Teach or punish?

Punishment punishes, It does NOT teach.

Myths: 

  • If we don't punish the children, they don't learn

  • If we don't punish them, they don't think about their mistakes

  • If we don't punish we lose authority as parents.

Some of us grew up with the Myth that if we don't pay for what we did wrong, we won't  learn.

There is a price for good behavior, but in the early years it is paid by the parents, not the children. Why should children have to feel bad about their mistakes? Who said that our roll as a parents is to suppress instead of teach? 

Children are growing and learning how things work in their environment. We have to give them opportunities to make mistakes. Mistakes help them to learn, and think about solutions. In the chaos of the screaming and the crying and spaghetti sauce on the wall, we must model how to do it better next time, and then show our children we are there to support them.

 If a child makes a mistake she probably wasn’t paying attention.  

The solution is not to make them feel even worse. Isn’t it enough just to feel bad for our own mistake?

When we make a mistake we need to find solutions - not feel guilty about it. Children are the same. Children are very smart and the consequences of their mistakes are enough to teach them.

When people make us feel bad for our mistakes we feel shame and insecurity. We start to feel guilty, reproach ourselves  and focus on the bad instead of the positive.

These are behaviors that grow with us and start to form as habits in later years.

I don't think that is the pattern we want for our children. We want resilient adults who think about solutions  - not dwell on problems. We want adults who see mistakes as opportunities to learn instead of creating low self-esteem and feeling guilty for what they did wrong. 

Punishment can work in the moment, but to what long-term effect? All our children are big leaders, persistent and intelligent. They are going to find a way to do what they want with or without our consent. 

So, what is what we want for their future? Do we want teenagers who hide their actions from us? Who make decisions from a place of fear? Do we want teenagers who are making mistakes and feeling guilt with no compass or adviser? 

Or do we want teenage leaders with good self-esteem and guided by people that love them and respect them no matter what?

As adults our responsibility with the children is to guide, and teach, not reproach and punish and push down.

By punishing, we are teaching a behavior. 

Instead of punishing, take time to communicate and teach a different behavior.