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what is wrong with punishment and consequences, generic answers? - Page 3

post #41 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar
This isn't at all how life is at our house (and I'm betting that Unschoolnma would say the same). There are no core, non-negotiable rules. I actually really dislike it when people pretend to be giving kids "choices" when it's all just a set up -
You were betting right I can't think of a "core" rule for us right now. I suppose I could say that it would be "treat others with respect", but in all honesty sometimes we feel that there are situations that don't call for respect or at least where it wasn't my first priority, KWIM?

I was trying to find another thing I wanted to highlight from your post, but I'll just say I second what Dar said.
post #42 of 106
Hear, hear!
post #43 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar
This isn't at all how life is at our house (and I'm betting that Unschoolnma would say the same). There are no core, non-negotiable rules. I actually really dislike it when people pretend to be giving kids "choices" when it's all just a set up - "These are the rules. You can choose to bring back your plates, but if you don't then you're chosing to lose the privilege of having food in your room."

The whole focus on punishment is a problem, I think (and "logical consequnces", from a behaviorist standpoint, are punishments).
Dar

For me, that example wasn't about choices. It was a response to the vermin scenario posed by another poster. Maybe it came across as sounding overly rigid or puritanical, but I think people need to find a balance that works for them. This example is primarily dealing with how a parent responds to the tendency of many children, mine included, to expect their parents to clean up after their messes. When a parent is constantly cleaning up after her children, she's actually protecting them from the consequences of not tidying up, and allowing the child to impinge on other's freedoms. It's not about false choices, it's about interconnectedness. We do not always have the 'choice' to do whatever we want.

About punishment, I posted earlier in this thread about how I thought the focus on punishment is a problem, too. I completely agree!
post #44 of 106
Thread Starter 
I am deleting all my posts.
post #45 of 106
I had to come back here and ask: How can anyone say they don't have any core rules? Maybe it's a misunderstanding about terminology but, to name some examples, not hitting each other in anger (something dd has been doing and is NOT okay) is a core rule.
Using mom's sewing scissors for paper crafts is against the rules, other scissors are fine.
At gramma's house, the rule is that food stays in the kitchen or dining room.
That's her rule and we respect it at her house.
When we are outside, we respect the rules of public conduct, like keeping hands out of our underpants etc.

These are the kinds of rules I mean, and however you refer to them, every family has them, right?

And it's not something parents inflict on their children, it's something everyone follows, whether adult or child.

"That's the rule, because..." is a useful thing to discuss with children.
Also, my experience is stemming from dealing with a five year old.... don't know what it's like dealing with preteens or teenagers.....
post #46 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by kavamamakava
Carolyn: your daughter reminds me of me. :LOL I was always getting in trouble and my mom fully supported my decisions and I was never bummed or believed I was in the wrong. I was so easy going and got along with everyone at home (for the most part).
LOL...she reminds me of me too : ..only I wasn't supported at home..but I didn't care...I had a strong sense of justice from an early age. My kids have that and I intend to support it.
post #47 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathipaul
The idea being that kids of 16 are too young to be making good decisions needed to drive a car. With that in mind, it stands to reason that there are other every day decisions that they also have a hard time with.
Except that the vast majority of 16 year olds drive a car just fine, so clearly they have the capability for whatever abstract reasoning is necessary.

I do think it's harder for teens (and preteens) to make good decisions, on average, than it is for me to make them. Part of it is developmental, part of it is wacky brain chemistry, and part is just lack of practice. I don't see that punishment will help with any of those things, though.

And no one is talking about casting our teens adrift to do whatever they want. My daughter is an "old" 12, and most of her friends are teenagers. They don't always make the best choices. Sometimes that means they're late for something, or not there when I pick them up, or get caught in awkward situations. It happens. I don't think punishing her will help, though. What does help is just talking, what-if-ing, knowing what things could possibly come up and have ideas about how to handle them. I think it also helps that we both have cell phones, and she knows that I want her to check in if plans change, or if she's unsure in a situation.

