Is child punishment ever necessary? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 170 Old 07-31-2013, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm a big fan of Alfie Kohn and I really try to avoid punishment in any circumstance. I say "try to" because I don't intentionally punish but life seems to punish from time to time and it isn't always practical or possible to stop it, and I feel like by not intervening more there's still some punishment going on. I do intervene when I can and it isn't impractical, but I don't go crazy trying to keep anything bad from happening. I do feel like "natural consequences" if I could easily keep them from happening are still a kind of punishment I guess and I work to avoid that but I have mixed results.

But anyway, I do try not to punish, at least I actively try to avoid it and look for other ways to handle problems. Does anyone else try to avoid punishing? Do you think it's unrealistic to not punish? Do you think it's possible? Is punishment necessary in some circumstances?
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#2 of 170 Old 07-31-2013, 07:15 PM
 
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For our family, it was not necessary.
I go by the principle that children are people, and I wouldn't treat them any differently than I would want to be treated.
So I don't do naughty step, 1, 2, 3 magic, stickers, or any method that would put me in control of their behaviour.

Agree with you mamazee, sometimes it's difficult to see the difference between punishment and consequence. Consequence seems to be the new trendy word in child rearing books; I even read recently instructions on how to "issue" a consequence... obviously, if you have to "issue" one, we're talking about punishment.

When i'm in doubt, i think of Barbara Coloroso's definition: punishment is used to control kids' behaviour and make them mind.

But conequences are necessary, sometimes it's the only way they learn. "No dinner until you wash your hands!" My 3 y.o. refused today and I just put an empty plate in front of her, so she ran to the bathroom to wash her hands.
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#3 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 11:23 AM
 
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short of sending me to Kohn's website, can you explain the premise? I'm big into respecting my kids. I think of them as little people, but punishment is inherent in my life as an adult… if I pick my nose in public, nobody will shake my hand, and they will tell other people I am gross. If I speed, I get a ticket. That statement about punishment versus consequence may be the linchpin here. But I feel that part of parenting is to "create" consequences. If I don't do so, or punish for unacceptable behavior, the punishment that the world at large hands out will be much less respectful and measured… and at some point I can't intervene.
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#4 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 12:34 PM
 
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For us it's "discipline". It can't be an arbitrary "you behaved contrary to my will and now you will be punished!". It's "This is what I expect of you. This is the reminder of what I expect of you. This is what the consequence will be." *then* there's the consequence. Especially for things like staying out of the street, don't touch the stove, so on. That's loving them. 

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#5 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 12:36 PM
 
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Communication is key and I have found that the tools for loving communications are in Positive Discipline from Dr.Jane Nelson. Her methods are respectful, attached, kind and firm. 
 

There are 6 session classes all over the world and they make a difference. Worth checking out. 

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#6 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 01:03 PM
 
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But conequences are necessary, sometimes it's the only way they learn. "No dinner until you wash your hands!" My 3 y.o. refused today and I just put an empty plate in front of her, so she ran to the bathroom to wash her hands.

That is brilliant. Thanks so much for that. 

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#7 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 01:14 PM
 
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I am somewhere inbetween mindsets. Definitely interested in hearing more mama thoughts on this. This is a great topic to discuss! 

 

I will say that I am painfully aware of children who obviously are allowed to do whatever they want with no consequences. I don't think that is to be admired, and I find those children to be incredibly unappealing. I don't OVER discipline, but there are definite consequences to negative choices. I am an if_____than_____ parent. If you can't use table manners, you will leave the table. If you cannot speak to me with respect, you will go sit on your bed. If you don't help me to clean up the toys, you will not get to choose a story for me to read. If you don't keep your hands off of your sister, I will have to separate you. That sort of thing. I also really believe in talking about feelings. "You know, when you told me that I was stupid, it really made me feel frustrated because I really don't like that word." And there are definite consequences to using a word like stupid that we have decided does not belong in our home. And of course, there is some behaviour (unless it hurts others) that is ok to ignore because it is meant to get negative attention and I would MUCH rather give them positive attention. I love randomly grabbing my children and hugging them tight and saying, "Do you have any idea how incredibly special you are? Mama loves you SO much!"

