"There is no place for punishment in Positive Discipline. Why? Hundreds of research projects have demonstrated that punishment is NOT the most effective way to teach positive outcomes. Instead it hurts, it makes others feel bad, and it uses fear as a motivator. Then why would so many parents use punitive or abusive methods? Simple. They believe it works and that they are “doing something” instead of allowing their children to “get away with” misbehaviour. Punishment provides release for their anger and frustration too. Others use punishment because they are conditioned from past experiences and lack of knowledge and skills to use different methods. They believe that a spanking or grounding or taking away privileges is the best way for children to learn. They are convinced children must suffer to learn.
Many parents use punishment because it gives them a sense of being in control - especially when the punishment temporarily stops problems. They don’t want to be permissive and so they think the only alternative is punishment. When these parents step back and take an objective look, they notice that they are punishing for the same behaviour over and over again. That is a pretty good clue that punishment doesn’t work in the long run. If this description fits you, you’ll be happy to know that with Positive Discipline methods you can learn many respectful ways to help your children learn that are neither punitive not permissive.
Some other parents use punishment because human nature is to take the path of least resistance. It is almost impossible to break an old habit until you have something new to replace it. Very little constructive learning can be done with anger and the output of negative energy. When your children think you are angry with them, they often behave worse. Discipline, to be effective, needs to be rational and loving (kind and firm at the same time). While it is fine to tell your child you are angry about a particular behaviour, it is counterproductive to scream out a punishment in anger.
- A child spills his juice. Punitive parents would scream, hit or take the juice away with anger but Positive Discipline parents get a cloth for themselves and one for their child and say “Let’s clean it up together like this… Now you try.”
- A child plays too roughly with a smaller child. Punitive parents scold, argue, nag, threaten and yell. Positive Discipline parents separate the two and tell them both “You two can try again later when you are ready to play more gently.”
- If a toddler hits their parent a punitive parent may hit back, yell or threaten. A Positive Discipline parent takes the toddlers hand and pats themselves with it saying “Pat, pat… be gentle, like this.”
Parents using Positive Discipline don’t ignore problems. They're actively involved in helping their child learn how to handle situations more appropriately while remaining calm, friendly and respectful to the child and themselves." from Positive Discipline A-Z
Ginny Johnstone is a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, consultant and Heal Your Life coach specialising in teaching conscious parenting ideas and self-awareness tools to parents and teachers in South Africa.