.
Quote:
Of course, I would never do it but the threat is enough and it is kind of logical. Sometimes, I even ask her, caught in the act taking his toy away, to choose which of her toys she is going to give the dog. The threat of that consequence stops her cold.
See, lying and threatening are just not part of my parenting repertoire. YMMV, clearly. Throwing stuff and watching it fall is developmentally so normal for toddlers... it's an exploration of cause and effect, basic physics, all that. If she was my child, I would change the situation - keep the door to the deck closed unless we were both out there, come up with some just-for-throwing-off things and offer those instead (maybe crumpled up balls of newspaper, even, the crumpling could be fun, too), or get some cardboard and block off the sides of the deck... lots of things.

Snowy Owl - yeah, I think it's terminology, but I think terminology is important. We have values, I think, and beliefs, and habits, or usual practices. We keep the scissors and tape in the drawer to the left of the sink because that's where we've always kept them, but if someone wanted to keep them somewhere else that would be okay... but we value kindness and consideration, so we would tell the other person first. It's not a rule so much as how we do it...

Some things are polite and some are impolite, and picking your nose in public into the latter category. And other people may have rules for their house, and if we choose to go there it's respectful to follow them... we don't hang out with many people who have lots of rules, though.

Maybe it's my rebel-teen-thing, but I tend to see rules as unfair constraints and want to break them It's just an instinct...

Dar
post #48 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar
What does help is just talking, what-if-ing, knowing what things could possibly come up and have ideas about how to handle them. I think it also helps that we both have cell phones, and she knows that I want her to check in if plans change, or if she's unsure in a situation.
I totally agree. I've said it before that I think discussion and "what-if" talking is such a great thing. It helps us talk about what we (parents & kids) think good decision making looks like, what we think is safe, what options are if they get into something they aren't comfortable with. How punishment will help is beyond me really. To me it (punishment) takes what could be an opportunity to learn something about themselves and decision making and turns it into a way to make a kid feel embarassed, ashamed, and guilty. That just isn't a goal for me in raising kids.

Quote:
See, lying and threatening are just not part of my parenting repertoire.
Mine either. Why would that be something we want to do to our kids? I certainly don't want them to do that to me.

Quote:
We keep the scissors and tape in the drawer to the left of the sink because that's where we've always kept them, but if someone wanted to keep them somewhere else that would be okay... but we value kindness and consideration, so we would tell the other person first. It's not a rule so much as how we do it...
Right. Sometimes I think people make mountains out of molehills with things like that. But then again I don't see why children are often left out of "rule" making in the first place.
post #49 of 106
I'm generally of the natural consequences school.

I'll address some specific scenarios
1) I can't keep plants alive. I forget to water them. I've killed ivy in a pot! I'm currently nuturing 2 plants - one is 2 years old one is about 2 months old. If I forgot the water the plant, and DH saw it was dry, I'd expect him to water it. I don't need him to "teach me a lesson" that plants without water die. And I think the same situation would be coercive and inauthentic for our daughter. The newer plant is kind of hers, but we water it together. If the plant dies becase WE forget to water it than it's a nautral consequence. If the plant dies because SHE forgets to water it and I notice it but decide to teach her a lesson, then I'm engaging in "logical" consequences.

2)To reiterate, if she goes out without a coat and gets cold, she's got natural consquences, but I'd give her mine or otherwise make her warm. If I refuse to give her the coat, I'm back to logical consequences or punishment.

3) To the poster who got picked up from the police due to bad judgement - do you really think the grounding was necessary? In my own teenage years, the actual police call was enough to scare the daylights out of me! No further punishment would have been necessary. But maybe that goes down to the kid. Mom didn't feel the need to punish me, but maybe another type of reenager would have benefitted.