 

P.S. an above poster said that they don't use sticker charts because they like to treat their children like people. We have used sticker charts for things and given rewards and you know what, it worked WONDERFULLY to work towards better habits. Children are people, but they are at a different level in life than grownups, and I think it is perfectly fine for a child and a grownup to have a different way of reaching goals. We are different. I think it is important actually for children to know that children and adults are different. 

 

It is a fine line. I don't want my children to walk on egg shells or feel angry because they are being punished all the time, but I do want them to grow up to know that there are consequences, and that I do expect positive behaviour and good manners and that in life they will always get better results with positive behaviour. 


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#8 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 01:15 PM
 
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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.

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#9 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 01:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Nightwish View Post

For our family, it was not necessary.
I go by the principle that children are people, and I wouldn't treat them any differently than I would want to be treated.
So I don't do naughty step, 1, 2, 3 magic, stickers, or any method that would put me in control of their behaviour.

 

I just wanted to interject and say that a sticker chart definitely gives a child in control, which is why it is effective in some cases. I don't know about the other methods you mentioned but I have used a sticker chart for nighttime choices and got great results with children who felt great about the outcomes. In fact, they designed it. We took a piece of black construction paper and for each child there was a line with boxes. They cut out yellow moons (some full moons and some half) and they were in control of it. I didn't make a big deal either way. In the morning we would check in and they would tell me what they earned for themselves. If they slept through the night in their beds without waking us (unless they needed help changing their sheets or something big like that) they got a half moon and if they had good morning manners (let everyone else sleep) they got another half moon. So some mornings they rewarded themselves a half moon, sometimes a full and rarely none. They were in charge of glueing the moon on in the morning, and they chose the reward. After ten moons they got an icecream sunday night. I will tell you, we only did it twice, and we never shamed them if they didn't get a moon. 

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#10 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 01:28 PM
 
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Sometimes there is an immediate action that you desire to achieve and sometimes you can ask questions.

The empowerment opportunity exists in the form of asking for what you want , instead of telling your kids what to do.

For example, ask your child: What do you need to to before you eat so your hands are not icky and dirty? 

And if your kiddo needs a little connection before you "ask, not tell" maybe say something like...

'I bet you had fun playing in the dirt -- What do you need to do before eating so your hands are ready to use for dinner?" 
 

Even though these questions are not as quick and easy as just telling  our kids what to do, there are long term benefits to using coaching questions when conditions are safe and daily skills are desired.joy.gif

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#11 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 01:35 PM
 
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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 really felt good about his take on parent/child relationships. My upbringing of course gets in the way all the time. I want to treat my children with respect and trust that they will make decisions that are socially acceptable, but I find myself getting frustrated and lecturing, yelling, reprimanding at certain times of the month and during tired, stressful times. I work on this every day as I believe in peaceful parenting.
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#12 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 01:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by alexisfaye View Post

short of sending me to Kohn's website, can you explain the premise? I'm big into respecting my kids. I think of them as little people, but punishment is inherent in my life as an adult… if I pick my nose in public, nobody will shake my hand, and they will tell other people I am gross. If I speed, I get a ticket. That statement about punishment versus consequence may be the linchpin here. But I feel that part of parenting is to "create" consequences. If I don't do so, or punish for unacceptable behavior, the punishment that the world at large hands out will be much less respectful and measured… and at some point I can't intervene.

Alfie Kohn believes that punishment and rewards (as rewards are like the flip coin of punishments, a punishment in reverse) teach children to do things for external reasons rather than internal reasons, and that they can make children feel like our love for them is conditional. He has a book called Unconditional Parenting that I read and I enjoyed.

I don't personally feel like they are NECESSARY to create children who are pleasant to be around (and mine are quite nice, even the younger one although she has a pretty easy personality anyway) but I don't think using punishment necessarily makes children feel that they aren't unconditionally loved either. Maybe harsh and frequent punishments, but not punishment the way I've heard moms here talk about them.

