Let me ask you a question.
Are you in this parenting gig for the short term or the long haul?
Are you, like I am, all in for the next 20 years or are you like next week I’ll probably send my kids off to boarding school?
Most of us are all in. We have grand plans of running the race and big hopes of raising our kids into amazing adults.
I have to tell you something right now, it may make you want to stop being my friend.
Using punishment to discipline your kids is not the best way to raise your children into amazing adults.
Let’s define what I’m talking about when I say punishment.
I mean any consequence designed by an adult to make a child to feel like he/she is bad or pours out shame and disconnection.
(If you need some ideas for what to do instead… I’ve got you covered)
I’m not talking about actual natural consequences. Example: Your child refuses to put on mittens before going outside on a cold day. Consequence, her hands get cold. This is a consequence you did not impose. You just allowed it to happen.
I’ll be honest here, in the short term punishment works well. It accomplishes what we want… to stop the misbehavior that’s happening right now.
In the long term it creates a divide with our kids. It disconnects us.
Punishment doesn’t cure “bad” behavior. It sends the message to our kids that
- Next time they want to break the rules they better be really sneaky in order to get away with it.
- If they are struggling we are not a safe place to turn.
- They are bad and not worthy of kindness and respect unless the are good.
Now I’ve had plenty of parents tell me that when they punish their kids they make sure it’s about the behavior and not the kid.
To which I say bull shit.
The behavior is long gone and it is your child who is sitting there on the naughty stool feeling all of the shame.
If you’ve been around here for a while, you might be all like… Umm Sarah are you saying that we should just let our kids get away with their crimes? Because that doesn’t jive with what you’ve been telling us.
I’m still about having rules and boundaries in your home and I believe that can be accomplished with conversations and contributions from your children.
Here’s what I want you to take away from this post.
If you’re on this parenting journey for the long haul, you need to make connection the most important part of your parenting game.
It is the foundation you build all of the other plays on.
View your kids behavior as :
1. Communication. Are their physical needs met? What are they struggling with?
2. A mistake that is a learning opportunity.
Become their ally. Help them figure out what to do better next time.
Be a problem solver not a blame finder or a punisher.
Those of you who are moving into shame mode because you’ve been punishing your kids as your go to method of parenting… stop right there. You did the best you knew how and when you know better you do better.