4) For the 15 yo who rode down the hill and killed himself on his bike - maybe his parents always imposed limits on him, so he didn't develop his own sense of judgement. Think of those parents on the playgound who are telling their kids "That's too high. You'll fall. Here, let me help you. That's high enough. Take my hand." I let my 2 yo develop her own sense of safety and danger. As soon as the parents weren't around to tell the kid it was dangerous, he went out and did something that was.

5) When my 2 yo showed interest in the stove, I took her hand and had her hold it above the burner until it felt hot. When I open the oven, she would probably stay away, but I ask her to stand on the other side of the kitchen because it scares ME, not because I think she is in danger. Likewise, DH is deathly afraid of heights, so I don't stand near the edges of cliffs when he is around because it makes him nervous. I know I won't fall and I know he can't really get over his fear.

6)Someone really set me straight on another list when I was discussing potty-training. DD kept refusing to use the potty and wetting her pants. So I'd take the pants off and put her back in a dipe as a "natural consequence." But they pointed out that the natural consequence of wetting your pants, was wet pants! And I should help her to do what I do when I wet my pants (from a sneeze or cough). Let's get new underwear on.

In that we are "continuum concept" parents, we expect our daughter to do the "done thing," but simply because it is the done thing not because it is a "rule" pe se. And I guess this gets into terminology. So, when DH picks ups the expensive Gingher sewing scissors I say - Those are only for fabric. You don't use those on wrapping paper. But look in the box and you'll find paper scissors. I don't say "The rule is we only use these on fabric." To me, one feels coercive and arbitrary. Who makes the rules anyway? Those with the power. While the other acknowedges that we all need to get along in ways that respect each other.
post #50 of 106
Thread Starter 
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post #51 of 106
Thread Starter 
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post #52 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathipaul
We were not the mellow, tow the line type kids some of you in this thread have talked about
I don’t think most of us are talking about ‘tow the line kids’. I, personally, feel this is a very insulting thing to call someone or someone’s kids (based on my own values) so I wanted to point this out. Someone’s talking about an 11 year old who isn’t afraid of being punished and stands up to what she feels is an injustice in her school. That’s cool, imo!

If you want to know what I think is wrong with punishing my kid…I’ll try to tell you. Mostly, it’s because it isn’t consistent with the rest of our relationship. I try very hard to be in the moment with her. Punishment is about the future, ime.

But, if you ask me if I punish I’d have to think more about that. I’m sure some of the more TCS parents would think I do. Like I said, it’s in my head ~ it’s my reaction that separates punishment from the facts of life.

For me, I think we could do the exact same thing and one be punishment and not the other. I know this because I’ve experienced this many times.



An example would be that we leave the book store because DC is making a mess.

Situation #1:

I’m tired, recognize that and take responsibility for that. DC is cranky, I see that. I tell DC that I’m tired and it seems like she’s having a rough time. I tell her I want to go.


Situation #2:

I’m tired and DC is cranky. I tell her that we are leaving because she’s making a mess.







Piglet posted a topic about a great section in a book she read that gives good reasons not to punish.
post #53 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathipaul
For many, punishment and consequences seem to not be part of the families repetoire but I don't recall reading exactly why punishment and consequences are seen as bad? I wish some of you would elaborate on what you think would happen to your children if they did something you consider wrong and you gave them a consequence or punishment.
I think punishments are problematic because they address a symptom and not the cause. If your kid is crying b/c he's hungry and you send him to time-out to calm down, you may stop the crying. However, the hunger need is still unmet. But worse, in my opinion, is that the kid gets a really lousy lesson in feeling helpless and unheard and the attachment betw. parent and child is weakened rather than strengthened.

Now, who of us would punish a kid crying out of hunger, right? :LOL Because it seems so obvious an unmet need. We've been feeding these babies on demand for years! But, other unmet needs are much harder to diagnose couched in what we consider "misbehavior." And we tend to worry that left unsquelched, these behaviors (or mis-behaviors) will continue until adulthood. But meeting a child's needs, teaching them the socially acceptable way to cope, modeling what's acceptable, and giving them the tools to do something different provide a much better framework for kids' to actually learn what TO do (not just what NOT to do.).