He writes a great deal about schools and education, and also doesn't like competition in schools or praise of the "good job" sort.

I guess overall his idea is that we should always "work with" kids rather than "do to" kids. Look at what is happening behind the behavior instead of focusing on the behavior.
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#13 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 02:19 PM
 
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I have a question: I always try to not use punishment, but yesterday my son punched the TV with his fist! He's three. My husband really wants to tell him he can't watch TV for the rest of the day if he hits or throws anything at it because it is so dangerous. I'm not comfortable with this. I spoke with our DS and so did my husband. He seemed to grasp why it's not a good idea to hit the TV and he said he was sorry. What do you guys think? I don't want to hijack the thread but this is along the same lines we are discussing here. I'm happy to start a new thread if you think I should, mamazee. :-)

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#14 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Didn't it hurt his hand? It seems like that would keep him from doing it again. With one of my kids, we put a bit of a barricade in front of the TV for a while when she was rough with it, but we didn't punish.

I think it's fine to ask here but you might get more responses if you start a fresh thread. Go with what feels right as far as that goes. smile.gif
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#15 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 03:33 PM
 
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We've always had three house rules posted on the wall:  Be kind, Be truthful.  Show respect.  If there is a behavior that is repetitive and goes against one of these rules the person with the behavior writes the behavior they would like to practice for the week (with help if too young) and what they are going to do if they're having trouble following the behavior.  An example:

 

"I will speak calmly when I'm angry."

 

if I can't I will...

 

"Go sit in my room until I'm calm."

 

This is literally what my 5 year old has written for this week.  She's had to come back to this behavior a few times in her life, but it works because she is in control of the change, not me.  The child has to come up with the plan for this to work.

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#16 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 05:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by alexisfaye View Post

short of sending me to Kohn's website, can you explain the premise? I'm big into respecting my kids. I think of them as little people, but punishment is inherent in my life as an adult… if I pick my nose in public, nobody will shake my hand, and they will tell other people I am gross. If I speed, I get a ticket. That statement about punishment versus consequence may be the linchpin here. But I feel that part of parenting is to "create" consequences. If I don't do so, or punish for unacceptable behavior, the punishment that the world at large hands out will be much less respectful and measured… and at some point I can't intervene.


The difference between your example (getting a ticket for speeding - which is indeed punishment) and punishing your child for "misbehaving", is that I don't have (nor do I want to have) a relationship with the policeman who fines me, but I do have and want a relationship with my child. A better example would be: would I want my husband to punish me because I didn't do something he asked - even if it's a reasonable request... Let's imagine, for the sake of comparison that he asks me to pick him up from work, as he's not driving, and I refuse. A punishment would be that he takes away my computer or locks me in my room (which is silly and/or disrespectful). A consequence would be that next time when I want a favour from him, he won't be so happy to oblige.


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#17 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 06:01 PM
 
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P.S. an above poster said that they don't use sticker charts because they like to treat their children like people. We have used sticker charts for things and given rewards and you know what, it worked WONDERFULLY to work towards better habits. Children are people, but they are at a different level in life than grownups, and I think it is perfectly fine for a child and a grownup to have a different way of reaching goals. We are different. I think it is important actually for children to know that children and adults are different. 

 

It is a fine line. I don't want my children to walk on egg shells or feel angry because they are being punished all the time, but I do want them to grow up to know that there are consequences, and that I do expect positive behaviour and good manners and that in life they will always get better results with positive behaviour. 

To respond to your observation, stickers and rewards don't sit well *with me*. I have NO DOUBT that they work. Many things work as far as discipline is concerned, but I still wouldn't do them. What I mean by treating them as people, is that I wouldn't give a sticker or a reward to my dh or my parents or my friends for behaving in what I deem acceptable manner, so I wouldn't do it to my children.

