Children and Punishment


I have been trying several disciplinary strategies with
my child and none seem to work. Do you have any


I often am presented with this question in my practice.
Parents are frustrated because their children seem to
not respond to anything they try. Children are frustrated
because it seems like they do "everything wrong and
nothing right." As you can see, everyone is frustrated
and no knows what to do next.
First, it is important to remember what discipline is and
what it is not. Discipline is not punishment alone. In this
case, discipline is teaching your children what is
appropriate or inappropriate (right or wrong) with the
goal that they eventually will become self-sufficient
adults who are making wise choices based on principles
instilled from childhood. Yes punishment, or negative
consequences, are a part of discipline but so are
encouragement, praise, and quality time with parents
and children. Too many times, the discipline gets out of
balance and detrimental discipline occurs when the
scales are tipped too far in either direction.
Given the nature of your question, it seems as if the
scales are heavy on the punishment side. Keep in mind
this is frustrating for your child, too. All interactions are
interpreted as negative. Even if they do not begin this
way, preconceived ideas of "here we go again" often
turn them into arguments.
I f this sounds like your situation, then what you are
about to read next may surprise you. Ease off a bit.
Concentrate on the positive characteristics of your child
and communicate them to your child. Have fun
interactions with your child. Develop a relationship in which 
they can better hear your teaching. No technique
will work to achieve the end you want if the relationship
you have with your child is negative.
It also is possible that you are using techniques that
either are inappropriate for the infraction or the age of
your child. I f so, we can help. Another possibility is that
your child may be depressed, anxious, or have another
disorder that is interfering with discipline. A professional
opinion could be valuable at this point.

For additional information, contact The Rice Clinic.

Answered by: Dr. Julie Howard, Ph.D.