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Punishment: is it ever necessary? - Page 3

post #41 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanish Rose View Post
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.
Yep, that's part of what I was trying to say, only put more succintly.
post #42 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post

I myself honestly believe that there is never a need for punishment. And I think this applies to everybody.
Never a need for punishment, ever...for everybody? I so strongly disagree.
What do you expect we do with murderers, child molesters, rapists, thieves, child abusers...the whole lot of people that are in our jails and prisons...and those on their way? Reason with them and let them know what they did was wrong, then send them on their way?
I know people who have had their license taken away from having too many speeding tickets....that is wreckless driving behavior that can cost the life of another. That punishment is certainly warranted!!
My step dad lost hi driver's license for about 3 years, and spent a year in jail because of repeated DUIs. The last straw was him running a red light through a residential area at 65 MPH, hitting 2 cars and THANKFULLY nobody was killed. Do you not believe punishment was warranted in that situation?
There are rules in our society that are set for the greater good. When those rules are broken, there SHOULD be a consequence, and it SHOULD be a punishment! It should be something that will deter one from doing it again. It doesn't always work, which is why we have repeat offenders...on the other hand it DOES work for many. People abide by laws out of fear of the punishment....and I'm perfectly OK with that! The fact is, not everybody has the same morals and values....yet fear of punishment will stop them from doing something that can hurt themself or another.
Perfect example....the helmet law. I know MANY people who are against the helmet law, yet they abide by the law so they won't get in trouble. My brother is one of those people, and he got in a horrible motorcycle accident that nearly cost him his life. Of course now he's greatful that he was wearing a helmet...and does so without griping.
I do use punishment on occasion, and it is effective with my son.
ETA: I'm assuming we're not *just* talking about children here.
I also want to add that the things I do are considered punishment *here* among GDers...not so much in the mainstream. For example, my son wants to play with his train set...I take it out for him, but I let him ahead of time, that he is to clean it up when he's done. I let him know that if he doesn't clean it up, and *I* have to clean it up, he will be restricted from playing with it for XX days. I started doing this because of his vehement refusal to pick up his messes. Now, he knows I mean business, and will pick up his mess when he KNOWS ahead of time that it's his job to do so. I tried other avenues, and realised that my son just didn't take me seriously until I put my foot down. Call it punishment, I call it "what works". thismama I keep nodding my head in agreement when I read your posts in this thread.
post #43 of 188
That's a really good point, frenchie. I wonder if the people who are advocating for no punishment are against it for everyone, or just children? If those who advocate for no rules mean no rules for everyone, or just children?

It seems a bit absurd to me that children should have no rules and no consequences, when they are necessary in the culture to maintain order among adults.
post #44 of 188
Thread Starter 
frenchie, i was actually just referring to parents punishing children, not adults punishing adults. but good questions.

In an ideal world yes i would say no punishment. have you heard of Restorative Justice? I think it's a wonderful idea. I also like the idea of treating criminals as people with deep wounds in them. I could go on but it's a whole different subject. Suffice it to say I don't have a parent/child dynamic with a crook, and an adult crook is not at the early stage of development that my children are that I can attempt to mold behaviours (those pathways are set and i'm not sure they can ever be repaired) and I think sometimes the best we can do for society is put those people where they can't harm others. But I actually don't believe in using punishment as a tool for justice.


Then there is the classic argument that punishment exists in society so our kids should "get used to it". Well I want my kids to act admirably b/c they want to.

- it's true that if i screw up at work i'll get fired, but i wouldn't screw up on purpose even if i couldn't get fired b/c it would mess up stuff for my workmates or a customer or somebody else would suffer for it and that would not be right

- it's true that if I speed I get a ticket but i don't speed excessively b/c I think it's unsafe. i do speed a bit if i think it's safe (everybody does) even though we know we could get caught

- it's true that if I stole from you i could get punished but that isn't why i do it, it's b/c i think stealing is just wrong

I want my child to be internally motivated and I think punishment interferes with that. It creates a victim mentality in the mind of the punished person, rather than letting them think about what they did and what the effect was.
post #45 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.

These things that get villainized here are such slippery slopes, kwim?


eta - I was veg for 15 years. Got lots of recipes, but in the end it wasn't healthy for my body. Now I'm trying to eat meat again.
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post #46 of 188
I think my definition of "punishment" is different.

To me, a punishment is an unrelated punitive consequence to an action.

I don't think it is a punishment to be angry at your children when you can't get them to leave the park and you have to go - I think it is just being authentic. It is always my desire to be empathetic and understanding and I can be that way 95% of the time, but I don't believe that showing my daughter that I can get angry is punitive unless I am punitive with my anger (i.e., telling her she is "bad"). I never shame or demoralize with my anger.