 

(Not saying that I find the method reprehensible. I tried once or twice but quickly gave up *because* it worked. I didn't like the feeling that ds was so excited to please me and make sure that I saw he was behaving the way I requested. I wanted him to do the right thing because it's right, not because I'm watching or he gets a golden star for it.)

 

Again, not saying that what I do is the right and only way to discipline. Just my point of view.


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#19 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 06:20 PM
 
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First off, let me clarify that the unconditional/gentle parenting model is not a permissive model. Aha Parenting has a great article on this.

 

Let's take the sandbox situation above. In Alfie Kohn-land you absolutely would intervene and not allow the boy to hit the baby. But, rather than forcing an apology or a secluded time-out, the caregiver would take a "time in" with the child and find out the reason behind the action and then coach the child to address that appropriately, for example: use words like, "You are in my way. Please move," ask adult for help if the baby doesn't respond, take a deep breath to calm down, move yourself since we cannot move others, etc.

 

My 2.5 year-old just finished up a nasty aggressive phase. Bad. Like biting and shoving strangers, as well as his baby brother. When we dug at the issue we discovered several things: his baby brother is teething and demonstrating biting and crawling and getting into his stuff, he is going through an oral phase although he has all of his teeth and he just needs something to chew on, he has been feeling angry (normal for the age) and did not know how to articulate it. Rather than punish him, we kept both he and his brother safe when the angry moments welled up while we talked it through. We got some kids' book on anger and read them together. We practiced using words to ask an adult for help to calm down. We sent him to playdates with "biting keys" so he could bite those instead of others, we practiced yelling, "I'm angry," we practiced deep breathing, etc. Eventually he chilled out.

 

In all honesty, the biting phase may have taken 2-3 weeks to get through with spanking, or time outs, or gentle discipline. But, with our method we walked away with a little boy who is growing life skills that he can use on his own rather than needing an adult to patrol him.  He can now recognize and articulate his feelings a bit better. He knows that even when he messes up, we'll still face life together. In watching me stay calm, he saw a real-life example of what it looks like when we deal with anger through articulation instead of force. (I assure you, it was VERY hard to stay calm! I grew a lot, too.) Also, we got to experience the joy of hearing genuine, unprompted apologies--another skill he got to learn.

 

When I first started reading Kohn, I couldn't palate him. But, the more I see his method work not only on my kids but the kids I work with professionally, I get more and more on board.

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#20 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 06:25 PM
 
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I love natural consequences but they aren't always effective or practical in every situation. My 2 year old absolutely hates holding our hand when we are walking outside. We don't usually make her if we feel like it's a safe enough environment but if we are in a busy shopping center parking lot we simply cannot allow her to make her own choice in this context. She has to either hold our hand, or be carried, or sit in the shopping cart. She may not roam freely about the parking lot (which is the ONLY choice that she is happy with). I'm not sure if it's considered "punishment" to make her do something she doesn't want to do (she is all the while kicking and screaming and throwing a tantrum because we don't allow her to walk freely) but that is what we have to do in that situation. 

We did start giving her the freedom to walk down the driveway on her own and climb into the car seat on her own, she was doing really well with it but recently she got a wild hair and decided to take off running as fast as she could possibly run, she bolted into the street and we were literally chasing her down the middle of the street. When I caught her she had her freedom taken away and had to get carried (kicking and screaming) to her car seat. That is the kind of behavior where we cannot rely on natural consequences...We have to enforce a consequence (which is that she has lost the privilege of walking independently to the car until we decide she should have another chance to show that control). Yes, we still had a calm discussion with her (once she calmed down) and told her that she scared mommy and that she needs to always stop when mommy says stop so that mommy can keep her safe...but that talk alone isn't going to keep her from doing it again, she's not there yet. She's not ready to handle that kind of freedom (I've heard some people say things like "listen to your child and they will tell you what they want, what they need, what they are ready for etc..." well, I'm sorry but a 2 year old does not have the capacity to know when they are mentally and developmentally ready to walk with discretion out into the middle of the street--when they take off running down the middle of that street as you are telling them to stop--they are telling you that they aren't ready for that kind of responsibility). 

