Numerous studies have shown it: punishment is ineffective. Not only do they cause emotional scars, but they have also proved useless for educational purposes.
A child who is spanked or shouted angry, probably will stop behaving badly, but only out of fear and not because he has internalized what is right to do.
The pedagogist Daniele Novara explains in his latest book “Punishing is no use” that
children should not be terrified, but educated to grow well . And to do this it takes a good educational organization.
Read also: How to be obeyed by children without screaming (and why it’s better)
To build it, parents must take three steps back (points 1,2,3) and three steps forward (points 4,5,6):
1. Do not scream or punish
“The parent must realize that being angry and reacting on instinct are elements of weakness and weakness, they do not induce a sense of authority in their children, but only a sense of disorientation, and then affect the psychological level”.
2. Keep the educational distance: the children will feel closer to you
Too confidently risks breaking down the distinction of role and putting the parent in a position of little usefulness for growth.
Today parents spend much more time with their children than in the past and despite this they feel guilty, especially the working mothers. But being with them all weekend is more than enough.
Parents must be parents, not playmates, nor lovers.
“In fact, excessive confidence can also lead to exaggerated fussiness: from kisses on the mouth, to calling the child” love “, to make him sleep in the Latvian … All actions that lead to exchange the child for the partner. a case that divorces occur in greater numbers among couples with children “warns Novara, who adds: ” for a healthy family balance the parental couple must have its spaces, in which the children must never enter “.
3. Do not talk to him too much
Children must have clear and simple rules, so it is useless to make speeches, give an over-explanation. For example, it is right to say: “Before going to bed you have to brush your teeth, like mum and dad”, while it is useless to explain the importance of oral hygiene to prevent tooth decay. A speech of this kind would not be understandable.
“The child needs educational clarity, he trusts his parents, he does not need to be explained to him all the time why he has to do this.” The paradox of our days is that parents tend to talk to young children as if they were grown-ups. and at the same time they treat teenagers as if they were young children “.
4. Team play
Mothers and fathers must share decisions about child rearing. Parents must establish together what the rules are.
“Often mothers do not trust fathers and tend to cut them off, but this is extremely detrimental to the growth of children”.
The lack of agreement between two parents risks producing emotional tensions.
“The whims, in most cases are childish behavior that the child performs to induce the father and mother to agree”.
To improve the parental couple’s teamwork, we need to “reduce the words that are used with the children and increase the ones that address the other parent”.
To conclude: first parents must agree on important choices, and then communicate them to the child.
But beware: only one of them must speak. If things are repeated by both, it seems that parents do not trust each other. If, on the other hand, communication makes it only one, it is clear that parents have already spoken about it before.
This also applies to separate couples who must find common agreements on the main issues.
5. Give good rules
First of all we need to define what a rule is: the rule is an organizational procedure , for example: time to go to bed, wash hands before meals, how much TV to watch …
It must therefore be understandable and precise, not to excessive explanations; must be appropriate to age; it does not have to be a command (like: eat, sleep! …); not a prohibition (prohibitions, eg: “that is not touched!” are important, but are good for young children, up to two, three years); it does not have to be an exhortation to convince someone: “I beg you”, “come on”.
Read also: Children, how to teach respect for the rules
The rules must be clear and simple. For example: “After dinner you read a story and then go to bed”; “from tonight you learn to make the folder alone”; “you can play with the tablet half an hour a day after you finish your homework”.
Rules can only be negotiated with teenagers. Negotiation does not exist with children.
6. Stay in your place, children will always be there
The border parents and children today has become very loose and this situation Novara summarizes with the expression: “the children on top” : all in the bathroom together, all in the Latvian, all to play ….
But if you break down the border, then it is not easy to recreate it when needed to give educational rules . The friendly parents are no longer authoritative and so they feel compelled to resort to threats and punishments to be respected.
Novara also warns to avoid kissing their children on the mouth . “This is a boyfriend’s attitude: the lips represent a erogenous zone, so kissing the children on the mouth contains a very confusing element and signals a sort of excessive sentimental symbiosis”.
Keeping a proper distance from the children helps to implement good educational methods “avoiding getting caught up in emotional traps and activating punitive modalities”.
Furthermore , educational distance is fundamental in the construction of autonomy. The carelessness prevents three years of walking alone without a stroller, five to go to the bathroom alone and clean, eight to prepare the folder for themselves.
The clear rules, agreed between parents, prevent parents from turning into children’s helpers instead of educators and resorting to punitive methods to recover their role.
7. Active silence
Here is a technique that can work both with young children particularly “tyrannical” or with preadolescents or adolescents.
What is it about? It is a question of suspending verbal communication with the children . It must be implemented only in particularly serious situations, it must provoke a surprise in the children who do not expect this reaction of the parents.
For example, in the face of excessive behavior of a child, the parent can say “Mum and Dad are amazed at what happened, this behavior is not good, and now they will be silent for a while”.
That said it is important not to react to the attitudes that can be followed by the child. The parent must not manifest anger. The time of silence can vary from age: a few minutes for small children, a full day or even two for teenagers.
“The purpose of active silence is to lower emotional tension and prevent rage from spreading”.
Daniele Novara is one of the organizers of the “Parents School” that every year organizes meetings around the themes of parenting around Italy. And during these meetings, on October 21st and 24th, in Rome and Milan, he will talk about the book “Punishing is not for nothing”.