What Punishment Does

(from 1 Minute Parenting Insights published on Decoding Your Child Facebook Page on 15 Sep 2016)

The whole idea of punishment is to stop a particular misbehaviour.

Punishment is a quick fix method to address a symptom, much like popping a painkiller to stop a headache instead of figuring out what is causing the headache (dehydration, fatigue, excessive noise, etc) in the first place.

Sure, a painkiller can stop the headache. But if the underlying cause is not addressed, the headache could come back once the analgesic wears off. It might even come back with a vengeance and bring with it a whole host of other problems simply because the dehydration or fatigue or whatever it is causing the headache has triggered a stronger response from the body.

However, if we take the time to find out why there is a headache and address the underlying cause, we would solve the problem at its roots and the headache will disappear for good.

Likewise, misbehaviour is a symptom. A child may act out because she is hungry, tired or over-stimulated. A child can get into a fight because he is bullied, provoked into it, or frustrated because of something else. While fighting should not be encouraged, punishing the child without understanding why he misbehaved breeds resentment and detachment.

Punishment will in no way foster cooperation from the child. Neither will it elicit a willingness on the part of the child to behave. Instead, it teaches the child to weigh the punishment against the misbehavior. He may end up choosing to misbehave either because the punisher is not around, or because he no longer fears the punishment.

All it teaches him is that should he want to misbehave, he should do it where or when he won’t get punished.

So instead of punishing our children, it will be more productive to find out what caused them to act out and address the root cause.

Be quick to understand, slow to punish.

Happy Parenting!!