Why punishments are useless

Despite all our goodwill in the world to apply a positive education, sometimes the last resort we find in the face of certain attitudes of our children is punishment. Deprive of TV, go to the corner, give a kiss or a drawing to his sister … are these sanctions effective?

The sentence often falls without even being seen coming. It is 7 p.m., in the middle of the evening tunnel, between baths, homework , dinner to prepare … And it is of course at this precise moment that our children decided to play cat, when we asked them 4 times to set the table.

“Ok, since you’re not listening to anything, you can forget your story tonight. It’s direct dodo! “.

And there you have it, the famous punishment has fallen. If we hold on, we feel guilty once the stress has subsided for having deprived them of a privileged moment that they appreciate, and if we ignore it, we blame ourselves because we know that we lose credibility. But what do we gain then? For Marie Costa, parenting expert, author of 100 ideas to avoid punishment, “There is no good punishment. If for some parents it is a good recourse to establish their authority , it actually only leads to bad feelings such as hatred, anger or sadness and leads to reactions such as revenge or withdrawal into oneself. ”

Parents subject to contradictory injunctions

Punishment is “the act of inflicting a penalty on a breach, a regulation. It must be painful enough so that the child does not start again. »From there to saying that parents who punish their children are executioners, is there only one step? However, we only reproduce the educational patterns of previous generations, reassuring ourselves as best we can (“I was punished and that did not prevent me from succeeding in life!”). At the same time, the principles of benevolent education have gained ground, neurosciences have provided new data, and parents are caught in the crossfire … how can you gain respect without yelling or punishing?

From reactive parent to leading parent

“It’s just a question of taking a fresh look at education. Parents feel like they are raising children well because they scare them. But better to teach them responsibility. The idea is to move from the “reactive parent”, who wants to be respected and who does not necessarily have confidence in himself, to the “parent leader”, who is an inspiration for the child. That won’t stop them from doing silly things, but by being pulled up, they can learn something, improve. »Explains Marie Costa. She invites parents to ask themselves a simple question: “How many times have you punished your child for the same situation?” If the answer is more than once, the punishment was ineffective.

To rhyme benevolence with requirement

Avoiding punishment does not mean letting everything go, quite the contrary! “You should never ignore inappropriate behavior, even if you are tired. It must be taken cold. This is firmness. »Explains Marie Costa. It is essential for children to have a framework, rules and to know how to respect them. For this, it is up to parents to put in place a system that promotes their good behavior.

Anticipate the problem

It involves small, simple things like adapting the environment to the child. Does he throw his coat on the floor when he gets home? Place the coat rack at its height. Doesn’t he know how to tidy up his room? Provide boxes by category (Lego, markers, etc.) so that he can easily navigate.

Take into account the context

Is your child tired? If so, it is better to wait until he has rested before talking to him about his behavior again. Is it you who are stressed and who get upset over a small detail? Take a step back and come back to what bothered you later.

Be clear about what is expected of the child
Often the problem is that the rules are too broad. “To be wise”, what does that mean exactly? Does laughing out loud mean not being wise? “Make sure the child understands the rule and when to apply it. »Insists Marie Costa. At the table, for example, we must specify what is meant by “behave well”: hold your cutlery in a certain way, remain seated with both buttocks on the chair… Ditto for returning from school. We explain the program in detail beforehand: we wash our hands, we have a snack, we do our homework then we play for an hour. You can write the rules and post them, kids love it.

Press the positive
When he does things right, remember to tell him. And even when it has started badly, point out that the behavior has stopped (“thank you for stopping yelling in the car…”). By understanding what he does well, he learns better because he knows what is expected of him. You can also replace a negative injunction “Stop running around the house”, with a positive rule “For a week, you only have to walk around the house!” “.

Lead by example
We know it well, but it is sometimes one of the rules that escapes us the most! So we let go of smartphones, we don’t shout, we take the time to listen to each other … Children learn very well by imitation (we talk about mirror neurons, like when someone yawns and we yawns in turn).

The main punishments deciphered by the pro

Force a kiss to apologize
We force a physical contact with the child, it is against everything we would like us to do to him! You have to respect your body, your desire to kiss or not. And when you’re upset, you don’t want to be tender.

Make a repair drawing
It is a way of saying sorry, and it is better than a punishment, but it does not come from the child, because it is the parent or the teacher who ask him.

The corner / Go to your room
This punishment usually falls when you want the child to calm down and go think. But while he’s angry, his brain can’t do it.

Deprive the child of something he loves (TV, games, dessert, etc.)
It is to humiliate him, to hurt him. This does not lead the child to improve his behavior. This will lead to a real feeling of injustice.

Prevent her from going to a friend’s birthday
Having a social life is important for a child’s self-esteem. Depriving it causes humiliation vis-à-vis his comrades and will lead to frustration and resentment.

What do we do instead?
It is better to offer the child to choose how he could ask for forgiveness or make amends for what he has done, it is a better solution than the punishment.. The idea is not to overwhelm him but to find solutions by giving him a few leads: hug him, fix the game he broke, write a word, draw a picture, clean up … better to forget the immediate excuses. that hurt them more than they make them think. We start by calming the child, but we ask him to think later, when things are better. Ask him questions and let him answer so that he develops other reflexes the next time the situation arises (“What could you do to make your sister less upset? How can you show your regret?”). He must be taught to have discernment, to act in free conscience.

How about trying the family council?
Each week, get together to review the challenges you have encountered over the past few days. Expose the problem in seconds without overwhelming the child. The whole family must find solutions to help him. Each person suggests something and then the child chooses what he prefers. The goal ? Empower yourself to educate and develop your ability to react differently the next time.