In my opinion that is one of the core principle's of parenting...yes they deserve to be treated with love, respect and kindness but they are also immature and irresponsible (we all start out that way, it's not a flaw or an insult-it's simply they way we start out) and until they can exercise certain amounts of self control and good judgement we have to keep them safe and lovingly enforce boundaries and yes sometimes even consequences. I don't see that as crushing their spirit or treating them as "lesser" beings than ourselves. It's preparing and equipping them for the world that we live in. It's the same for adults...there are certain boundaries and limits that we are expected to live by and if we choose not to, we will have consequences (some natural, others enforced) and that's just the way it is and the same goes for rewards. If my husband is respectful to his boss, shows up to work on time, & performs his responsibilities to the best of his ability he will probably get to keep his job and likely be rewarded with a pay raise at his annual review. If he decides that he doesn't feel like being around people this week because he needs some "me time" and doesn't show up to work, or if he decides that he wants to stay up until 2:00 a.m. and then the next day realizes that he really needs to catch up on his sleep and shows up to work at 11:00 a.m. he won't be working there very much longer.  And I do believe he wants to have a relationship with his boss. A professional one, but still a relationship indeed. If that relationship is terminated then it would be a trickle effect of consequences (loss of job for him, not a good reference making it difficult to find another job, financial hardship on his family which in turn can create stress in the marriage....you get the idea....and all because he acted on his feelings rather than doing what he was "expected" to do from an authority figure)

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#21 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 06:31 PM
 
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After raising two daughters, I say NO.

 

What is important is to give children consequences of their actions, so they have real learning. Examples: "You took your seat belt off. I don't drive unless every one is wearing their seat belt. I have stopped the car and will wait until you put your seat belt on to keep driving." "I told you that if you slammed your bedroom door one more time, I would take it away. As you just slammed your bedroom door again, I am now taking it off the hinges."  "I don't feel like going out now, because the kitchen is a mess. If you help me clean it up, we can go out sooner."

 

No threats. No punishments. Real consequences.

 

Always keep in mind that small children need lots of good food often, because they are growing and their metabolism is faster than adults. No one behaves well when hungry or tired or thirsty.

 

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#22 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 07:33 PM
 
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What if you can't stop the car and wait for them to make the right choice? I can't always pull over in our metro area. We have tollways that cost money to get on and off of, traffic jams, and other circumstances where you literally cannot just pull over.

 

In the situation where I "Could" pull over, I don't always have the time to wait for my children to choose safety over fun. If we are going to the doctor, or to another appointment that we are expected to be at promptly I doubt my kids would care if I started driving again anytime soon. Just saying, it can't always be about them and their "right to choose". I for one would not have the respect of anyone in my life if I constantly made it "all about my kids" and showed a disregard for other peoples valuable time. And I would feel like the only thing that I was teaching my kids would be that they are in control of not only themselves but of me as well. 

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#23 of 170 Old 08-01-2013, 08:01 PM
 
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I try to avoid punishment.  But that doesn't mean I let my kids do whatever they want.  I often insist that they do what I want them to do (brush their teeth, pick up their clothes, take a shower.)  Sometimes when I'm trying to get my kid to do something he doesn't want to do I find myself saying, "Do X or Y will happen" because it feels like I need that threat to motivate the kid.  But actually, I've found that it works just as well if I leave off the threat and just continue to insist that I need the kid to do X. 

 

If my kid does something I find unacceptable, I may not punish him but that doesn't mean I just ignore the behavior and let him keep doing it all he wants.  If my kid hit another kid with a shovel, you can bet I'd stop that right away, let the kid know it was totally unacceptable, and do what I could to make sure it didn't happen again.  But I can do all that without imposing any punishment.  I think punishing a kid often just makes him feel sorry for himself and/or angry about the punishment and takes the focus away from the wrongness of what he did and how it affected other people.

