The Right Way to Punish Children

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Smaller kids need smaller corrections or reprimands
Smaller kids need smaller corrections or reprimands
Behaving correctly in school is important for educational purposes.
Behaving correctly in school is important for educational purposes.

New parents read magazine articles and books and believe they know it all. The real thing is slightly different.

Punishment for a child in America has changed over the years. Historically the law has always defined the terms of what punishment is and what is it not. When it is not it is criminal. There is a line between the two never to be crossed. The legal system has taken a lot out of the hands of parents and put it into the hands of society as a whole.

A number of parents feel comfort and relief with this knowledge while others feel invaded. This is a great discussion to explore. What is the right way to punish children? Taking into account a variety of factors makes the discussion a long one for some, while others see any reprimand in black and white making it extremely short for discussion.

What they need

Children need structure, rules and most importantly boundaries. When they deviate from the rules outlining all of these things a penalty is warranted. These things are established for their safety and welfare and in all fairness for the most part they are not difficult to live with. These are put into place to promote healthy growth morally, physically and to become good people and citizens as adults in the world.

What kids want is chaos. They are incapable of raising themselves and any care giver with a sense they are capable of the duty is wildly mistaken. This is not up for discussion. They need adults or the dynamic would not exist.

There certainly is no one overall universal penance for kids out of line with the rules. Just as every child is distinctive the same holds true for the consequences of their poor actions.

A variation to think about before reprimand is factors affecting the penalty for going outside of the limitations established for them. This is the rub when it comes to disciplining children in a healthy way. There is no guide book, but common sense is always to prevail.

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Older kids are more responsibility for their actions.
Older kids are more responsibility for their actions.
Rules do not change at grandmas house.
Rules do not change at grandmas house.

Getting good behavior from bad takes something more than spanking. In most cases this does not work out well

Different places

Penalties for falling out of line with structure, rules and boundaries are unique for the place where the infraction happened. If mom and dad elect to make it waver from place to place, kids will certainly take advantage. No child wants to follow the rules, they simply cannot help themselves. Giving them an out is a dangerous precedent. These are some examples and ways to handle the state of affairs.

Grandma’s versus home

This is a great example of fluctuation in where the misbehavior takes place and how parents react to it. Kids are wise to the fact the punishment at grandma’s house for the same bad action performed at home is lighter or none at all. Countless kids count on this. When they are wise enough to tell the difference things outside of the rules are done at different locations because the penalty is slight in comparison to others.

Parents are responsible to discuss with grandparents what is expected for punishment when infractions occur. This is a good idea to nip things in the bud as quickly as possible. Avoid a habit forming. Habits are hard to break.

Such as, talk about how time out is done and for how long. This is critical in situations such as these to getting little ones on the straight and narrow.

Wouldn’t cohesiveness work well to keep the little ones on track? Although there are different shades of grey in this area, never make it black and white. No punishment at Aunt Jen’s, but ramifications at home. Both places are the same as far as mom and dad are concerned for good and bad behavior.

School

What about school? This is an area where teachers really need help. They are restricted tremendously by the law and lots of parents simply do not have time or will not take the time to make certain kids behave accordingly in this atmosphere. Punishing them correctly for the specific circumstance and in this location is ideal to receive the best outcome. School is an important part of their lives.

More parents doing their duty to correct misbehavior in schools find better education overall. Improved grades, more relaxed teachers and less stress on the family at home are the outcomes. Following rules at school in this day and age is capable of being a matter of life and death for some.

Starting positive behavior is school at a young age results in post high school education in lots of cases.

Are sporting events turning into places where parents are misbehaving as well

Not the same people

Some parents used to have a code. The oldest was responsible for the actions of the younger children. Whether that was one or more, it didn’t matter. If a middle child went over to the neighbors to play video games without permission after school. The oldest was responsible and received a punishment as well. This is not only unfair; it is a great way to build resentment.

Each child is responsible for their own actions. Imagine raising a kid thinking he is able to do whatever he wants because someone else will take the fall. Older kids babysitting for younger ones are not holding the responsibility for their punishment if they get out of line.

Some kids are latchkey or are old enough to stay home alone or with one another after school. They are together until their parents arrive from work. These are usually conditions where kids are watching other kids. It is more than difficult for a 12 year old to physically make a 10 year old do as they are told if they resist.

Creating an environment where the oldest takes the sentence for the youngest is building hostility and possibly a physical confrontation between the two. This is not a good way to reinforce rules and see a punishment through.

Distinct reasons

Some parents punish but miss the lecture. The verbal discussions are always to accompany the sentence. This is a discussion between the parties about what the rule or condition was which was disobeyed. Without correcting the flaw in this manner, punishment is irrelevant in eh scheme of things.

