Do you end up punishing your child for poor behaviour? What do you use? Is it taking away their iPad? Is it sending your child to their room? Is it stopping them from watching their favourite programme? A quick smack?

If punishing worked, you’d never need to punish your child twice. If punishing worked, the behaviour you don’t like would have stopped.

So is it working? I’m guessing, it isn’t! Because you’ve read this far!

When you think about it if punishing worked our prisons would be empty!

As a parent, you’re the person who should be there to love and protect your child, not hurt them. When you punish, your child is confused and resentful, and it damages the bond you have. Just think, how would you like your boss at work to punish you if you made a mistake?

The word discipline comes from the word ‘to teach.’ You discipline your child not to control them, but to help them learn how to control and manage their own behaviour.

So why do we end up punishing children? Because our parents punished us! Because fear makes children behave in the short-term. And sometimes, when our buttons get pushed, we don’t know what else to do.

Many parents come to me, as a parenting coach, to help them change how their children behave. Perhaps to tackle an angry child, siblings fighting, or perhaps a child hitting. A lot of what I cover during the sessions is to show parents how to prevent a child misbehaving in the first place. And we cover 14 alternative ways to discipline children when they test the boundaries.

Here’s one of the 14 methods:

Alternative to punishing: The ‘Learning from Mistakes’ method.

  1. You need to stay calm, and let your child time to calm down so he or she can deal with the mistake. That could be 20 minutes or a few hours.
  2. Your child needs to admit what happened and that it was a mistake. It’s ok. We all make mistakes!
  3. They need to do something nice for the person they upset to make amends. That could be a sorry note or picture or doing something helpful such as washing the kitchen floor or giving you a neck massage.
  4. Then you ask your child: ‘What can you learn from this? What would you do differently next time?’ This is the most important bit, so help them explore what they need to do if that situation happened again.
  5. Then you’re done. It’s a clean slate. You can move on. The matter is now over, and you make sure you don’t mention it again. Finito!

Remember if you want your child to learn from the mistakes they make, next time you’re tempted to punish your child, try this instead.

The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

Need help now? Ready to explore whether investing in some tailor-made parenting sessions would be right for you and your family? Book your FREE 20-minute call with Elizabeth here

2 Responses to Punishing Children Doesn’t Work!

  1. Brian says:

    Hi there great articles would love some advice as with our siblings we have tried both ways to teach let them calm down not punish & this didn’t work & we have punished removing i-pod ect not what we have wanted to do but do see more of an improvement but I know this way is not right as it teaches them to depend on materialistic items.Me & my partner are going to start with some of your simple tips & get the siblings to write notes 5 things of gratitude,our main concern is the constant squabbling never saying anything nice to each other as soon as they wake up until they go to bed & most of all the hitting of each other.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Brian
      It sounds like it would be a good idea to get your whole family together and discuss what’s going on.
      If your children are fighting and arguing all day, no-one will be happy.
      At your family meeting, tell the children why you’ve got them together – to make your home a nicer place to live, for all of them.
      Ask each of them how it feels with the constant squabbling, and what they would like to happen, so they enjoy their time at home.
      Make up some new rules, about how they will agree to behave, politely and respectfully.
      If there is an argument, be a mediator to help them sort it out. have a couple of rules, only one child talks at a time, and if anyone loses their temper, you’ll take a break, and come back in half an hour.
      While each child is talking, take notes about their feelings and concerns. Read them back, to check you’ve understood properly. Each child gets a chance to speak twice.
      Then ask the children to come up with a solution that they can both agree.
      Hope this helps.
      Warm wishes,

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