 

Of course, when my kid does something like hit another kid, he does usually end up getting punished in a way, even if I don't deliberately impose a punishment like timeout or leaving the park.  If I get mad, or act shocked or disappointed, that's a punishment.  And that kind of punishment is really unavoidable.  Some of the things your kids do are going to make you mad and you're not always going to be able to hide it.  You probably wouldn't want to hide it even if you could.  Kids need to learn how other people feel about being hit, or having their things broken, or being lied to.  I suppose you could say your angry reaction is a natural consequence and not a punishment, but it has the same effect as a punishment.

 

For anyone who's skeptical about the no-punishment, no-reward idea, but interested enough to want to read more about it, I highly recommend Unconditional Parenting.  It made a lot of sense to me.

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#24 of 170 Old 08-02-2013, 04:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by breastbabyclc View Post

What if you can't stop the car and wait for them to make the right choice? I can't always pull over in our metro area. We have tollways that cost money to get on and off of, traffic jams, and other circumstances where you literally cannot just pull over.

In the situation where I "Could" pull over, I don't always have the time to wait for my children to choose safety over fun. If we are going to the doctor, or to another appointment that we are expected to be at promptly I doubt my kids would care if I started driving again anytime soon. Just saying, it can't always be about them and their "right to choose". I for one would not have the respect of anyone in my life if I constantly made it "all about my kids" and showed a disregard for other peoples valuable time. And I would feel like the only thing that I was teaching my kids would be that they are in control of not only themselves but of me as well. 

In circumstances like that, when I feel that something *has* to be done I offer the choices "do you want to do it or shall I do it for you?" It still gives them some control but makes it clear that the action is not a negotiable one. And I only ask the question once, I don't spend 5 minutes asking her. If she says "do it myself" then I say "ok, off you go" or some similar prompt. If she doesn't do it then I immediately do it for her, no further discussion.
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#25 of 170 Old 08-02-2013, 05:51 AM
 
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Teaching consequences also means respecting your feelings as well as theirs. "I don't want to go to the movie anymore; I don't feel like it after our last discussion. Go find something else to do this evening. I want to do other things."

 

It also means children seeing you upset with consequences. "Why is daddy in a bad mood?"   "He got a speeding ticket."

 

On one of our neighorhood streets, I did stop on the road instantly. Cars piled up behind us. Tension rose. "I can't drive unless everyone has their seatbelt on." She eventually put hers on, although it felt like it took hours, it was probably 60 seconds. 

 

There is nothing easy or perfect about raising little humans; humans are complex, no matter what their age. Child raising is about bringing children into a social structure; they have to be supported in this (making sure they are fed, watered, and rested). 

 

I insisted that my toddler hold my hand in the parking lot, otherwise she could end up like "mashed potatoes".  Having seen me make mashed potatoes, this analogy made sense to her, and she made a little song, "No mashed potatoes Vanessa" as she reached for my hand.

 

With my oldest, and my nearly obsessive desire to be the perfect mother that my own mother was not, I believed that if I met her needs, she would naturally grow up to be perfect person. I thought if I set boundaries, she would feel about me the way I felt about my own mother. HAH! We are still both recovering from that, decades later. With my second, I learned to be comfortable setting boundaries, and reacting appropriately if they were broken. 

 

When boundaries are clear and reasonable, there are consequences for breaking them. This is different to punishment for not breaking them. I drive at a safe speed through neighborhoods because I value safety, not because I am afraid of a ticket. 

 

I think that homeschooling also helped with my second; my first went through the school system that adds a degree of tension, worry, and lack of respect to life. With my oldest, I gave her a mental health day every month. She could choose to stay home one day a month if she felt like it. I didn't pretend that her teachers were wonderful and that all the work made sense. 

 

Speaking truth with a loving heart makes relationships easier. And, I have to say, there is a degree of luck.


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#26 of 170 Old 08-02-2013, 06:15 AM
 
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As parenting is so individual, there is never one recipe. You evolve your own style, based on so many things. I am sharing some of the things that I did. 