Quote:
People abide by laws out of fear of the punishment....and I'm perfectly OK with that!
I don't really see that. I believe people abide by laws because they know it's the right thing to do, that they have intrinsic motivation. Obviously people break laws all the time and we have to ask ourselves why? It is not fear of punishment, it is because they lack intrinsic motivation. Perhaps if these people had been brought up without a system of rewards and punishments then they would have gained the intrinsic motivation.

The bottom line is that I want my children to live within the rules of society out of a sense of cooperation and not fear.
post #47 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post
- it's true that if I speed I get a ticket but i don't speed excessively b/c I think it's unsafe. i do speed a bit if i think it's safe (everybody does) even though we know we could get caught.
This is where you are wrong. *I* do not speed even a little bit, because I do not want a ticket. I cannot afford to get tickets. It would be very bad for our family to waste precious resources on something silly like taking a chance to speed a little bit. The punishment is obviously not enough to be an effective deterent for you and alot of people, but there are people like myself who do take the threat seriously. Don't think just because something doesn't work for you - it doesn't work for anybody.

I also wouldn't think I'm a "victim" if I got pulled over for a speeding ticket (Which I wouldn't cause I don't speed, but if I did...), because the consequence was outlined ahead of time and I made the choice to disregard. I would be a victim if I got pulled over a ticketed because my truck is red and the cop hates red trucks.
post #48 of 188
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post
I don't think intention or compassion are enough to distinguish punishment from non-punishment...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.
Wow, this gave me so much to think about. great post!

Quote:
Originally Posted by melissel View Post
...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.
Another excellent point. Is an aversive experience for the child perceived as punishment? I'm going to have to mull this over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
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.
Okay but do you turn it back on as soon as you can? Then I think the child recognizes it wasn't used as punishment.

Quote:
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.
Yes. Yes. Yes! THAT IS ME 100%.

I made sure to emphasize the word "possible" to never use punishment, b/c in reality and can and do slip up and i know that will always happen occasionally and i need to give myself permission to do so. I tell myself that so long as the punitive moments are few and far between they will be okay and not internalize those as models for dealing with conflict.
post #49 of 188
I really question the value of punishment for adults. I'm not sure it's an effective deterrent for the most horrific crimes. I mean, how many people actually avoid committing murder just because of the potential punishment? I think generally you either have other reasons for not wanting to kill people, or you're so disturbed that you don't stop to think rationally about your odds of getting caught and punished.

I do think we need to do what we can to ensure that rapists and murderers don't get the chance to claim more victims - but I'm not sure there's any good reason to punish them. Lock them up, sure, if that's the only way to protect ourselves from them. But if they could be locked up in a place that was actually pleasant to live in (at a cost that was affordable to taxpayers), I'd be all for that. Punishment for the sake of retribution seems pointless to me.

Is punishment the best way to ensure people do the smaller things that benefit society - pay taxes, refrain from shoplifting or speeding, comply with environmental regulations? I'm not sure. The threat of punishment clearly doesn't work for everyone all the time. I suspect other techniques that work to change public opinion or reward compliance might be at least as effective.

I also question whether so many things ought to be punishable offenses. Perhaps people should be free to decide for themselves whether or not to wear a motorcycle helmet or smoke marijuana.
post #50 of 188
Quote:
I wonder if the people who are advocating for no punishment are against it for everyone, or just children? If those who advocate for no rules mean no rules for everyone, or just children?
Is anyone advocating for "no rules"? I didn't read that--maybe I missed something.

We don't do punishments in our family. From my experience, it is not the most effective tool for teaching, and possibly even shuts one down to learning, so we don't do it. I think that discipline is a learned skill, like reading or math. Punishment wouldn't be something I would do to help my child learn math, for example. I don't think it's any more effective when trying to help your child learn to be gentle with a pet.

I really like this quote from the Gentle Discipline forum guidlines:
Effective discipline is based on loving guidance. It is based on the belief that children are born innately good and that our role as parents is to nurture their spirits as they learn about limits and boundaries, rather than to curb their tendencies toward wrongdoing. Effective discipline presumes that children have reasons for their behavior and that cooperation can be engaged to solve shared problems.

With society as a whole our goals are a bit different. We are not trying to teach, we are trying to maintain order and keep people safe. Personally, I don't think punishments really work all that well even for society at large. Frenchie's example illustrates this perfectly. Her step father continued to drink and drive despite the dui's and loosing his driver's license--maybe they should have tried treatment for his drinking problem.
post #51 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanish Rose View Post
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.
Yes, I see the logic of this. There are plenty of things that we feel we have to do that are unpleasant for ds (and for us!) without saying "I'm punishing you." The hustling the kid out the door thing is a really good example.

