Monday, July 1, 2013

Punishment is not the solution to all behavioral problems

Earlier this month we went for a event for the kids, barely 15mins into the event DinoBoy was involved in a shoving match with another boy; who is teeny bit taller and bigger built then him.

I was standing a little distance away from them and I saw the whole incident.  This boy wanted to get to the front of the group, he squeezed through his way roughly and shoved DinoBoy which resulted in DinoBoy losing his balance and knocking into a younger boy standing behind him.  He raised his voice and told the boy "Hey! Don't PUSH!".  The boy looked at him; ok to be exact he was sizing DinoBoy from head to toe, perhaps seeing that DinoBoy is smaller size then him, he elbowed him hard just below the sternum causing a sharp pain.  DinoBoy gave a loud "OOWWW!" and elbowed the boy's back, HARD! 

I quickly moved in to intervene as the boy looked like he is going to do something to DinoBoy which all of us will regret.  I said a hurried "Oh so sorry about that, are you ok?" to the boy then turned to lead DinoBoy away who was starting to protest as he knew he had done a couple of wrong things; 1. shouted at the boy 2. laid his hands or in this case, elbow on the boy.

As I stood there facing an angry DinoBoy with his fists clenched and face scrunched up in fiery, instead of bombarding him with all the "You should not" "Why did you", I simply bent down and hugged him.  His body was tensed up and he was trying to let me know in an angry tone that he is not at fault, I hugged him tighter and rubbed his back, telling him that its ok, I saw the whole incident and I understand how he is feeling right now.  Gradually his body relaxed and he calmed down.

Then I looked at him in his eyes and we talked serious talk.  Yes, it was wrong for the other boy to do what he did but it is also wrong of him to hurt the boy.  He should have come to me for help, which my best solution may probably be to comfort him and tell him to "stay away from that boy.", not a very good solution but at least there no confrontation needed.  I let him know that usually his such action will mean that he will be punished (removal of certain privilege) but since it was obvious that the other boy started it, I will not punished him this time however he must remember that such action or behavior is unacceptable and he should think about the correct way to react to situation instead of using physical force.

With that, I let him returned to the group and through out the whole event he kept an eye on the boy, making sure that he is not any where near him.

*** *** ***

The 5 Love Languages of Children said "Punishment is the most negative and also the most difficult method of control.  First, the punishment must fit the crime because children are so aware of fairness.  They know when a punishment is too lenient or severe.  They can also detect inconsistency in their parents' attitude toward the children in the family.  Second, the punishment may not be appropriate for the particular child. Sending a child to his room, for example, may feel very painful to one sibling and seem like a playtime to another.  Third, punishment brings with it variation, since parents often rely on their feelings when they are dishing out a punishment.  When everything is going their way and they are feeling good they tend to be more lenient.  On bad days, when a parent isn't feeling very good, the punishment meted out is harsher."

Source unknown
 "When everything is going their way and they are feeling good they tend to be more lenient.  On bad days, when a parent isn't feeling very good, the punishment meted out is harsher." I have to agree with this because I was guilty as charged.  I have punished DinoBoy both physically, verbally and had his privileges removed way too many times that I am starting to think that I am the evil queen or evil step mothers in the fairy tales.   For every punishment I dished out, the guilt in me made me love him double the amount.  I have hugged him and apologised to him so many times, talked to him about the reason for my behaviour, we always come to an agreement that we will not let it repeat again but the cycle just goes on and on.

When I read the above paragraph few months ago I know things have to change for the benefit of him and us.  Since then I have tried my very best to abolish physical punishment, which has taken all my will power at that moment of time to stop myself from raising my hands and landing it onto DinoBoy, thank goodness so far I have succeed.  Privileges will still be taken away if he show undesirable behavior but not before I let him know when he had crossed the line and he understood that the punishment was given due to the severity of the undesired behavior.

Frankly, raising a spirited child who can be defiant and as stubborn as a mule is really difficult at most times.  I have more bad days then good days that I wear a frown unknowingly on my face and was having nagging headaches which I attributed to bad sleeping posture plus work stress.  Later I discovered that it was the stress given to me by a certain boy.  Now that I am able to connect with DinoBoy, understand his emotions and see things from his point of view, things are better.  We can even discuss about an issue and a better way to handle a situation or problem.

I would love to banish "Punishment" out of our household eventually but I know its not going to happen till perhaps a year later *crossing my fingers* as I feel that we have still have to work on his emotions issues.  So, till then we shall fight on!

~ ~ ~

Join me as I continue to embrace and embark on the positive parenting journey. If you like to share tips or your story on positive parenting, please grab my linky button and add your link below so that many more parents can benefit from it.  This linky will be ongoing, you can add your post in the link any time you want but my post will be up on the last day of every month so that I can look back and reflect on some of the parenting things that happened.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


  1. It is so hard to find the right balance. You want your children to learn from your experiences and to share your values, but at the same time, you want to provide them the opportunity to grow and make their own mistakes.

    I have a child with Aspberger's Syndrome and some days I don't respond as positively as I could to situations. This often results in my apologizing for losing my cool.

    1. Hi Heather, I didn't know about Aspberger's Syndrome and googled it. I know its difficult for you but I cannot imagine the things you are going through daily, it must have been very hard. I hope it gets better for you soon.

  2. An important topic! Your honesty is appreciated.