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Punishment for Children

Some experts insist that all punishment for children is ineffective. However, the problem isn't so much that punishment itself is ineffective, but that it isn't applied properly and balanced with positive reinforcement. Your preschool and kindergarten-age children need to experience punishment, but they also need to experience positive parenting through reinforcement. Punishment can be thought of as a consequence. We all know that our actions have consequences. Children need to learn that too. Punishment, applied properly, teaches kids that their actions have consequences, but, more importantly, positive parenting, through positive reinforcement helps kids confidently apply good behavior to all aspects of their lives.

How to Turn Punishment for a Child into Positive Discipline

Most parents agree that a child that is fighting with another child needs to be removed from the situation and placed in quiet time. Most parents also agree that a child that throws a toy needs to have that toy taken away. These are both discipline for children in the form of punishments; they are consequences, and they are appropriate. Spanking is not a positive form of punishment or discipline for a child. It doesn't do much to teach consequences. Punishment can be useful in preventing misbehavior in situations that require immediate intervention, but positive reinforcement should be used to bring out best behavior.

The Difference Between Punishment for Kids and Reinforcement

Punishment is a tool that decreases the likelihood of certain behaviors. Reinforcement increases the likelihood of certain behaviors. In some cases, you may have to immediately act to discourage a behavior – punishment. In most cases, you should do what you can to encourage positive behaviors – reinforcement.

Reinforcement through Charting

Preschoolers and kindergartners have short memories, but they respond well to visual reminders. Behavior charts are a great way to remind your child that she is using good behavior and doing a great job. Use a chart designed to reinforce good behavior and have your child place stickers or checkmarks by each behavior she gets right. List behaviors such as picking up toys without being told, offering help to someone else, doing chores, etc. Target specific behaviors that your child has particular trouble with. Use a point system and give your young children small rewards often to reinforce the behaviors you want to improve.