn't a punishment.  I think it's how you feel about it that makes the difference.  If the child doesn't even seem to care that the toy is gone, but simply moves on to playing with something else, is that fine with you, or are you a bit disappointed that he isn't learning a lesson about throwing?  If you're disappointed that he doesn't care, you probably meant it as a punishment.

post #46 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post

 

One type of consequence that isn't the same as a deliberate punishment is a natural consequence - something that just naturally happens as a result of a child's behavior that can act like a punishment in making the child less likely to repeat the behavior.  If your kid leaves his toys outside and they get stolen or ruined by rain, that's a natural consequence.  A natural consequence isn't something you make happen; it's something that happens on its own.  Sometimes the line between natural consequences and punishments is a little fuzzy.  

I would argue that this example is a bit fuzzy, too.  A parent would probably have made a purposeful decision to not go out and collect the toys so they wouldn't get rained on or stolen.  For me, because the parent manipulates a situation, then it ceases to be a simple, natural consequence.  I'd say more appropriately that a child who keeps dropping a teddy bear for the parent to pick up finally drops it off a bridge.  Irretrievable.  That's a natural consequence, unmanipulated by the parent.

post #47 of 170

ETA: conversely, some obvious "natural" consequences are too unbearable to consider-- what parent is going to let their kid run out into the street without looking and let them get hit by a car because they didn't?-- then "natural" consequences aren't always the go-to solution.  Some parental manipulation of the situation is in order, whether it is a loving talk or grounding from playing in the front yard.

 

In the previous example, how the parent handles the situation is key.  Are they saying that the toys"will" get stolen?  Hope not, because if they don't, or if they don't get rained on and ruined, or if the kid just doesn't show any signs of caring, then that takes a really grounded parent to let it go (and to learn not to prophesy outcomes).  I am not the parent that allows bikes to get rusty as a natural consequence of leaving out.  However, I might tell them when it comes time for their next bike that I am considering a budget cap especially because of the poor treatment the bike received.  Or insisting they pay for the new bike themselves?  Is that punishment?  Seems like it could be seen that way.  

post #48 of 170
Thread Starter 
The concept of "unconditional parenting" doesn't involve not having any parental manipulation at all. That's more Taking Children Seriously or something - a parenting philosophy that I find interesting but I also personally find impractical. I don't think keeping your child safe by the street is punishment, in part because I'd try to find a safety solution that my child most liked, whether it be holding hands, a leash, or whatever. With a punishment you're trying to make it feel negative, but in that situation I'd try to have there be as little negative feeling for my child as possible, and I'd be happy if my child were not bothered or unhappy at all by whatever safety measure we found worked best.

And no, taking into consideration whether to, say, get a used or new bike based on how long the last one lasted is just simple economics. I'm sure you could make it feel very punitive if you wanted to, by adding some shame into the mix, like saying, "You were so irresponsible with the last bike that I'm not willing to spend more." But if you're responding to an economic reality and present it as that, I don't think it's fair to consider it a punishment as punishments are intentional, which is why I've specified "intentional punsihment" upthread - to make that aspect of punishment clear.

If your child suffers due to an economic reality, how do you present it? Do you use it in a way to make your child feel bad so they're learn from it? If you intentionally use it in a punitive way to teach, then yeah I'd see it as punitive. But if you try to lessen the blow or come up with alternatives that will make it as good as possible, then I don't see that as punitive.

Punishing assumes that you are intending to teach through the consequence. If the consequence simply exists and you aren't using it to teach, then it isn't a punishment. If you intentionally use it as a teachable moment, then I'd personally consider it a punishment.

I usually find the discussion about "what is a punishment" to be the most interesting part of this whole issue when it comes up at Mothering. I do think it's somewhat subjective.
post #49 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

Punishing assumes that you are intending to teach through the consequence. If the consequence simply exists and you aren't using it to teach, then it isn't a punishment. If you intentionally use it as a teachable moment, then I'd personally consider it a punishment.
 

I preferred the condition that punishment intends to make a child "feel bad".  I don't see anything particularly negative about using a consequence as a teachable moment.  It could be simply that the parent is using the consequence in the sense of connecting "A" to "B", something that children often miss and a parent finds the lesson important enough to make children aware of it.  I disagree that intentionally using it as a teachable moment is the dividing line between punishment and consequence.  And, as I said, I could agree for the sake of semantics, but then would have to say that I don't see it as negative.  There is an entire spectrum of shaming punishments that I would vehemently disagree with, and I intensely dislike lumping what we just talked about with those.

