Punishment or Consequences- What are you dishing out to your kid?

punishment or consequences- Parenting resources by ZenParent

Let’s take a typical day. Your kid insists on having ice cream and you say no. Your kid persists and eventually defies you and gets a scoop himself. Your first reaction is anger. Just as he is about to gulp down a spoonful, you hurriedly want to take the plate away and stop him. And you translate all this by grumbling and telling your kid that he probably will not  be allowed to eat ice cream for the next few weeks. There you have dished out a verdict, a form of punishment and you feel this will be enough for your kid to behave the next time and obey your instruction. While this may work for some time, it has the potential to lose its effect eventually as there may come a point when your child may not take your punishment seriously. By choosing to punish your kid, you have not only stopped him from recognising the outcomes of his actions but have made him feel that you may unnecessarily be disapproving of any and everything he says or wants.

To define further, consequences are the result of actions and decisions (good or bad) and punishment is a form of control by you that does not allow an action to take place at all. Further, punishment prevents you from giving enough time and space to your kids for them to realise why that action was being refused in the first place.

 

punishing a child for an action- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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In an ideal situation, you would warn and remind your kid about his recurring cold and throat problems and if, your kid doesn’t want to take heed, you calmly let him have that scoop. You would hope, then, that when your kid falls sick, he will realise the consequences of his own doing and will resist eating ice-cream, for some time anyway. The advantage in taking this approach is that a child internalizes the reason for refusal and the effects of the lesson learnt are long term. So, as a parent, you have to ask yourself this question: what is it that I want my kid to learn. Is it just obeying instructions or learn a more valuable lesson that will help him in future even in my absence’?

I remember the time I took my son for a movie when he was seven and he just wouldn’t sit still. I kept threatening him with punishment but he refused to listen. Soon enough, I decided to let him be, knowing what would follow next and it did. A gentleman next to me scolded him and asked the concierge to take him out of the theatre. I wanted my kid to learn this lesson and so, I rose and walked out of the theatre with him. My son realised the consequence of his action and I never needed a punishment for the same problem again.

Consequences help your kids grow as they teach them to make better decisions and choices.

They teach your kids to be more responsible apart from help forging a better bond between you both.

Of course, consequences can only work if your child is willing to learn the lesson and take responsibility for his misdemeanour. But if that doesn’t happen, there is no reason for you to stop letting him face consequences. I have said this before and I reiterate this on the basis of my experience as a mother that no matter how your kid responds, consequences are being internalised and the learning is happening at a subtle level.

consequences of an action- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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If your child still hasn’t learnt a lesson, punishment is still not the answer. How your kid decides to react is his decision; he will eventually have to confront the consequence of his deliberate ignoring of you. You as a parent will have to remain firm and keep doing what you believe is right and hope for the best.

I am sure you are wondering at this point how to let kids face consequences that may not be very safe. After all, everyone is not lucky all the time.  For example, if your kid has insisted on a late-night outing with friends, and has been given a curfew along with instructions for calling about his whereabouts and this does not happen, try this. Instead of having a blanket ban on outings, consistently demand each time he goes out that he calls you. This will make him realise that you ask this of him because you are concerned and it is responsible behaviour on his part to keep you informed or then shift the late-night get-together to your place. The consequence in this case would teach your kid to be more responsible while the punishment would have made him a rebel. It’s anybody’s guess what you want him to become!

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