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The Right Way to Punish Children

Updated on March 27, 2017

Those big beautiful eyes melt any heart. Be careful of falling into the trap of not correcting negative behavior and instead rewarding it.

Kids need punishments which correlate with age and the "bad" behavior. Most parents admit a stern reprimand is everything needed to make things better.
Kids need punishments which correlate with age and the "bad" behavior. Most parents admit a stern reprimand is everything needed to make things better.
Behaving correctly in school is important for educational purposes.
Behaving correctly in school is important for educational purposes.

This is a brilliant work from School leaders. The Essentials of Elementary School Leaders. It profiles discipline in elementary schools. Check out some wonderfu

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 laws, both state and federal, defined the terms of what punishment is and what is it not. When executed correctly it is not against the law. It works for what it was intended. First and foremost the route taken for any caregiver is not to use any act in the form of criminal behavior. There is a difference between punishing and abuse. Knowing the distinction makes all difference in shaping a healthy young mind.

What it is and what it is not

Defined as a way to deter children from negative behavior it takes on more than one form. At times it functions to protect while in another it is a making certain the response to a certain circumstance is correct. Establishing boundaries and respect fall under the same umbrella. Putting all of these into forming the way kids behave is preparation for a bright future as a responsible adult.

It must be followed to the letter of the law. This includes enacting a time out or a spanking. It is never carried out as a beating. There is a line in place which is never crossed. For any responsible person incapable of identifying the difference, there are laws in force to remind them in the harshest method possible.

Know the difference between punishment and abuse

The deliberate abuse of a child for any reason is not forgivable. The legal system has foreseen the need to take a lot out understanding the distinction between the two out of the hands of caregivers. For instance, parents or teachers are responsible to use it as intended, but the boundaries are in the hands of society as a whole. This presents avoidance of any confusion. Additionally, mandates via the state and federal government have put into force a method to have "watchers" among anyone in contact with kids. The coinage is mandatory reporters.

The signs of abuse

There are four major categories of child abuse. Any or all of these have the potential to be categorized under an individual's definition of penance for transgressions. Neglect, physical abuse, psychological or emotional maltreatment and sexual abuse are in t.he same category.

Although these are all different, the damage to a kid is the same. Most times irreparable situations which are managed with long term physical and emotional professional care.

In most cases it is better to be safe than sorry. Kids find it difficult to discuss things these matters with other adults. There is the idea of telling on a family member and facing them after accusation before getting help. There have been more than numerous cases of waiting until it is too late and a life is lost because a mandatory reporter had fear of repercussions.

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.

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.

Amazon has Bad Behavior Stories an amazing read from Mary Gaitskill

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.

Location, location, location

Different places

Penalties for falling out of line with structure, guidelines and boundaries are unique for the place where the infraction happened. If mom and dad elect to make it waffle from place to place, kids certainly take advantage.

No child wants to follow the rules, they simply cannot help themselves. Giving an out is a dangerous precedent. These are some examples and ways to handle the state of affairs when away from home. The same guidelines must be applied..

Grandma’s versus home

This is a great example of fluctuation in where the misbehavior takes place and the reaction. 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 of little ones count on this. When becoming wise enough to tell the different rules are done at different places means the repercussions are slight compared to messing up at home.

Parents are responsible to talk to grandparents about expectations and punishment when infractions occur. This is a good idea to nip things in the bud as quickly as possible.Grandparents tend to coddle and talk mom and dad down on the penance for messing up.Avoid a habit forming. Habits are hard to break.

For example, talk about how time out is done and for how long for what reasons. This is critical in situations in getting little ones on the straight and narrow.

Wouldn’t cohesiveness work well to keep everyone 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 is a bad precedent to set. Both places are the same as far as mom and dad are concerned for good and bad behavior.


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 it to make certain kids behave accordingly in this atmosphere.There is a written guideline for all schools both electronically and paper. Signatures of children and parents are even needed to verify info read and understood before the school year starts.

Punishing them correctly for the specific circumstance in this location is ideal to receive the best outcome. School is an important part of a kids life. Avoid embarrassment of any kind. The need to see this route is extremely rare and has been said to lead to terrible life choices later on.

More parents have a duty to correct misbehavior in this area to make certain the atmosphere is conducive to learning. Kids get a better education overall. Improved grades, more relaxed teachers and less stress on the family at home are the outcomes. Following policies 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 more than a few studies. It is tied to improved physical and mental health.

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

Punishment for the actions of others

A number of parents used to have a code. The oldest was responsible for actions of younger children in the same household. Whether it 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, he had some blame for breaking the rules. Though, the oldest held the ultimate duty to assure guidelines were followed and received a punishment as well. This is not only unfair; it is a great way to build resentment.

Make each person take accountability for personal actions. Imagine raising a kid thinking he is able to do whatever he wants because someone else takes the fall. Older ones babysitting for younger siblings are not holding the blame for anyone getting out of line. Some parents bypass this type of accountability when it comes to safety or dangerous situations.

