7 Reasons Why Your Punishments Do Not Work

Most of the punishments that are currently used (families and also nursery schools and schools) are direct heirs of what our grandparents used with our parents and our parents with us, some with slight variations (instead of facing to the wall, now the “think chair” is used), but all of them with a common denominator, to make the child feel bad for what he has done, in order to learn.


The classic theory of punishment tells us that, for it to be effective and adequate, it must meet three requirements,

Apply just after the mischief has taken place.

Being unpleasant for the child (this is achieved by removing something that the child values ​​or by forcing the child to do something that he does not like).

Be proportional to the action.

However, few are the parents and educators who manage to punish as dictated by the books and, even in the best of cases, there is enough evidence to suggest that punishment is not the best educational option.


Why punishment is not the best educational option

Punish just after the prank and stay calm are often incompatible concepts. The natural emotional reaction of the parents when the child has just loaded a tableware to pull the tablecloth, is supine anger. And when you’re in that state, you’ll tend to punish quickly … but disproportionately.

Too harsh punishments have two consequences, on the one hand, it is often difficult for us to keep them (“two weeks without the iPad!” Usually stays in “a day without the iPad”, so we end up being inconsistent), On the other hand, the harshness of the punishment generates an intense emotional reaction in the child (feelings of anger, injustice, loneliness …) that, in addition to muddying our affective relationships, predispose him, again, to bad behavior and that if something it is clear that happy children behave better than those who are not.

With the passage of time, in addition, the punishments lose their effectiveness and cease to be aversive for the child, so that we will need stronger punishments every time to achieve the same results, thus initiating an unadvisable escalation.


The condition that the punishment has to be unpleasant to operate also has its cons, for example, it can happen that the child associates discomfort and dislike to certain elements of punishment, turning them into undesirable things as in the case of the “chair of think, “since you may associate” thinking “or” sitting in a chair “with” punishment “and end up considering introspection and reflecting negative things, when they are not, or punish the child without a park because he has behaved badly and visiting our grandparents’ house, converts the “grandparents” in part of the punishment.

On the other hand, learning (not doing what he did again) takes place because the child is “afraid” of being reprimanded again, which does not guarantee that he really understood why his action was wrong, but that it is simply an avoidance response of an evil that can also lead to the development of strategies to “not be caught”. The fact that punishment is usually something that has nothing to do with the child’s action (for example, “you have upset your sister, you do not have dessert today”), supports this idea.

The punishment cuts short the inadequate behavior, but under the assumption that “wrong is bad and you must pay for it”, which clashes with the idea that children learn by trial and error and that being wrong is part of the natural maturation process.

Finally, when punishment is represented as an end in itself, it does not give the child the possibility of doing things well, nor shows him how to do them, nor invites him to think about how to prevent in the future. Inappropriate behavior is punished but the child is not taught to improve, nor is he given the opportunity to do so.

And these are the 7 reasons why your punishments do not work. Do you think there is any more? Come to tell us. You can leave your comment below.