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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

People who do not punish their kids



Mom_discipline I was poking around one of my favorite parenting advice sites, run by Jane Nelsen of the Positive Discipline series, and I have to admit after all these years of using her advice with great success, I still wince when she urges parents not to punish their children. I know what she's getting at, and I would say my discipline plan is based on finding solutions rather than meting out punishment. But I worry this kind of statement feeds the stereotype that people who don't spank let their kids run hog wild with no consequences.

The reality is far from it. There are consequences for actions, but the focus of this kind of discipline plan zeroes in on the word "disciple" that discipline is derived from and stresses teaching what they should do instead of punishing for what they shouldn't.

So if the child is hitting a friend, for example, you grab that hand and say "We don't hit, hitting hurts. I will not let you play here if you are hurting your friend." Then you talk about why he was hitting. He was frustrated? He was angry? You talk about what he should say or do if he's frustrated or angry. You then also give lots of attention and apologies to the friend he hit. Some would follow that up with a 2-minute time out or even a spanking as punishment, but Nelsen wouldn't. You've already identified the problem and taught a solution. She thinks adding punishment makes a child pay for their mistakes instead of learning from them.

You can read here how I stopped my toddler from biting in one week through a series of prevention, separation when he bit, and teaching him what to do instead when he's feeling out of control. I ignored the advice to bite him back or use hot sauce because it wasn't necessary if you have a comprehensive approach. Also, that just would teach him that bad behavior begets bad behavior.

I think it's semantics. The child feels punished if the play date ends because of misbehavior or they lose the right to ride their bicycle because the ignored the road rules. But I do agree that if your focus is only on punishment you won't solve the problems in the long run.

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:02am]


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