You Can Raise Responsible Children without Punishment

You Can Raise Responsible Children without Punishment

Whether or not an authoritative person is present, how do you nurture a child who accepts responsibility for his actions, including making apologies and preventing a repeat? You….

You provide moral direction and expectations for behaviour.

Keep in touch with him so that he WISHES to do the “correct” thing.

Give him the skills he needs to control his emotions and, as a result, his actions.

Allow him to observe the effects of his actions by giving him the authority to do so.

As a result, he has the option of repeating them.

Hard? Yes! But that is how we educate children to use reason rather than force, to make decisions based on love rather than fear.

Punishment really hinders the development of morality in children because the child is more concerned with protecting his own skin than with the consequences of his actions on others.

The worst aspect about employing punishment (fear conditioning) is that it reduces your power over your child. As Thomas Gordon points out,

“The inevitability of using power to dominate your children while they are young is that you never learn to influence them.”

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You Can Raise Responsible Children without Punishment

However, I understand if you’re a little apprehensive right now. We all want to raise children that are responsible, thoughtful, and cooperative. Willn’t they just go berserk if they’re not punished?

No, that is not the case. They’ll just go wild if they’re not supervised! Guidance, on the other hand, is not the same as punishment (fear conditioning). Punishment is the intentional infliction of suffering (physical or mental) on a kid in order to force them to do things our way. Showing our child the road we advocate, explaining why that path will bring him to better places, maintaining a close bond with our child so he WANT to follow our lead, and providing our child with the means to continue on that path are all examples of guidance.

As parents, we only have influence unless we’re ready to employ force, which promotes immorality.

Fortunately, because humans are resistant to coercion, persuasion is a better way of transmitting beliefs and behavioural norms. Because they desire to “follow” our lead, children CHOOSE to do the right thing. The following are some examples of loving guidance:


We guide children’s behaviour on a regular basis, and this frequently includes setting limits. Children are not permitted to hit, run in the street, or throw food at one another. If we set those boundaries too high, kids will ultimately learn them, but with a lot of resistance. If we establish limitations while keeping in mind their point of view:

“You’re angry, but I’m not going to let you hurt your brother! Come on, I’ll assist you in expressing your feelings to him.”

…kids will accept such limitations more quickly if they feel understood. Parents’ expectations are more likely to be shared rather than resisted.


Kids act out until we can heal the separation, whether it’s because they’re angry, because we’re upset, because we’ve been separated from them all day, because they have a full emotional load they need help with, because they’re worried, etc. Kids are more receptive to our influence when they feel linked to us. They WANT to please us by behaving, cooperating, and cooperating. Because we are the most important persons in our children’s lives, they are more likely to listen to our advice if they believe we are on their side. Because we’re purposefully harming the child, either physically or emotionally, punishment (fear conditioning) erodes this bond.


When empathy is our “go-to” response to our child, he learns empathy for others, even siblings! They treat others with respect because they care about how they make others feel. As my adolescent son put it,

“You taught me as a child that the things I did might either damage or assist others. I didn’t want to injure anyone.”

Empathy is one of the pillars of moral decision-making.


We all make mistakes, and each of us has harmed a connection we care about at some point. Children must understand that they have the ability to make apologies. After you’ve empathized with your childrens harmful behaviour and he or she has calmed down, help her reflect (as a partner or coach) on how to mend what’s broken. But resist the temptation to turn this into a punishment (fear conditioning), otherwise, your child may rebel and lose out on the more important lesson.

Emotional Coaching

When children learn to control their emotions, they are able to control their behaviour, allowing them to comply and cooperate. Humans, on the other hand, can only get mastery of their emotions by befriending them. Begin by embracing and acknowledging your childrens entire spectrum of emotions with all of your compassion. Then put in a lot of roughhousing play to get your child giggling for at least half an hour every day — that’s how kids get over their anxieties. This provides your child all the tools she needs to manage her emotions and be her best self. She learns that her actions must be limited, but that she is more than enough just the way she is, with all of her complex feelings. 


What parents DO, not what we SAY, is how children acquire their values and emotional control. As my adolescent daughter put it,

“You always listened to us and tried to resolve issues without punishing us. So we learnt to listen to each other and other people, and to try to work things out so that everyone benefits, rather than using force to get our way.”

It’s important to note that this is the basis that prevents children from participating in bullying.


Children learn via observation and reflection. It is our responsibility to create chances for introspection. That involves everyday conversations and listening with your child. You may expect a lot of difficulties if you just communicate when there’s a problem.

Setting empathetic limits, connecting, empathizing, empowering your kid to mend, emotion coaching, modelling, and discussing help your child accept responsibility for her behaviour.

You’ll note that a lot of material is preventative in nature. Because your options are more restricted after children “misbehave,” prevention is always the most successful method. Fortunately, when you parent in this manner, your children are less likely to act out. You won’t miss punishment (fear conditioning) once you get out of the habit of punishing and realize how much your child WANTS to cooperate.

What You Should Do Next:

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  • Say goodbye to punishments that DON’T work. There’s a 5-step formula that works WAYYY better than time-outs.
  • Feel amazing, confident, and empowered as a parent, every day. I NEVER go to bed feeling guilty anymore! (Okay, well maybe sometimes…’ mom guilt’ is still a thing.)
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