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Punishment: is it ever necessary? - Page 2

post #21 of 188
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
I find as mama I have to have some solutions up my sleeve where I know I'm going to be able to get what I need, done.
So what if someone told you that you could have such tools up your sleeve that didn't involve punishment (and I think timeout is a punishment, wouldn't you agree?) would you want to try it?

Quote:
When I was trying to do no parent imposed consequences entirely, I found I very quickly began to feel powerless, and angry. It's no fun to have your agenda controlled by the whims of a 3 year old who doesn't have a sense of time or responsibility. Negotiating with a small person to get myself to school on time just didn't work for me.
But it doesn't have to be either/or. Either you use punishment OR your agenda is being controlled by the whims of a 3 year old (which I think we can all agree would get you nowhere!)...what if you could have limits and structure and NOT feel powerless and angry, all without using punishment? (I'm being philosophical here, btw) Would you be willing to consider it, or do you think it really isn't possible?
post #22 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
Me too. That's an Alfie Kohn quote isn't it? It really resonates. But I think there are multiple roads to that end, kwim?
Yes, I do think there are multiple roads to that end for sure. Once in a while, one of my kids will tell me they worry that I don't love them when I'm angry. I tell them that I love them no matter what because I'm their mom and my love goes on for ever and ever through the moon and all the planets and across the universe and back into our house and bounces between my heart and theirs for ever and ever and ever...(or something similar ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by piglet68
Mama: "I see you are having trouble leaving the playground today and we can't seem to come up with a solution that works for both of us so I'm going to help you by carrying you to the car" [and while child protests and tantrums mama offers sympathy "it's hard isn't it? I totally know how you feel"]. not punishment
I think there are times that it would feel patronising to do that. Sometimes I just *don't* feel all sorry for them when they act completely selfish and irrational. I just don't. And for me to say otherwise would be fake. I don't tell them they're being "selfish and irrational" but I tell them it's ok to be upset and we're still leaving. I don't think that necessarily, in all cricumstances, being overly wordy works. The kids block it out and I get tired of the sound of my own voice. I HATE it when people act nice when they're actually pissed and I can hear it below the surface.
ETA: Plus, I think that teaches kids that anger is scary and not ok and needs to be kept hidden which is very unhealthy and can lead to all sorts of problems down the road.
post #23 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamajama View Post
Do you ever think, "well I won't do that because it would upset my dh"?
Oh, absolutely. But I don't think his being upset is a "punishment". It is an honest emotion.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamajama View Post
I am also leery of treating little kids like mini-adults yk? Because they aren't. They're kids with different needs and abilities than adults.
Yes, of course they are different and I am not advocating treating them as mini-adults. I am saying they are worthy of the same level of respect as adults. I understand that I can not make a straight comparisment, but when it comes to the basic human values, I believe they are the same for kids and adults alike.
So, sometimes "putting myself in their shoes" helps me realize that just because I am bigger, more experienced and other "mores" that come with age does not entitle me to exibit disrespect.

I'm sure there are some things my kids do because if they didn't I'd be annoyed or upset--like swearing or yelling at me or something yk? I try to stay away from extrinsic motivation as much as possible for sure! But sometimes it's just necessary for us, I think.[/QUOTE]
post #24 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post
So what if someone told you that you could have such tools up your sleeve that didn't involve punishment (and I think timeout is a punishment, wouldn't you agree?) would you want to try it?
Sure! As long as they don't involve martyrdom on my part or giving up things I feel are important. And honestly, I've asked and asked around here so I feel I know the lay of the land where tools up your sleeve are concerned.

I've gotten a lot of great idea - for example, we were having drama with getting dressed in the morning. So now I get the little bugger dressed before bed, conflict solved. Easier for me, she thinks it's hilarious. Amazing advice.

But there are a few things where the solutions suggested are just too out there for me. On the shoes, I've gotten "why don't you blow bubbles on the way out to the car" - no. "Carry her!" - no. "Well, do you have to really go out, anyway?" - yes.

I really am in a place where I am comfortable with the places I set firm limits and do parent imposed consequences - unless there is something else DOABLE that would be more gentle.

