Parenting Myth 1 – Punishment will Change a Child’s Bad Behaviour

The thing about parenting is that there’s no other way other than learning on the job – initially.

And when it comes to punishment and discipline, one of the most common beliefs is that punishment will change a child’s bad behaviour.

There are some parents, though, who believe that punishment is wrong and prefer to have long drawn out discussions with their children about the rights and wrongs of what they have done or distract them from the unwanted behaviour, in the hope that they will forget about it.

Other parents, especially those with children with challenging behaviour, will find themselves believing that their children are behaving in a certain way with the sole purpose of getting back at them.

So in the next few days, we will look at 7 Parent Traps that parents hold when it comes to parenting their children.

Today we start with Parent Trap 1:

Punishment will Change a Child’s Bad Behaviour

This, I would say, is one of the most commonly held beliefs the world over.  Some are for it and practice religiously while there are those who try and avoid as much as possible.

Let me start by saying that when it comes to raising children, punishment does indeed have it’s place but using it alone, as a means of changing your child’s undesired behaviour, has been shown by many a study, that it continues to be rather ineffective. 

The reason for this is that punishment focuses on what the child has done wrong and very rarely tells the child what to do right. 

Also punishment is not as effective as when a parent focuses more on rewarding a child’s good or wanted behaviour. 

Praising your child for what he or she has done correctly and properly, is a far more effective way of getting the behaviour you want to show up more frequently.

Punishment also seems to have a some sort of set trajectory.  You begin with mild punishment once in a while but before you realise it, you are punishing more frequently, more intensely and for longer periods. 

The first time you punished your child, it worked!  So you did it again and again but now it’s not working so well anymore. But all the punishment did in the first place, was to stop the behaviour for a moment and temporarily.  But then it returned again and again and again.

Soon, you find that you are always alert and ready to punish, constantly on the look out, tired, irritated and frustrated and all you’re trying to achieve is to get your child to behave in a way that will allow him or her to develop into the social, happy and contented being that they could be.

As time goes on, constant punishment alone without any positive reinforcements, can cause your child to begin avoiding you whenever he or she can.  They can also just get used to the punishments which in turn render them ineffective.

Also, keep in mind that even when punishing your child for a certain behaviour, you are still paying attention to it and when it comes to some children, any kind of attention can encourage him or her to do it again, especially when it’s followed by a lengthy lecture on what they did.

We will look at how to use punishment effectively later on but for now here’s are a couple of tips you might want to use and try.  Remember, to be patient and persistent.  Don’t try it for a couple of days and decide that it doesn’t work.  Consistency and persistence is the key.  Give it at least 2 weeks of continuous use to begin to see a change.

Tip 1 – From here on, try focusing on your child’s good behaviour more.  When you see your child doing something well then praise them, especially if this particular good behaviour is linked in someway to the one that you are trying to eliminate.  Mention it to them directly, clearly and specifically.  “Well done for finishing your dinner Tom! That’s brilliant!” And make sure you mean it when you say it.

Tip 2 – When your child misbehaves, always have a logical consequence to follow on.  Don’t threaten them with an action you know you cannot pull through.  Whatever you decide is the best course of action for your child, use it quickly and consistently. 

If you have any questions do contact me.  I’ll be happy to speak with you.

Next time we will look at another commonly held belief – The more I remind my child the better he/she will behave.

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