Creative Child

Three Reasons to Stop Punishing Kids and Three Ways to Help Them Behave Better

by Rebecca Eanes

Often a go-to for all behavioral problems, punishment is an extremely common method of behavior modification, but is it really the best way to help kids do better?

When we use punishment, our children are robbed of the opportunity to develop their own inner discipline-the ability to act with integrity, wisdom, compassion, and mercy when there is no external force holding them accountable for what they do. – Barbara Coloroso

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Here are just three reasons to stop punishing kids and three ways to help them behave better without punishment:

1. Punishment adds to the frustration children are already feeling which causes more acting out, not less. Children who are purposefully misbehaving are communicating that something doesn’t feel right internally. Very often, they are experiencing frustration in their lives that they simply do not have the resources to deal with. Frustration is at the root of aggression problems in children, so it only makes sense that adding more frustration would fuel more aggression. Even if the problem is not aggressive behavior, when you punish children, you run the risk of causing aggression in the future because of the level of frustration it causes.

2. Maturation cannot be punished into a brain. Often what we perceive as “misbehavior” is developmentally appropriate behavior that is annoying to adults. Behavior such as throwing food, refusing to sleep, whining, and tantrums aren’t calculative attempts from toddlers to test boundaries and frustrate parents but the result of an underdeveloped brain. There is no amount of punishment that will make the brain develop quicker, and in fact, some punishments have negative effects on the growing brain.

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3. Punishment fails to teach children what they can do. When a child is put in time-out for hitting a sibling, they may (or may not) understand that hitting is something they’re not supposed to do. However, just sitting there alone doesn’t help him learn how to regulate the emotions that caused him to attack in the first place and it doesn’t equip him with positive tools he can use the next time he experiences those emotions. Grounding a child for a bad grade tells him you’re displeased with his grade but it doesn’t give him study skills. Only when we teach children what to do and equip them with useful

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