 

Also, by broadening the definition of punishment, you increase the likelihood that the answer to your question about EVER, would be "yes, for some kids in some situations, yes, punishment is sometimes necessary."

 

ETA (Then you are in danger of having to explain yourself to people who think you mean "punishment" as purposefully shaming or physically harming a child to drive home a lesson.)

post #50 of 170
Thread Starter 
The simple definition of punishment is that something bad is experienced and you learn from it. So making a child feel bad in some way is what punishment. Teaching without creating any kind of negative feeling isn't punishment.
post #51 of 170
We have 'teachable moments' almost constantly here ... Not in a "now-listen-as-i-pontificate" kind of way, but certainly in ways that we all learn and grow from. You spend your money on LEGO and then want to go see a movie? Spent money = no movie. Reality. Kid might perceive that as a punishment, but I see it as a consequence. Especially if i know that my child understands that money only goes so far and choices needed to be made. I'm not going to lecture her before every money decision she makes ...
post #52 of 170

Well, that's another variable: what children perceive.  They can see it as a punishment when a parent chooses to not step in and help, whereas the parent would see it as consequence.

post #53 of 170
Thread Starter 
Yes, sometimes a kid might perceive something as a punishment that we don't intend that way, but I think intent matters quite a bit too.
post #54 of 170

very interesting discussion.

 

I don't punish my kids. It doesn't fit, in my head, with ''teaching a person I love''. the word ''punishing'' rally makes me feel uncomfortable. why would I do that to innocent little people that are learning?

I am deeply convinced that children are born nice, and they don,t do anything to be mean.

their ''missbehavior'' is often not one. it is just our vision of it.

 

I just came back from work at and adult only hospital. on my way out of on patient's room, I see his 3 granddaughters , age 4 to 8 probably, trying to wash their hands with the alcohol based disinfectant (Purel) on the wall. they where having so much fun with that automatic dispenser and trying to cover all their fingers with the foam, then letting it dry.

it was the most mood boosting, smile inducing moment of my work day.

yes, their was some Purel on the floor. but not much.

Yes, they where a little bit too happy and too noisy for a hospital. and so what?

kids, with their ''bad'' behavior are part of life. part of us. they are the beautiful part of us.

 

if they where my kids, what would I have done?

 

probably just enjoyed the scene first. then I would remind them where they are and show them what happened to the floor. then I would ask them for ideas of what could be done, to fix the little mess. probably one of them would suggest we should clean it. And they can go see the nurse in charge, and say they did a mess.the nurse might just send a cleaner, or give the girls stuff to clean the few drops of purel on the floor.

 

this is discipline. they would learn much more from this kind of interaction, then if I told them: no dessert tonight! 

 

discipline is simply teaching.

post #55 of 170

I would almost agree with this approach, except that I would make sure it's not a one-sided conversation.  I'd ask questions to see what led to that behavior to see what I could do to help eliminate future instances of that behavior.  Plus, to become violent shows a very real frustration and hurt inside that needs to be identified and addressed, so asking questions can help figure that out and then, hopefully, alleviate it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Racecarma View Post

I agree with consequences.  In life, there are always consequences for bad behavior and to avoid teaching this is to leave them ill prepared for the real world.

 

Today my 4 year old son (who knows right from wrong and not to hit) deliberately took his sand shovel and whacked another younger child right on his head.  To have done nothing at all would be wrong . 1. The other mom was mouth-wide-open; "OMG"  2. My son is standing there about ready to do it again  3. In the real/adult world, if you whacked your co-worker on the head with a shovel or say, your stapler....well let's just say that would NOT fly.

 

So, he was told to apologize and he was removed from the play area to sit for a while.  Not being able to participate in play and do what he wanted for a few minutes. I explained to him that he was removed from play as a consequence of hurting someone.  After a few minutes of "thinking time" he was reminded that we don't hit other people and if he did this again we would have to leave the playground and go home immediately. So, call it whatever trendy word-of-the-day you want to call it but this "punishment or consequence" is necessary to raise good children.

 

Sorry if it offends people but I am "old school" when it comes to preparing kids for reality. While I do not believe we should engage in corporal punishment of any kind, I do think we must show them right from wrong and sometimes that means they must be disciplined.

