Why punishment and smacking doesn`t work for us

Why punishment and smacking doesn`t work for us

I grew up being punished, I think we all did. Because that`s what our parents did and thought was the right thing to do. I do not blame them. I was smacked and later on grounded when I did something “wrong”. It made me feel horrible about myself. I spent time alone in my room which I remember well. I cried a lot as I felt alone. I never felt heard.

Today I am an adult and I recognize honestly how things could have been different. I now have two small children. I want my children to feel like they can tell me anything. I want them to feel heard, loved and respected and I want them to be well behaved, respectful and considerate of others.  I believe the way to help them is to show them how to behave. Children learn everything from you. So we don’t hit them. We don’t shout at them. We don’t punish them. We talk to them. It was hard in the beginning when we adopted this approach. Our minds kept saying but this isn’t working. It is still hard. But we are seeing results as they grow older.   

Consider this. If a child is smacked or punished, does the result differ compared to if you had just sat down and talked to her about what had happened? This is the key. Ask yourself honestly. Have you tried this approach to prove whether the results differ? Parents often assume punishment will achieve the desired result (this approach seems to be engrained in us). But does it? Perhaps if you punish hard enough or smack often enough, sure. But what has been lost in this process- your connection and their trust. Nothing could be more detrimental than losing this. Because it`s this connection that motivates the child to “do good”. Do we want our children to be good people because they were afraid of being punished? Or do we want them to be mature, socially adjusted, honest humans who behave in a certain way because they have a good moral compass? When we punish a child, they focus on what is happening to them rather than what they did that was wrong in the first place. They become more selfish and may not develop empathy for others.  Punishment makes the child feel bad about themselves not what they did. Developing a sense of empathy is key to success in life.

So my advice is to take a step back. There does not need to be a fear based consequence in response to undesirable behavior (if you don’t do X I am going to give you a smack.” I mean let’s be honest how successful is this any ways?). Children are learning about the world. And we are their teachers. Without open communication lines, children don’t actually learn anything. Next time you feel the need to punish, sit your little boy down and have a chat. Explain to him why what he did was not right. Explain to him we don’t behave in that way because of X. Children want to make you proud. Explain that that kind of behavior does not make you feel proud.  If he is very young and is out of control, consider spending more focused one on one time together daily. Time together is really everything. A child that feels connected to you changes the relationship. Punishment is not the solution here for long term harmony in the family.

Children need only one thing from us- time. Daily time spent together. It fills their cups. Full cups that feel loved, supported and heard go out into the world feeling happy. And happiness doesn’t need discipline 😊

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.