Latchkey kids or are old enough to stay home alone or with younger siblings typically after school. There is characteristically only a couple of hours between after school and mom or dad come in from work. It is more than difficult for a 12 year old to physically make a 10 year old do as they are told if there is any resistance.

Creating an environment where the eldest takes the sentence for the youngest is not a good thing. It is possible to have a physical confrontation between the two. This is not a good way to reinforce rules and see a punishment through.

The right route is to meet out punishment after returning home and hearing, from both parties, the circumstances surrounding an incident. Both answer for transgressions in accordance with what was done and to whom.

Distinct reasons

Punishing with a lecture on why an action was wrong, what rule was broken or guidelines not followed is doing no good. The verbal discussions are always to accompany any 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, answering for an issue is irrelevant in the scheme of things.

Tell the four year old running into the street it is dangerous because of cars. Autos are able to hurt or even kill. The kid is capable of mortal injury. No ice cream after dinner for this reason sounds pretty down good. Simply yanking them out of harm's way and a spank on the butt does neither person's justice..

Various degrees

Scores of penances get a reprieve. If this is a new rule the kid was not aware of, take it easy on the blow back for the first go round. If this is a change to the rule a second chance is in order in most cases. Misunderstandings do take place. Even a change to how it used to be is roughing up transitions.

A for instance getting permission to ride a bike. The assumption was to stay on the block riding for a couple of hours. Corner to corner, and go no further is what was meant, but not directly discussed. No questions asked. Dad never specified going around the block 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 a favorite afternoon television show while a ten year old gets to sit out a skating party. The same action was done by both parties, but the right way to answer is with varying degrees of handling the situation. Both broke the rules by saying a bad word, intentionally knowing it was out of bounds and consequences will occur. Both got the message with different reprimands.

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

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 a lot simpler to keep the idea of difficult life lessons to be learned in the hands of someone else for countless folks. Even when it comes to your own children. Without an obligation for the bad parts of being a parent sounds great. There is typically guilt when enforcing the rules and a punishment of some sort is warranted. This is a difficult task and guilt is tied to it a multitude of times. However, always look at the big picture and let the punishment fit the crime and age of a child.

Great behavior and following the guidelines with younger ones generally means as they grow older 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. A great example is bedtime.

Bedtime or curfew are characteristically the same. There is a time set and the policy is adhered to and followed throughout the life of a child. The exact time on the clock is changed, but the rules are the same. Young kids going without back talk or carried out only through threats is not necessary. Paying a price for not going by the rules is a must, whether it is a bedtime or curfew. Children following the duty of being tucked in for the night by 8pm are more likely to come in for curfew at 10pm when they are older with less fuss or none at all.

It is the responsibility of everyone with any input for shaping young minds into adulthood to take this seriously. This pertains not only to parents but also other members of a child's life. Including teachers, grandparents, stepparents, aunts, uncles and maybe even the neighbor in some cases.

All of these adults touching the lives of kids are responsible for 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. It builds an easier life for everyone involved.

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.

Tantrums at the store at not acceptable

Misbehavior in stores, restaurants and other environments make an adult feel shame or embarrassment. Believe it or not kids understand the dynamic of holding the power over adults. To alleviate this situation, use the same punishment as used at home.

Throwing tantrums in the isles of the grocery store makes the trip sour for the family and other customers. Cereal boxes tossed to the floor or tantrums when buying candy is refused is not acceptable. If the answer is leaving the child home on the next trip on missing out on ice cream cones afterwards, the punishment connected with the action as soon as possible is a great idea.

Mandatory reporting

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.

In 2013 the 50 states, including Guam, Puerto Rico, Samoa and the District of Columbia agreed mandatory reporting was necessary. This was a proactive approach to abusive situations for children.

Defined as those professions responsible for letting authorities know about suspected cases. These include; child care providers, physicians, teachers, social workers, police, abortion clinics and even medical examiners. Private citizens are also given to sharing info to the police where there is a possibility of neglect or mistreatment. All of these individual entities come together in a community to keep kids safe and well cared for. Out of the harm of child

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

Rules concerning how to interact with the opposite sex

Moral teachings go along with the rules and raising kids. These are sometimes soft ones such as not stealing and lying, but do vary with a kid’s age. As these little people mature guidelines and 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.

Thoughts to consider......

Adults live by the same policies for penalty or punishment for moving outside of boundaries and rules set for those folks over the age of 18. These are referred to as laws. Infractions are handled by what’s on the legal books, but in essence it is the same circumstances we teach children in countless circumstances. Think about it.

How do you handle temper tantrums in public?

See results

The right way to act at sports events has been in the limelight lately

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.

Disciplining and Toddler is more difficult than most new parents imagine

© 2014 smcopywrite


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    • smcopywrite profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from all over the web

      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.

    • lyndapringle profile image

      Lynda Pringle 

      3 years 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.

    • Chuck Bluestein profile image

      Chuck Bluestein 

      3 years 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.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      3 years 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.

    • profile image


      3 years 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?

    • lyndapringle profile image

      Lynda Pringle 

      3 years 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.


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