I believe in interrupting certain kinds of behavior--anything dangerous, for example. You just have to stop that behavior, right there. Up until now, we haven't used punishment on top of that because--hey, it's already a pain to say "you aren't being safe with the scissors so I'm taking them away." It feels like a punishment to him so why also impose a punishment?

Don't know how this is going to go for us as he gets older. I don't see any positive effect of time outs or loss of privileges with most of the children we know.

I admit that sometimes if my son is about to do something I think will have bad consequences, I will say "If you do this and such and such happens, I will reproach you." He really doesn't like reproach. But I'm not sure I like how this is working for me, and I might stop.
post #52 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
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.)
It would never occur to me that pulling the biting baby off the breast is punishment. I consider that self protection and being a person with reasonable personal boundaries. To me this is no more punishment than it would be to move out of the way of a person about to step on you. If you were say pulling a baby who was nursing in a way that didn't hurt you off the breast in order to teach them a lesson about how they weren't nice to the cat earlier, yes, that would be punishment.
post #53 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by frenchie View Post
Never a need for punishment, ever...for everybody? I so strongly disagree.
What do you expect we do with murderers, child molesters, rapists, thieves, child abusers...the whole lot of people that are in our jails and prisons...and those on their way? Reason with them and let them know what they did was wrong, then send them on their way?
Do you feel like as long as these folks are punished, then they will no longer commit crimes and you will be safe? It reminds me of the parent who says I spank my kid so they won't run in the street. I wonder would they feel safe leaving their child unsupervised by the street after they'd been spanked because punishment works that well to deter misbehavior? If punishment worked so well we wouldn't have people committing crimes after they'd already served time.
post #54 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
To me, punishment is something aversive that you do after a behavior occurs that makes that behavior less likely to occur in the future.
I was thinking last night about this. It seems to me that the intent of the parent does have something to do with whether I consider something punishment or not. (I realize that is not what you were saying exactly, but hear me out...)
So if I pick up my ds when he runs away from me in the store, and my *intention* is to teach him to not run away next time by making the consequence of running away negative for him, it's not likely that I would be willing to work with him to make being held agreeable to him. That would seem more likely to be a punishment to me, and I would *assume* for my ds as well.
If I pick him up, and my SOLE intention is to keep him close to me to keep him safe, I have no desire for this interaction to "teach him a lesson" so that he'll be less likely to run away next time, I'm really likely to do everything I can to make the situation as positive for him as possible. That would not seem like punishment to me, and I would hope that ds doesn't experience it as punishment, even if it does suck for him.
I know that's not what psychologist refer to as "punishment" (because that definition depends on the actual outcome, right?).
I don't want ds to "learn a lesson" from those negative experiences. He'll learn what he learns, of course. And that's why I only resort to those types of actions when it really is necessary for the safety of someone or their property (well, I guess my toys r us example in the other thread wasn't for someone's safety. hmmm...).

I think punishment teaches the totally wrong things. It hinders learning of the real reasons, and it reinforces kids to act for self centered reasons.

But I still think that I can consider myself a "non punisher" even though I would carry ds against his will, if I can't find another way to keep him close to me.

Quote:
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.
I think that's the "easiest" way to use the term punishment. And its the use that most people probably mean when they say "we don't punish." Because, really, its evident from this conversation that a lot of us can't get to the point where we don't do anything negative to our dc ever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bluefish View Post
We do not hurt people or animals.
That is a strict rule here. Actually the only real rule that stays true all the time. Not only do we not hurt people or animals, I go even further and don't allow ds to do things that annoy our dogs. He can't pet their fur backwards if it bothers them. He can't pet them (even gently) when they want to be left alone. I take their rights very seriously, and I am the one who needs to defend their rights.
I've never had any situation that called for punishment. I give him information and acceptable ways to express his particular impulse, and he uses the better way in the future.
I don't think punishment would teach him to be respectful to the dogs, or to even care what they like or don't like him to do. It might teach him that he better not hit, because he doesn't want a time out or whatever.
I've "punished" him for hitting me before (by leaving the room, etc). None of it did a dang bit of good. As soon as I realized the answer was to honor his impulse, and give him an acceptable way to express it, it only took a couple times, and the hitting stopped completely- he used the acceptable ways to express those impulses.

So for me, not only is punishment NOT necessary, but it is counter productive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
That's a really good point, frenchie. I wonder if the people who are advocating for no punishment are against it for everyone, or just children? If those who advocate for no rules mean no rules for everyone, or just children?
Wait, who advocated no rules? I see people advocating no punishments, but I don't see anywhere people advocating no rules.