Doable is a big one. I have extra energy in my life for strategizing better solutions, but not for significantly more labour intensive practices, if that makes sense. I'm tired, kwim? I'm maxxed out. I am right now putting out the maximum output of energy I can with my child without feeling used up and resentful. I don't feel those things, but I have in the past, and I know what I need to do to keep the balance so I can keep the peaceful loving mama feeling, which really is such an important thing in our relationship, more important than whether I said, "okay, then that will be timeout" this morning over the shoes.

So yeah, if in any given situation there is something else doable, for ME, not for what other people think I should be able to perk it up to do, I'm in.

eta - Wow, did I say "doable" enough?
post #25 of 188
I see what you mean. Then, no, actually, I guess we don't punish. DH and I are both lawyers, and so I guess are into language. I am all about the "You're not using that safely. I'm putting that away until we can come up with a better way for us to use it."

I do think my child is not a "little adult" as someone said. I have a greater understanding of some areas, and as such end up getting the "final say" on some things, such as when we leave the park. I especially think this is true with regard to things involving time- time matters in the world we inhabit, in a different way than it does to my children(and they are not yet able to grasp that at a later time they will be hungrier, more tired, miss activities, etc.). I am trying to respect their needs to both be children and learn to inhabit our world at the same time, which definitely results in situations where there are no MAS's.
post #26 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
Punishment. Imposed consequences? Time out? Putting a child in a stroller if they won't put on footwear? Removing a cat from the child's grasp if they won't stop harassing it? Pulling your baby off the breast if they bite you?

All those things are imposed consequences. If that is punishment, then yes, I think it's necessary.
It seems to me that the only one in that list that I could blanketly call a punishment, would be time out. (if it's not a "time in" lol)

Quote:
Originally Posted by irinam View Post
Plus I do not see a point in "making" somebody do/not do something in order to avoid punishment.
Are you talking about using the threat of punishment, or are you talking about something else? (just curious )

Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
I honestly would feel that I was being deceptive if I tried to cozy it up in pretty language. Not to say that others are necessarily doing that, because you are not if that's your natural communication style. But it's not mine, so it would be for me, and my kid would know and probably feel manipulated.

I like direct, respectful, and loving interaction.
I see what you're saying, and to me it IS more honest to tell my ds "It seems really tempting to you to hit people with that hammer. Let's put it away to take away the temptation."
It's not making it sound prettier. It's exactly what I mean (I'm obsessively honest with ds), and it's exactly what I do. Though most often, ds agrees to have the temptation taken away.
post #27 of 188
Thread Starter 
thanks, thismama. I have to say that while we seem to be butting heads lately I enjoy your style and your upfront honesty.
post #28 of 188
nak

necessary? no.
post #29 of 188
It seems that so far on this thread everyone shares the same fundamental values of honesty and respect when it comes to 'discipline'. So the rest is a matter of personal communication style together with our children's temperments and our life circumstances. It's all about balance in the end, isn't it?
post #30 of 188
I totally agree with what Piglet said about punishment vs. not punishment.
In that case, we do not punish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamajama View Post
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by piglet68
Mama: "I see you are having trouble leaving the playground today and we can't seem to come up with a solution that works for both of us so I'm going to help you by carrying you to the car" [and while child protests and tantrums mama offers sympathy "it's hard isn't it? I totally know how you feel"]. not punishment

I think there are times that it would feel patronising to do that. Sometimes I just *don't* feel all sorry for them when they act completely selfish and irrational. I just don't. And for me to say otherwise would be fake. I don't tell them they're being "selfish and irrational" but I tell them it's ok to be upset and we're still leaving. I don't think that necessarily, in all cricumstances, being overly wordy works. The kids block it out and I get tired of the sound of my own voice.
For me, I can stay honest while empathizing by saying "It does suck to have to leave when you're not ready." or even just "it sucks, I know." I know it sucks. I'd be mad if someone carried me out of a store before I was ready. I don't have to tell him I'm sorry that we're leaving. And I could even add later that it's frustrating for me, and I don't really feel like going to the park again, when its so hard to leave.
post #31 of 188

Punishment: is it ever necessary?

Only for those who believe it is necessary.