 

We are not doing justice to our kids by ignoring or glossing over poor behavior.  While we do need to raise children with positive self image and to be happy, we don't need to raise children to think that they can do anything they please and not have a negative consequence.  That will only create children with an entitlement mind set ("it's my right to do anything I please") and add to the ever growing population of FB/Twitter-maniacal, self-centered, egotistical behavior that has become all too rampant today.

post #56 of 170
I'm loving this thread!  Joining in late to say that we haven't found punishments to be all that useful a tool. Funny story...
 
My DC was 6 when we moved from the west to the east coast. It was a hectic time and she was acting out a bit and I was struggling with finding a way to deal with it. One evening I kind of snapped and said, "That's it! You're getting a punishment."  And she stopped!  I was AMAZED.  A few hours later DC came and asked me when she could get her punishment. She didn't know what one was and I think thought it was something fun. So much for rewards and punishments being the same to kids. ;-)  
 
I agree with a lot that's being discussed on the last page of this thread - that some of this is a semantic issue, which takes me back to the good old TCS days!  
 
I think Daffodil did a nice job of explaining the natural/logical consequence thing. I think  that when some of us say they feel they have or strive to parent without punishments, that they probably do employ some logical consequences. 
 
I do think a lot of it comes down to intentions from the parent. I think something that seems very punitive could well be a kind thing to do for a child and something that seems pretty mild could in actuality feel very harsh and unreasonable. The exact same action can either be a harsh punishment or a peaceful natural consequence or not a consequence at all - depending on parent intentions.  
 
ETA: and of course I strongly disagree with the assumption that if we don't punish by conventional definitions that we are not addressing behavior. Even people who are fine with punishments know that they aren't the only trick in the book. And, for me, those alternatives have always seemed far more convincing to my DCs. 
post #57 of 170

IMO this comes down to semantics.  It seems this board uses "punishment" to mean something punitive, to shame the child.  It may also mean to use a reaction against the child that does not logically fit with the action.

 

I can easily see how the words "punishment" and "consequence" can mean similar things.  It really comes down to how the person defines those words.

post #58 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazurii View Post

I really do think that most mothers, especially the ones that frequent Mothering, are doing the best they can.  Not everyone can do Unconditional Parenting because they themselves are crawling out of a horror hole.  And that's okay.

I was skimming so I could join the conversation and I missed this. I totally agree!!  I took a class from an author of a wonderful parenting book and she talked about family culture being really important here. Being authentic is equally important as whatever label or ideal we're interested in as parents. I think that if you are punishing your kids because everyone knows you have a short fuse and that's the best way you have found to indicate that to your kids then you have found an ok solution to a problem. It's one that your kids can predict, that they understand, that is true to yourself, and that honors your humanity as a mother.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazurii View Post

I can easily see how the words "punishment" and "consequence" can mean similar things.  It really comes down to how the person defines those words.

And, yes, I do agree. I don't think there is a big enough difference between, "That's it!! We are putting the lego platform in the attic when we get home because I simply can not listen to more arguing over who gets the good platform piece," and, "Listen loves, I notice that we only have one platform and that you both really like to play with it. It has been creating tension in our family and I can not think of a solution that doesn't involve buying a new piece, which is not possible right now. I want you both to be able to focus on the joy of playing with legos so I have decided to put the platform piece away for now," to create a situation where parents feel like they are so different in how they parent/discipline. 

post #59 of 170

Finishing up the thread...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jemmaserene View Post

Tis is an idea that I have been struggling with recently. I just finished the book P.E.T. Parent Effectiveness Training by Thomas Gordon.

I took a class on this book and it was very well done!  Very good explanations for how to communicate and function with mutual respect as a family. 

 

Also, the "adult world" comparison and rush to teach children about what they will face when they are older never resonated with me. It's just not how I understand development. IMO, you don't teach people about something they will face in the future by teaching it "now".  You teach them what they need to know now, and continue to do that for the rest of their childhood and that is the way that they will understand the ways of the world.  

post #60 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

 

Also, the "adult world" comparison and rush to teach children about what they will face when they are older never resonated with me. It's just not how I understand development. IMO, you don't teach people about something they will face in the future by teaching it "now".  You teach them what they need to know now, and continue to do that for the rest of their childhood and that is the way that they will understand the ways of the world.  

I hear "that is what a boss would expect" often when referring to discipline (and I hear it often when talking about schooling as well).  I refuse to frame my child's world according what behavior a boss would expect.  (I don't have any words on hand for how that makes me feel, but perhaps some Klingon would suffice...."Kerplaaaahhhh!!!!"  Sounds about right. orngtongue.gif)

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