Tell the four year old running into the street is dangerous because of cars. The kid is capable of mortal injury. No ice cream after dinner for this reason.

Various degrees

Scores of punishments receive a reprieve. If this is a new rule the kid was not aware of, take it easy on the blow back. If this is a change to the rule a second chance is in order in most cases.

A for instance is a kid has permission to ride their bike. The assumption was to stay on the block. Corner to corner, and go no further. Dad never specified this condition and when finding out Johnny went around the block it was out of bounds. However, Dad never specifically said stay on the block corner to corner and he deserved pardon of sorts.

A four year old gets a time out or misses her favorite afternoon television show while a ten year old gets to miss a skating party. The same action was done by both parties, but there are varying degrees of handling the situation. Both said a bad word, intentionally knowing it was out of bounds and the consequences. Both got the message.

Being a good parent means handling these situations appropriately and understanding the varying degrees of punishment children need for a positive outcome to the circumstance.

Sporting events

This venue has become an issue for parents along with kids. Sporting events for youngsters are developed to teach concepts such as teamwork, winning graciously, rewards for hard work and losing with honor. All of these things are lost in the muss and fuss which has become our sporting events for the younger generation.

Things such as cheating, using illegal substances to enhance or get an edge on the competition and disobeying coaching staff are all frowned upon. There are even players choosing to play individually for a team sport. This is a time to learn principles, philosophies and great traditions. Going by the rules helps make it an excellent experience to remember instead of waywardness making a painful memory down the road.

High school and college are the real culprits. In countless cases these youngsters look like adults on the outside, but are still children in mental and intellectual age. The guidance is needed more than ever being so close to making their own decisions when it comes to important issues and factors in their life. Keep them on the straight and narrow to assure they are bypassing incidents which have the capability of ruining their lives forever. Correct them when they are wrong in the right way. A little bit of respect is given in lots of cases if it is deserved by the child.

Parents are not a child's friend. They laugh together and play together, but one is responsible for the behavior of the other.
Parents are not a child's friend. They laugh together and play together, but one is responsible for the behavior of the other.

Is punishment discipline?

In conclusion

It is much easier to keep the idea of difficult life lessons to be learned are in the hands of someone else when it comes to your own children. Not being responsible for what is considered the bad part of being a parent sounds great. Not being the one enforcing the rules and handing out punishment. This is living in a fairytale land and unacceptable.

Great behavior and following the rules with younger kids means later in life the penalties, punishments and reprimands are not needed. Imagine putting a five year old in time out or not doing it and trying to correct the behavior of six foot tall, 210 pound high school boy for the same misconduct. If the job was accomplished for the disobedience young, the need is not there later on.

It is the responsibility of everyone responsible for shaping young minds into adulthood to take this seriously. This means teachers, grandparents, stepparents, aunts, uncles and maybe even the neighbor in some cases. All of these adults touching the lives of kids have a means of making a positive contribution. Most never understand it is through enforcing boundaries, rules and regulations great men and women emerge. Discipline is a need for children to create healthy adults.

Children misbehave in stores, restaurants and other environments where they feel an adult’s embarrassment. They understand the dynamic of having the power. To alleviate this situation, use the same punishment as if they were at home.

Do they throw cereal boxes on the floor in the kitchen? Do they scream and throw tantrums when they are refused candy or other items not needed? Certainly not in most homes so take care of it. This is not only ruining the trip to the store for both of you, but most times others around you are also involved. The negative actions are ruining their outing as well.

Children learning to behavior correctly earlier in life are of little need of discipline as they grow older.
Children learning to behavior correctly earlier in life are of little need of discipline as they grow older.

More instructions on no spousal abuse (both men and women) and respect go a long way for the rest of a child’s life clear into adulthood.

Correcting bad behavior in kids has changed tremendously since mom and dad's day and age.
Correcting bad behavior in kids has changed tremendously since mom and dad's day and age.

Moral teachings go along with the rules and boundaries set in place. These are sometimes soft ones such as not stealing and lying, but vary with a kid’s age. As children mature rules related to personal relationships between the opposite sexes are put in place. Even the responsibilities men have to women and women to men are learned in early adolescents.

When it comes to correcting bad behavior are dads harder than moms?
When it comes to correcting bad behavior are dads harder than moms?

Thoughts to consider......

Adults live by the same rules for penalty or punishment for moving outside of boundaries and rules. These are referred to as laws. Infractions are handled by what’s on the legal books, but in essence it is the same circumstances. Think about it.

How do you handle temper tantrums in public?

