No parent likes to punish their child. Still, it’s important that this happens sometimes. After all, parenting is part of your job as a parent. But what is the best way to do this? Nowadays, experts recommend a method that allows children to experience the natural consequences of their behaviour. This goes as follows:
The three ‘R’s
Your child is more likely to learn from the consequences of his actions when done in a respectful, reasonable, relatable way.
Respectful: respectful means that your punishment is not accompanied by shame and humiliation. Your child already feels bad because he has done something wrong. Rubbing it in or humiliating him with it reduces the chance that he will learn something from it. He will focus more on guilt than on learning from this experience.
Reasonable: In this case reasonableness means that you are punishing your child with a task he has taken on. You should take into account his age, knowledge and the seriousness of the offense. This allows your child to focus on what he did wrong instead of causing anger towards you.
Relatable: Relatable is the opposite of random. So when your child makes junk, the logical consequence is that she has to clean it up and not play on her Ipad, for example. The punishment should be related to the offense.
Link consequences to natural tasks
When you tell your child not to watch TV if he doesn’t do the laundry, he will see it as unnatural punishment and learn nothing from it. There is no clear connection between doing laundry and watching TV. However, when you tell him he can watch TV after he has done the laundry, you put more emphasis on a principle. Namely that you do what you have to do before you can do what you want to do. In this way there is a connection between doing laundry and watching TV. It also sounds more like a lesson and less like a threat.
Frame privileges as rewards
For example, if your child leaves his toy on the floor after playing with it, he loses the privilege of playing with it. You can then throw it away, or if you want to be a little less strict, store the toy in a cupboard of which only you have the key.
This works for both tangible and intangible privileges. For example, if your child keeps hitting his brother and sister, he will lose the privilege of playing with them.
It is also good to apply when your child does something right. For example, if you tell your child that he is only allowed to play video games for an hour and he keeps to this, you give him the privilege of being allowed to do so for an hour every day.
Tell the truth
Parents often forget to apply the easiest strategy. For example, if your child has been annoying all day and then asks if he can have an ice cream, you can tell him that you don’t feel like getting an ice cream with him because he has been annoying all day. The lesson he can draw from this is that when you are annoying people, they are not inclined to do anything for you.
Make sure you have a plan B
Even with these thumb rules, there are situations where punishment with natural consequences will not work. For example, it won’t work if your child doesn’t think the natural consequence is important (e.g. if he doesn’t brush his teeth) or if she experiences a consequence hurting someone else (e.g. you can’t show her what it’s like for someone to throw stones at them).
Also, sometimes you don’t have time to think about a natural consequence for a violation. You may be in a hurry to get somewhere on time.
In these cases it is important that you have a backup plan. Punishing by natural consequence is a good method, but it is one of the many methods you can use.