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Consequences versus punishment

Consequences versus punishment

  • A consequence is the result or direct effect of an action. 

> Consequences give your child the message that he is capable of taking responsibility for problems and can handle them.

  • Punishment is defined by Merriam-Webster as “suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution.

> Punishment can cause resentment and rarely teaches a child what you want him to learn. It also can be damaging to your child’s self-esteem and does not facilitate secure attachment.


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Why punishment doesn’t work

Why punishment doesn’t work

  • It backfires. Punishment is almost always delivered with anger.
  • It is temporary. Punishment teaches children to respond out of fear rather than out of a desire to please or do the right thing.
  • It reinforces the child’s negative view of self. It creates an expectation by the child and others of additional bad behavior.
  • It provokes revenge, makes the child feel angry and resentful.
  • It maintains emotional distance. Punishment feeds into their defenses against being close and reinforces a “me against you” mentality.


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Instead of punish

Instead of punish

Three steps:

1. Tell your child to sit for a brief time to think about her behaviors and choices.

2. When you are ready, not when your child demands, go to your child.

3. If your child responds appropriately — with honesty and without blaming others — give praise, a big hug, a warm smile and the assurance that all is forgiven. If your child does not respond appropriately, say, “I guess you need more time to think it over. I’ll be back soon.”


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Wife. Smart wife. Smarter daughter


Parents are often unclear about the difference between consequences and punishment and the end result.

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