 

When I made a mistake, I took responsibility for it. That is important for children to see. I also referred to myself as "I" when I was talking with my children, because it always bothered me when a mother would say to her chlild "Give it to mommy" when she meant "Give it to me". I never understood the value of speaking about one's self in the 3rd person as part of daily discourse. Perhaps this is confusing to a child?

 

Picking battles is important. I only ever disagreed enough to protest about a few outfits my daughters wanted to wear. 99% of the time, they wore what they wanted from the clothes I bought them. They were the ones that had to deal with the consequence of how they were perceived, not me. I would fight about the seat belt though.

 

Maybe fighting for an important principle is different to punishment? 

 

I've seen a mother buffalo kick her calf away from her when it kept banging its head on her udder. There was no punishment, just a swift and proportionate reaction. My second baby kept biting me when nursing. She was about  7 months old. She wouldn't stop. I tried everything that La Leche League and all my friends suggested. It didn't work. Finally, one day I swatted her on the thigh after a bite, like swatting a fly away. No threat, just immediate and appropriate reaction. This got her attention. She never bit me again. I was desperate to get her to stop because I wanted to keep our breastfeeding relationship going and nothing was working. My reaction worked and we nursed for over 5 years. 

 

Maybe we need a definition of punishment in this dialogue,  because the words "never" and "always" are such extreme ones?

 

@NikkiLeeHeatlh

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#27 of 170 Old 08-02-2013, 08:14 AM
 
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 a teen kicked a ball that hit a teacher in the face and the teacher fell . the teen ran away , why 

parents and teachers are the last to know if kids screw up - why 

 

because punishment teaches kids to be immoral and not be caught - moral behavior means offering the teacher help , the fear of punishment teaches otherwise 

 

in a world of values , parents and teachers should be there for kids to help them get back on track , solve problems in a collaborative way and encourage them to engage in an autonomous way in the moral act of restitution or making amends instead of imposing consequences on them . Punishment does not help kids to ask what type of person I want to be , instead what's it it for me , what pays - the real world is full of people - enron - etc who think of the consequences for themselves , usually a quick buck . How do you want to prepare your kids for the real world - give them the skills to articulate their concerns and perspectives, engage in collaborative problem solving finding mutually satisfying solutions or being compliant because of punishment . Imho giving kids cps skills and how to foster trust and relationships would help them in the real world more than teaching compliance.

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#28 of 170 Old 08-02-2013, 08:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by breastbabyclc View Post

What if you can't stop the car and wait for them to make the right choice? I can't always pull over in our metro area. We have tollways that cost money to get on and off of, traffic jams, and other circumstances where you literally cannot just pull over.

 

In the situation where I "Could" pull over, I don't always have the time to wait for my children to choose safety over fun. If we are going to the doctor, or to another appointment that we are expected to be at promptly I doubt my kids would care if I started driving again anytime soon. Just saying, it can't always be about them and their "right to choose". I for one would not have the respect of anyone in my life if I constantly made it "all about my kids" and showed a disregard for other peoples valuable time. And I would feel like the only thing that I was teaching my kids would be that they are in control of not only themselves but of me as well. 

If it's a safety issue, it would be all about my kids.  Buy anyway.....

 

First I would try to pull over, or stop, even in traffic if it's safe enough.  If not, then I would channel my grandfather and not mince words.  "If we get into an accident with you unbuckled you will fly through the front window and be dead."  Assuming, of course, it is the likely scenario, not stop-and-go or slow traffic in which case I would use equally dire but more likely scenarios.  AND you will not get to ride in the car next time.  However inconvenient it is for me, I will wait until I can drive without you in the car to do my errands.

 

This is probably "punishment" because it's being threatened and not a direct consequence.  ???  But it is absolutely genuine and connected.  It doesn't matter to me whether semantics fall on the side of "consequence" or "punishment" here.  Certainly making momma scared enough to shriek her lungs out has to be a natural consequence!  But if this scenario is punishment, well, I'm OK with that.  

 

Is it ever necessary?  First you would have to parse out the definition with exactness, and I personally doubt that's possible.