Pat
post #32 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post
thanks, thismama. I have to say that while we seem to be butting heads lately I enjoy your style and your upfront honesty.
Thank you. I really appreciate that.
post #33 of 188
we do not punish... but I would like to point out that in my goal to work with and negotiate with my kids I do not give up MY needs... or social conetxt needs etc... In every situation it is my goal to work with my kids to come up with solutions that address all our needs whenever and as much as possible... I would never want to model matyrdom because I do not want my children to expect it or do it themselves... I want them to learn to respect and consider the needs of everyone in the situation... I must admit that for my middle son who hates to "talk" it can be like a punishment to worl things out! and sometimes we have to work around that
post #34 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deva33mommy View Post
Are you talking about using the threat of punishment, or are you talking about something else? (just curious )
Threat of punishment as well as the actual punishment in attempt to "make them learn a lesson".
post #35 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post
Mama: "I see you are having trouble leaving the playground today and we can't seem to come up with a solution that works for both of us so I'm going to help you by carrying you to the car" [and while child protests and tantrums mama offers sympathy "it's hard isn't it? I totally know how you feel"]. not punishment
I don't think intention or compassion are enough to distinguish punishment from non-punishment.

A parent could honestly say, with compassion and loving intent, "I see you are having trouble leaving the playground today and we can't seem to come up with a solution that works for both of us so I'm going to spank you so you see how important this is" [and while child protests and tantrums mama offers sympathy "it's hard isn't it? I totally know how you feel."]

We still need to look at the consequences to the child, from the child's point of view, not the parent's. If the child is protesting and tantrumming its probably an indication that this is aversive experience for the child.

I don't believe that a parent can eliminate all aversive experiences, nor would that be a good idea, but deliberately administering an aversive experience is something we should look very closely at, being careful not to dismiss the child's experience of it by thinking that because we didn't mean for it to be punishment, it isn't.
post #36 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post
I don't believe that a parent can eliminate all aversive experiences, nor would that be a good idea, but deliberately administering an aversive experience is something we should look very closely at, being careful not to dismiss the child's experience of it by thinking that because we didn't mean for it to be punishment, it isn't.
See, here is where I get lost in the woods.

I noticed you (Piglet) used my example of boxing up left-out toys as a punishment for not cleaning up (which, by the way, wasn't initially intended as a punishment, it was intended as some sort of natural consequence; I realized after the fact that it really was not). So when the situation arose again (newspapers intentionally scattered all over the floor and refusal to clean them up despite earlier agreement to do so), I calmly explained that I would be willing to do the cleanup myself, but that would set dinnertime back, which would set bedtime back, which would leave no time for books, which she loves--a natural consequence, yet my DD clearly found it aversive, and I clearly used my power as an adult and the one who can read the books to her to "force" her to clean up.

So, does that automatically make it a punishment? If so, how does a parent gain compliance in such a situation without exerting some force of will? I'm truly at a loss. I aspire to more CL ideals, but in practice, I just can't see my way clear to making it work. I'd like to say I don't use punishment, but if any aversive experience for a child is considered punishment, whether it's administered in the name of the good of the family as a whole or even the child herself, then I guess I actually do.
post #37 of 188
I haven't read the replies, but my first response was: depends on what you consider punishment. Have I ever said to ds "You hit your brother, so no dessert?" No, and I don't think I will because it just doesn't make sense to me.

But, I have definitely had "grey area" moments: They are watching tv, ds1 does something mean to ds2, and I turn off the tv to deal with it. Ds1 would probably consider this a punishment, and some others may as well. From my perspective, if ds2 is now screaming, the tv needs to go off so I can handle the situation because with it on ds1 isn't able to focus on what I'm saying.

And I will admit that sometimes I feel a bit stumped with not using punishment. Like when ds1 does something so completely wrong, and he doesn't seem to care in the slightest what I have to say about it. Sure, maybe he's tired, or upset about something, but that doesn't make it okay for him to push ds2 over. So the times that he does something like this, and then just walks away like I don't even exist, I feel at a loss.

