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Punishment: Does it work?

He hit his younger sister, so send him to his room. She didn't listen and went to her friend's house without permission, so she loses her nightly book time. When do children deserve to be punished? To be sent to Time-Out, lose privileges or be "mildly" slapped? Shouldn't they be made to "understand' that their behavior is wrong?

A better question is, 'Does punishment work?" Does the misbehavior decrease, stay the same, or even increase as a result of being punished?

There's a difference between punishment and consequences. An example of the latter is the child spills milk and needs to clean it up (even with a parent's help). The former is being yelled at and/or told he's clumsy, and losing dessert. Most of us would agree that a child should not be punished for spilling milk. What many people don't realize, however, is that most of a young child's misbehavior falls in the same category. It's spilled milk. It's not a premeditated act but rather an impulsive one, borne of a typical need for immediate gratification.

Punishment doesn't teach. If you want your child to learn pro-social behaviors, to become a mensch with good self-esteem, then change your response. Now.


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