Quote:
Originally Posted by kathipaul
And, I flat out don't believe anyone who says they don't have rules in their house. You just don't call them rules and you don't talk about them as rules. But, we all have practices and mores and values and traditions that we teach our children and expect them follow.
You might want to ask people who say this to clarify, then.

There is a difference betw. rules and practices and mores and values and traditions. All those words have distinct meanings.

I like the idea of Principles vs. rules. Principles can generally be summed up in one word: Respect, Kindness, Honesty, Compassion, Safety, etc. This is what I strive for in my family rather than inflexible rules like: No lying.

For example, when my elderly father found out we were having another boy, he sent us a copy of Dobson's Bringing Up Boys. Blorf!! If I had a rule of "No lying," I would have to tell him, when he asked, that I thought the book was complete and utter trash and had already discarded it. However, within my Principles of Compassion and Honesty, I told him how thoughtful it was that he sent us it and that I hadn't really had a chance to look through it, yet. It was thoughtful of him to send it, but I had looked through it and made up my mind that it was horrible and depressing. What would be served by telling my father this? Even if it meant abiding by a rule?

Likewise, when we walk through a parking lot, rather than have a rule of "You must hold mommy's hand." I've adopted a Principle of Safety (THANK YOU, DAR!) whereby my kid can hold onto me or the backpack, be carried, walk right next to me, ride in the cart, etc. It gives both of us more choices and an opportunity to work together.

Here are some links I find helpful--you might, too.

Ten Alternatives to Punishment
http://www.naturalchild.org/jan_hunt/punishment.html

Living by Principles instead of by Rules
http://sandradodd.com/rules
post #54 of 106
Another reason I’ve read about why not to punish is the idea that some kids who are punished leave the situation feeling they’ve “paid” for their crime. The idea is the punishment diminishes the natural ‘guilt’ or negative feelings or positive processing after doing something ‘wrong’.


Oh, and I agree that in cases where kids are being punished often, there may well be an unmet need happening. You can not punish a need away.

That reminds me of a big one. I have found that during the most challenging times with DC (the times I may have been tempted to punish) she has been sick of had some other need or problem bubbling under the surface. Being wrong and punishing my child is one of the worst things I can imagine when it comes to discipline mistakes.
post #55 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama
I don’t think most of us are talking about ‘tow the line kids’. I, personally, feel this is a very insulting thing to call someone or someone’s kids (based on my own values) so I wanted to point this out.
I pm'd you an apology.
post #56 of 106
Read the book Unconditional Parenting. It explains it better than I can.
post #57 of 106
Okay, finally get a chance to respond to this post!

Why are punishments and consequences wrong?

For the sake of discussion I'm going to limit the terms "punishment/consequences" to those imposed by the parent, rather than getting into a discussion of "natural vs logical consequences", etc...

Here is why I think they are "wrong" (btw, I'd rather use: completely ineffective and damaging, rather than pass a moral judgement on them)...

Parents are able to impose punishments and consequences on kids for one simple reason: they are "bigger", both physically and psychologically. If your 25 month old was 6 feet tall and 200 lbs, you'd have a hell of a time wresting the beloved toy out of her hands and throwing it to the dog. The power to punish stems from the same power we have to nurture (feed, hold, clothe, love...). We can do these things and they cannot.

The first problem with punishment/consequences is that, at some age, you will lose that power. Usually in adolescence. As soon as your child can walk out the door without you, you've lost that power. Right there is, to me, a fundamental limit of this method. I love what Thomas Gordon wrote: "An adolescent does not rebel against her parents, she rebels against their power." Preventing the whole "teen rebellion" thing is a huge motivator, for me.