 

ETA: In the park scenario mentioned, I would absolutely fall on the side of a time-in.  But what if the behavior doesn't stop after mommy so lovingly steps in?  I'd leave the park.  With the kid, of course.  But what if she doesn't want to come and physically protests?  It's all about what to do when they don't comply and don't comply and then... don't comply!


"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
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#29 of 170 Old 08-02-2013, 09:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think it's worth noting again that not punishing doesn't mean not having any boundaries. It just means not enforcing boundaries with punishment. "We will eat after you wash your hands" isn't a punishment, but "If you don't wash your hands you won't get any dessert after dinner" is. You can see why I said that what is a punishment gets confusing though, which is why I said I try not to punish and don't set out to punish, because just living life includes stuff happening kids don't want and I'm sure they feel punished by things I don't intend as punishment.

But my kids don't run free. They have plenty of expectations. I just don't enforce those expectations by punishing when they don't do what I want, or threatening a punishment, or even rewarding when they do something I do want. I don't drive the car if someone's seat belt isn't fastened. That is simple safety. If I said, "If you don't fasten your seatbelt by the time I count to three, we won't go to the movie" then it would be a punishment. But I'd feel fine just waiting until a seatbelt was fastened. I certainly wouldn't drive a car if one of my kids wasn't safe in it.

I wouldn't swat a kid for biting when nursing either. But I have a natural reaction to being bit and I'm sure my "Ouch!" and taking a baby off my breast to see how bad the bite is feels like a punishment even if I don't intend it to be one.

"I don't feel like going to the movies anymore because of your behavior" does feel like a punishment to me. Yes, kids' behavior might make me feel upset, but acting upon it in that way isn't a natural consequence, it's a choice.

I guess the difference between punishing and not punishing is intent, because when it's done, if I didn't want it to happen and it happened anyway I remain on my kids' "side" the whole time. "Oh, that's disappointing. We don't have time to get to the movie now. I wonder if there's time to get to a later one, or if we can go another day." Where a punishment puts you and your child on different "sides." It's about your choice to do something negative to them, or to allow something negative to happen to them.

I don't think choosing not to intentionally punish is the only option, but I do think it's a viable way of parenting.
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#30 of 170 Old 08-02-2013, 09:19 AM
 
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I struggle with explaining the way "no punishment" works. It is a hard concept to verbalize for me (not sure why). My children are now 14 and 10 and we have been at this for a long time. We lived through the all the early stages of child dev. and stuck to the Alfie Kohn-ish method. We set up boundaries in the form of a prepared environment when they were small. We very much expected that a 2 year old would act 2 and planned accordingly. For example, having a bedtime that was reasonable, having protein snacks available, having age appropriate expectations and toys.

We also learned a lot about "emotional coaching" and worked with them to express "big feelings" without hurting themselves or others.

The early years were VERY physically tiring. I remember being tired a lot.

We also had "house rules" - nothing posted or anything, but I might respond to a child being "harsh" to a sibling with things like, "In our house, we talk kindly to each other. Let's think about what you need to say and say it with kindness and respect."  This is how we would respond when someone did something that needed course correction. It was more "coming alongside" to assist than being over a child demanding.

I worked to make our house a pleasant place, a peaceful place, to live together. This is not always easy - and we had hard times that were not as peaceful as others, but I am well pleased with the results to date.

My children today are very self-regulating. They are polite, respectful, and easy to get along with. They will now mirror back language to us when things get sticky. Like the other day when I was very crabby, my 10 year old son approached gently and said, "Mom, do you think you need a protein snack?". I laughed and realized that I did, indeed, need a protein snack. When you live in a house with people whose blood sugar has some issues, protein snacks can help improve behavior. :)

I have been a no-punishment mommy for 12 years now - we started out using a more traditional approach, but switched when my oldest daughter was almost 3. I saw an immediate positive change in her and have been delighted over the years to see the results of no-punishment. It has changed my life for the better in many ways - even in my dealings with my husband.

Just a few thoughts on the topic - I am so happy that I found out about this method when mine were young. It has made a HUGE difference in all of our lives for the better.

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