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That kid needs to be punished!

February 1, 2011

What the Experts Say…

“Misbehavior and punishment are not opposites that cancel each other; on the contrary, they breed and reinforce each other. Punishment does not deter misconduct. It makes the offender more skillful at escaping detection. When children are punished they resolve to become more careful, not more obedient or responsible.” (Haim Ginott, Child Psychologist, in his book, Between Parent and Child)

In Other Words…

When children are punished, they don’t generally learn valuable life lessons. They don’t learn better ways of acting. Instead, punishment usually does teach them to be resentful. It teaches them to be sneaky. Rather than depend on punishment, the effective parent uses a healthy combination of prevention, understanding, teaching, and, when necessary, consequences.

How This Applies to You…

Rather than noticing children primarily when they are misbehaving, we can encourage good behavior by noticing good behavior. Try looking for good things your child does. When he or she misbehaves, try gentle correction rather than painful punishment.

For example, when a child resists a request to complete a chore, rather than threaten or punish, try empathizing: “Right now you don’t feel like doing that.” If there is no reason to postpone the task, make a simple request. “Please do the job now.” If the child still resists, say, “That job needs to be done before you eat dinner.” Be sure to notice when the job is done and thank the child. Guidance is better than punishment.

To Find Out More…

For an excellent program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at and if your children are younger than five, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more information on parenting, we recommend Between Parent and Child by Dr. Haim Ginott.

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