Hmm, there's a trend here. I feel most at a loss when he does something to someone else - hurts ds2 or one of us, or is really rude. Those are the moments I feel most compelled to "punish" him, although I don't, and am often left feeling like he "got away with it." I never feel the need to punish him for other things he might do that don't involve anyone else.

Another thought that came to my mind is that I think it's a bit different than the vegetarian vs. Big Mac comparison. It's more like a natural foods vs. french fries. Yes, on a day when I am tired and burnt out I just may go through that drive through and order french fries, because I just don't have the energy to prepare a healthy dinner. And that's how I feel about discipline with my kids: On good days I handle things with patience and empathy, and on bad days there is a lot more yelling and what I consider less overt forms of punishment - me being mad, speaking in harsh tones, saying immature things, etc. So I don't think that it's necessarily black and white - I think that you can be a non punishing parent in general but slip up sometimes.
post #38 of 188
Slept on it - I decided that there are times when a parent needs to send a clear message that a certain action will not be tolerated. Pulling from a recent thread, I'm not going to let my cat be sent down the laundry shoot 3 or 4 times, while I try different strategies for working the problem out. 1 warning on those kind of things - after that, consequences will be imposed. We do not hurt people or animals. If the talking works - great. If the cat takes care of the consequences for me - great. But if not, I will not be afraid to curb and correct distructive behavior (and that doesn't mean getting rid of my cats or creating escape routes for my cats, redirection, etc.).

I also don't think punishment is always about anger. Consequences can be imposed without being angry. And imposing consequences does not mean that you get out of teaching either. A frequent scenario in our house growing up was a heartfelt discussion about why an action was immoral, apologies, and a discussion about what the consequence was going to be. Like my driving example, there are times in life when having natural and imposed consequences are helpful.

I really don't villanize punishment - I don't think punishment is "right" or "wrong". I think the negative consequences of punishment that we hear about are the result of abuse and over use of the concept. So no, for me never ever using punishment is not even a reasonable goal. If I choose to use punishment, I'm not going to call it a "slip up". I will call it a choice, and I will evaluate the effectiveness of my choice.
post #39 of 188
I don't think that punishment is ever necessary....but coercion is, kwim?

Like, with my children and putting on shoes. Now, I go barefoot all the time, so I really don't care if they wear shoes. But if I did, I would see nothing wrong with putting them on myself, or putting a barefoot kiddo in the stroller.
post #40 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
Punishment. Imposed consequences? Time out? Putting a child in a stroller if they won't put on footwear? Removing a cat from the child's grasp if they won't stop harassing it? Pulling your baby off the breast if they bite you?
To me, punishment is something aversive that you do after a behavior occurs that makes that behavior less likely to occur in the future. So pulling the baby off the breast is clearly a punishment (though not one I find inappropriate.) To a certain extent, I think it matters whether you are doing the aversive thing primarily to reduce the behavior, or for some other reason (to protect the cat, say.) But in general, I think the effect on the kid is more important than your intent in deciding whether or not to call it a punishment. Another thread a while back helped me realize that this way of looking at it seems strange and counterintuitive to some (maybe most) people.

So, given MY definition of punishment, I don't think it's actually possible never to punish. Just getting angry or annoyed when your kid does something is a punishment, and if you're human you can't avoid doing that. (And if you wouldn't want to anyway, if you want your kid to learn how to live with other humans.)

But I DO think it's possible never to do the things that are more commonly seen as punishments - time outs, taking away privileges, "If you do X, I'll impose consequence Y." I don't do those things, and don't plan to.

Of course, my oldest is only 4, and she's an unusually compliant kid, so maybe I just haven't yet run into the situation where I would find punishment necessary. I can't imagine her just refusing to let me put on her shoes if I insisted we had to leave right away, for instance. But I also can imagine non-punishment solutions that might work for us if she did refuse. Maybe we could have a pair of rubber boots she could just step into on the way out the door if she didn't want to go barefoot, and then I'd put her shoes and socks on her before getting her out of her carseat when we got to our destination. Maybe I'd just sit on her legs to hold her in place while I put her shoes on. (For some reason, that actually seems preferable to punishing with a time out. Maybe just because it puts the focus on the practical matter of getting the shoes on, instead of on the the issue of obedience.)
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