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6 comments

lyndapringle profile image

lyndapringle 24 months ago from Austin, Texas

I do not have children but I found this article, nonetheless, a very interesting read. Parenting is one difficult job and I have seen the stress and joy of raising them within my friends. Here is one thing that I do find interesting: none of my friends ever use corporal punishment. Most of us were raised in the 1970s and early 80s where being hit was a regular occurrence and mostly it was done out of anger. I notice that my friends do not lay a finger on their children and I'm proud of them for that as children are not property. No one should consider assaulting a child anymore than they would a 200 lb football player. You mentioned so many common sense alternatives in your blog that would work even better than spanking. However, the only one I might disagree with is reasoning with a toddler. I am not sure that they have the cognitive ability yet to understand right from wrong.

I also agree that it is most unfair for an older child to be punished for the behavior of the younger one he is supposed to be caring for. Children do not get to choose how many siblings come into their lives and should not be forced to bear the consequences of the actions of the younger ones.

I also found it interesting when you mentioned that kids are less likely to throw tantrums at home than at stores because they KNOW that public tantrums are embarrassments. Clever little tykes! LOL! I noticed in your poll that ALL of the parents will remove their child from such a situation. However, I wish they would not do this because children need to acquire appropriate social behavior and learn that manipulation is no way to get what they want. As much as my ears might hurt, I admire the parent who ignores their child who is throwing the tantrums of all tantrums at a store because he/she is not getting what they want. Just a couple of times of ignoring this behavior and the child will get the message.

Sporting events are awful events for children, in my opinion, unless the parents are the fountness of kindness and good moral behavior. Sports bring out the ugly in both kids and adults. As popular as I was at school, when it came to sports, my classmates became ugly beasts because I was no athlete. I've also seen parents yell at children and push them to compete against other children who may be more talented or may be having a better day in the field. The purpose of placing kids in sports events is NOT competition but for socialization. Sports is supposed to teach children how to be cooperative with on another, encourage good teamwork and how to lose gracefully. Sometimes kids win at sports but, when they don't, this can be a good lesson about failure in life, the review of mistakes made and learning the resilience to carry on.

Anyway, this was a very good article and I hope parents who read this take it to heart and are able to learn some good values from it.


win-winresources 24 months ago from Colorado

Spanking, slapping,twisting, pinching, shaking and other physical forms of discipline are nothing more than violence and are not suitable for helping children learn proper behaviors. Do you really want to teach your child that violence is a solution to a problem? Do you really want to see fear in your child's eyes when you approach?


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 24 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

I don't look on correcting kids' behaviour as punishment. It's in their long-term interests to conform to a certain degree. They'll benefit in the long run. It's senseless 'correction' I don't go along with, like the way some teachers behave. If correction has a function, to deter anti-social behaviour, then so be it. Some just seem to get a kick out of ordering those around who aren't supposed to answer back, like denying permission to go on the toilet or whatever.

I had an English teacher who caned me for writing an adventure story when she asked for a factual account of a day in the life of a trapeze artist. What could I have known about everyday circus life at the age of 13? What was more, she didn't ask if I was left or right-handed and grabbed my left hand to wallop three times with a half-inch thick piece of cane.

She was on her way to a nervous breakdown at the time, little did we know, and the next I knew she was seen pushing a pram. I felt sorry for the kid.

Our headmaster wasn't a lot better. He lost his temper at the drop of a hat and caned whole classes for talking. He was known as 'Pop' because he 'popped'.

Now they can't cane kids in school, they say they can't cope with disciplinary problems and leave the profession. Kids don't get a very good deal with some 'elders and betters' at the best of times.


Chuck Bluestein profile image

Chuck Bluestein 24 months ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

Our current way of bringing up children comes from Nazi Germany. If kids are raised withed attachment parenting then kids do not need to be punished. This woman who wrote The Continuum Concept spent over 2 years in the Yequana village and the children did not fight with each other and they did not need to be punished.

Also the Yequana adults were different than American adults. They were both doing the same activity and the Americans were stressed out and miserable and the Yequan adults were having fun.

Here is a great and terrible thing. The children treat their parents just the way the parents treated them.


lyndapringle profile image

lyndapringle 24 months ago from Austin, Texas

Chuck, your last sentence is on point. I was abused by my mother as a child and now what I feel toward her is indifference so I don't communicate much with her. It does make me feel guilty but I do believe that had she treated me kinder, we'd be closer. Likewise, my father, while divorced from my mother, was neglectful with visitation and child support so my feelings toward him are not that of a father, more of a distant family relation. I'm available to both parents if they are ill but we are fairly estranged. Children will show unconditional love even when abused but not so as adults when they learn better.


smcopywrite profile image

smcopywrite 23 months ago from all over the web Author

thankyou all for some wonderful insight from all different directions. this is why these types of topics need to be discussed. They are important for the future of our kind. everyone needs to appreciate that.

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