Handing Children Punishment – Why and Why Not?

Every parent wants their child to grow up into a magnificent person, health, wealth and values all rolled into one. But getting to that destination is not easy. Disciplining a child is tough at times, because however much you dole out punishment in pounds to go, in the end, the child is yours and you can never be too harsh on any part of you.

There are several theories about how a child’s awry behavior needs to be dealt with. Some point out that harsh physical punishments are necessary to discipline the child, while others say that only love can bring him/her to the straight path. But how far can these two go without merging on to a single road? Do harsh punishments discipline a child or do they lead the child further into rebellion? And do soft dismissals of their behavior lead them to develop the notion that whatever wrong they might do, they are always going to be let off?


Research points to the fact that physical punishment does nothing to further the child’s development and effectively turns the child into a rebel. Though here in India, at one time, it was perfectly normal to see a parent hitting a child to discipline him/her, in some other countries, it is considered child abuse. Due to a staggering mental evolution, India is moving forward and gradually showing that physical punishment will not be tolerated anymore.

The wrongness of physical punishment does not preach that soft dismissals of a child’s erratic behavior is correct. Soft dismissals make a child more complacent about what he or she does. They, in their formative years, learn a massive bundle of things and as the idea forms in their head that come what may, they will be forgiven, it leads them on to things that are much worse in dimension and impact.

So what is the right way to let a child know that what he/she has done is wrong and to prevent it from happening again?

There are certain ways in which you can get a child to understand the rights and the wrongs of their doings. Reward them when they do something good. Instill the knowledge of rules in your house, not too rigid that the child feels restricted but just enough to mold them the right way. Omit rewards when they do something wrong and let them know that this is going to be the norm. Repeat the rules over and over again, not as a threat, but to make them understand the difference between right and wrong. Spend time with them and teach them little things; this way, they will feel connected and not want to go about breaking rules. And most importantly, your children will learn the ways of the world from you. So show them first-hand and be consistent in what you teach and how you behave.

A child’s first role models are his/her parents. Handing punishment may be the kneejerk reaction to a child’s wrongdoing, but before chastising the child, take a deep breath and know which way you want to go.

About the Author

Sonali Dabade

Sonali Vijay Dabade is a professional freelance writer. She has been writing and editing for some time now, with a special interest in children’s and family subjects. Prior to writing, she loves reading all sorts of books, relish travelling and has a deep affection for music. She believes herself as a spirited dreamer and an admiring thinker.

Sonali helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids’ lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you’re wondering “what’s the right age for…?” With an extensive and abiding interest in children and bossing people around, her role as a parenting expert brings her skills and obsessions together in perfect harmony.

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