negative punishment drawbacks

What Are The Problems With Negative Punishment?

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The drawbacks of using negative punishment when disciplining children.

It’s shocking how many adults still use negative punishment with their kids today.

I see comments such as “just give them a spank, that’ll stop the whining” in response to my how to stop whining in children article, which uses positive parenting to solve the whining issue.

It makes me SO SAD to see this, and I thought maybe the problem is the lack of education on the subject of negative punishment,

So please sit back, relax, and enjoy this explanation of what negative punishment is, examples of it, and how to use positive discipline with your kids instead.

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What is Negative Punishment

Negative punishment is what many parents use as a form of discipline to decrease unwanted behavior within children.

When using this kind of punishment with children, you are taking away something good or desirable away from your child when a particular behavior occurs.

An excellent way to remember this concept is to realize that positive means adding while negative means taking away. 

Many believe that this form of discipline works well, and they continue to practice it in their homes today.

I believe that this practice is “the old way of thinking” and is ineffective. But don’t take my word for it, I did some research to back up my thinking.

Examples Of Negative Punishment

I bet you’ve heard these standard parenting practices, but did you ever realize they might be harmful?

Things like losing toys, losing rewards, and not being allowed to see friends are all examples of negative punishment.

Each of those scenarios includes something good being taken away from the child.

Examples of Negative Punishment in practice

  1. Yelling at a child when they did something wrong
  2. Forcing an unpleasant task on the child when they’ve misbehaved
  3. Taking away toys when toys weren’t played with nicely
  4. Not allowing playdates because something happened one time on a playdate
  5. Not being able to play outside because the child had an attitude

Using Positive Punishment with Children

Positive reinforcement is the opposite of negative punishment and is very common when using authoritarian parenting practice.

Examples of Positive Reinforcement in Practice

  1. A Mom gives her son a hug and praise (reinforcing stimulus) for doing chores without whining (behavior).
  2. A child gets an ice lolly for finishing dinner
  3. A child receives a new toy (reinforcing stimulus) for being a sweet big sister
  4. A mother allows her son to go to the park without supervision for completing all the school work
  5. Removing a specific responsibility off of the child’s plate when the child has done an excellent job on another task
  6. Allowing natural consequences to occur

Related: 4 Types Of Parenting Styles

Problems with Negative Punishment

A huge problem with negative punishment is that it is soul-crushing to your child.

Taking away something they love because they were a little bit naughty is not the best way to handle the behavior.

The right way of handling naughty behavior is to talk to the child and explain why that behavior is not correct.

But when you take something away from your child for naughty behavior, they often won’t get an explanation, and they won’t understand why their toy was taken away.

If the child does not understand why they are being punished, then the punishment is moot.

Another issue with negative punishment is that it is hard to stay consistent for parents.

If children are allowed to “get away” with a particular behavior many times, but one time they get punished for it, then the child is very likely to repeat that offense.

For example, if your child likes to sneak snacks out of the pantry during the day and you don’t really like that behavior, but you allow it somedays because you’re tired and you’ve heard “I’m hungry” enough times that day.

However, if on other days you enforce your rule of no pantry snacks during the day, the child will be perplexed as to why some days snacks are ok, and other days they are not.

This inconsistency is ineffective, thus making the positive punishment moot.

Related: Setting Consequences For Kids Who Do Not Care About Consequences

Positive Punishment: Is It For You?

So now you know some examples and effects of negative punishment.

Do you think you’ll be using it in your home? Do you believe that negative punishment works?

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