In writing my last blog on discipline, I had this persistent, nagging feeling. I felt a little stilted and quite hesitant, to be honest. I think these feelings stemmed from the fact that I do not actually implement a lot of consequences in my own parenting practices. Maybe when I am in a state of complete frustration I will do something like take a toy away from the girls. However, the more I think about it, those responses are very reactive and do not teach the girls anything in that moment either. Other than to keep their conflict quiet otherwise mom will come take stuff away. But have they learned how to share in that moment? Furthermore, when I am calm and rationale, that is not something I would do anyway. So it made sense I felt a little disconnect between what I wrote and what I practice. So, what do I really do if I don’t really use consequences?
In my last blog, I wrote about punishment and how it does not help teach our children anything of value. It only tends to increase the divide between us and them. However, punishment is very different from discipline, or establishing logical consequences. Consequences, when used properly after your child has made a choice (i.e., in behaving a certain way), can help to teach.
Punishment. A tricky subject. I find that, more and more, parents have a hard time wrapping their heads around punishment. Or rather, not punishing their child. I often get a lot of push-back from parents about how their child has to be taught a lesson. That their child will otherwise “get away with it.” At the end of the day, punishment does nothing to teach our children. It may humiliate, frustrate, shame, upset, or demoralize our child. Punishment may fuel a child’s anxiety. Or dampen their self-esteem. It may even make a child resentful. Rather than thinking about what they did wrong and how to make it better, they may instead use that time brewing in anger and resentment and even thinking about how to seek revenge. I find punishment puts a wedge between us and our children. And punishment certainly does nothing to teach. Well, perhaps other than it is ok to yell, hit, or coerce others when they do not behave the way we want them to.
I am so thankful I had a childhood before technology took over.
In the happiest of our childhood memories, our parents were happy, too.
– Robert Brault