Children are children. They are born innately social. They want to behave in a socially acceptable manner, if they are able.
Sometimes, that gets screwed up along the way (by parents, by peers, whatever), which is why there are some adults who are NOT social (in the sense that they do the right things for the right reasons).
Adults are adults, and kids are kids. Kids are still learning about the world, about what is socially acceptable, and how to control their impulses. They need to be taught and gently guided to be able to gain that knowledge and those skills. (and imo, punishing does not equal teaching).
post #55 of 188
Holy moly, Sunnysideup. I was typing while you posted. Are you in my head or something? lol
If I had waited a few minutes, I could have saved myself all the typing and just said :
post #56 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 see how this isn't an example of an imposed consequence. Just because you are using gentle words and explanations, the child is being physically removed from a situation he doesn't want to be physically removed from. You are imposing your desire to leave on your child.

I have no problem with this, by the way, and it's the way I parent in situations like that. However, if you are going to include imposed consequences under the punishment label, I don't see how this example supports the claim that this wouldn't be punishment.
post #57 of 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mpenny1001 View Post
I don't see how this isn't an example of an imposed consequence. Just because you are using gentle words and explanations, the child is being physically removed from a situation he doesn't want to be physically removed from. You are imposing your desire to leave on your child.

I have no problem with this, by the way, and it's the way I parent in situations like that. However, if you are going to include imposed consequences under the punishment label, I don't see how this example supports the claim that this wouldn't be punishment.
I'm really interested in this type of thinking. I still don't see that as a punishment. I do see what people are saying, but it still doesn't set in my head as "carrying child out of the park" = punishment.
And I do agree that using pretty words isn't what makes or breaks it. But the words do tend to convey the intention, and how exactly it is carried out, and the parent's meaning behind it. And yes, I do think that does affect how dc perceive it. Not that they hear the nice words and are like "oh, ok, this is GREAT" or anything. But it seems quite likely that they would hear those words and the tone, and NOT have the thought "I did something bad, and now mom is doing a mean thing because of it."
Punishment for what offense exactly? And what is it trying to teach?
When I do something like that, there's no offense that resulted in the carrying away. Yeah, he wouldn't leave willingly, but even if he had willingly walked away, he could still well have been UPSET at having to leave the park.
And I'm not trying to teach him anything. All I'm trying to do is leave the park. My intention isn't "ok, my carrying him is going to suck so much, that next time he'll leave willingly because he'll want to avoid being carried at all costs." What about "being carried" is inherently negative? kwim?

(I'm not arguing with you, I'm just trying to expand on this thought)

eta- if we go by the definition of punishment "1 a : to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense, or violation b : to inflict a penalty for the commission of (an offense) in retribution or retaliation"
then for a person to feel they were being "punished" they'd have to know that there was an *offense* that they were being punished for.
If running away in the store, or wanting to stay at the park, isn't treated as an *offense* then the resulting action can't be a punishment, can it? (honestly asking that question- it was a thought that just now occured to me, so I haven't thought much on it)
post #58 of 188
punishment puts too much focus on the child. i don't use it because i would rather they think of other people.

also i think it's silly to say that no punishment = no rules. we have rules, just because we dont use punishments doesn't mean we don't have rules.
post #59 of 188
We don't punish in terms of using timeouts, spankings, etc. But we do use imposed consequences. I have taken my daughter off my breast for biting me and hitting me, I have put toys up that were used to hurt someone, and I have had to physically put my child in a car seat while she was screaming because she wouldn't get in it herself (and after standing outside in zero degree weather for 60 seconds waiting for her to do it herself, my patience had worn to nothing).

All of those actions I am sure seemed like punishment to them (as I think people within 5 miles could hear them screaming) but to me, they are a consequence of their actions.

I do use a lot of communication, but I find that sometimes, the more I talk, the worse it gets. It also gives my DS an idea that if he keeps trying to negotiate with me and I keep talking that he has a chance of getting his way. So sometimes I say "I understand how you feel, and I have heard you, but I am not discussing this anymore."

So for me, I do think that "punishment" is sometimes necessary. And I put it in quotes because I don't really think of it as punishment, but on MDC I know that consequences can seem like punishment to some.
post #60 of 188
How do you enforce rules without *some* form of punishment?
I mean, in my house, we use the word 'consequences' but in another household they might use the word 'punishment' for the same stuff.

I really don't have many rules at all in my house because I want home to be a place where everyone feels free to be themselves. But I do have to enforce rules about invading eachother's personal space. That's basically it. And also 'rules' about taking everyone's needs into account (like for example if we have to go grocery shopping or something, everyone needs to get their shoes on and come to the car..stuff like that).
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