Second, even with young children, the ability to punish depends on doing/taking something of value to the child. Threatening loss of the beloved toy to the dog worked. But what if the child decides "to heck with you, go ahead and give my toy away, I don't care, I'm going to keep throwing toys off the balcony". Then what do you do? You may look for a different, stronger punishment...and this is a battle that can go back and forth if your child is strong-willed enough.

But I think the greatest reason for not using punishments/consequences is the effect it has on the child. I sure know how *I* felt when punished, or when my parents imposed a 'consequence" on me...here is a list of emotions/reactions (from Thomas Gordon's book "Parent Effectiveness Training"):

Resistance, defiance, rebellion, resentment, hostility, anger, agression, retaliation, lying, blaming others, cheating, bossing, bullying, sore loser, submission, compliance, obedience, "butt-kissing" other authority figures, conformity, lack of creativity, fear of trying....

These feelings are pretty much universal in humans. I think it goes back to what ICM wrote before: a child who is the victim of the unfair power a parent has over them is unlikely to view their punishment as a "lesson", but rather to focus on their own feelings of being a victim. These emotions put us on the defensive, triggering a "fight or flight" mechanism where we view the situation as "us vs. them"...I don't want that dynamic in ANY relationship I have, including that with my children. And I SURE don't want them growing up thinking that is a normal relationship to have with their bosses, lovers, spouses, etc...

Despite popular belief, it is possible to have "rules" or "limits" or "principles"...boundaries by which children learn, without having to ever impose punishments. So the idea that "no punishment/consequences = no rules" is false.

Punishment does not INFLUENCE a child, punishment FORCES a child. The child threatened with having a beloved toy given to the dog is not learning anything about why it is wrong to throw toys over the balcony, other than it is a specific way to avoid having a loved toy taken away. The child has not been taught or convinced or persuaded or motivated...they have been coerced/forced. As soon as the threat of giving the toy away is gone, or loses its value, the behaviour is free to continue (and research shows it will...the child becomes so focussed on getting back what they had that they tend to do it given half a chance - the parent is gone, for example - just to exert their independence and will). I think this is human nature.

I guess, finally, the reason why I think punishment and consequences are "wrong" is because they are simply unnecessary. It very much IS possible to raise wonderful, self-disciplined, self-motivated children without having to exert parental power in this manner. And it really begs the question...given a choice, why would any parent CHOOSE to use these methods? It seems to me, it is clearly because they have run out of options, a limit of their own knowledge, rather than any proof that it is actually an effective means of discipline. (and we have only to refer to my thread last week of what happened when I ran head-first against the limit of my own knowledge ).
post #58 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathipaul
The only thing that will make her stop is the threat that if she throws all his toys overboard, I will give him her toy cow. The idea being that if she throws all his toys away, he needs something to play with so he can have her toy. That works. Of course, I would never do it but the threat is enough and it is kind of logical.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathipaul
I don't lie to my child
I'm not trying to pick on you, but I do think it's important to be aware of what we're actually doing. Telling your child that "she throws all his toys overboard, I will give him her toy cow" when you "would never" give him the cow is lying. You're telling your child that you will do something that you would never do. If that's not lying, what is it?

Another thing: being a classroom teacher is very different than being a parent. I've been both, for years, and the basic constraints of the school system (many kids, required curriculum) make many good "parenting" practices difficult or impossible. I don't teach the way I parent, or the way I hang out with a friend's kids, although I try to incorporate what I can.

Why not punish? I think the better question is, why punish? Punishment doesn't teach, doesn't resolve things long-term, leads to resentment of the punisher, demonstrates that big people can hurt little people, makes a child feel powerless and ashamed, makes a child sneakier ... all this, and the payoff is that you may change behavior in the short-term, with little effort, and that it "feels right" because of society's messages to us.

Dar
post #59 of 106
Piglet68 ~
Im printing out your post right now to put on my fridge
post #60 of 106
Thread Starter 
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