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Using Punishment to Discipline: Does it Work?


Using Punishment to Discipline

This blog post has been contributed by Parenting Matters (http://parentingmatters.in/), a Chennai-based organisation which partners with parents to build skillsfor deeper connection in families. It provides platforms for parents to learn together with input from trained facilitators. It conducts programs, workshops and also aims at spreading awareness on parenting through articles for magazines, talks with experts and its blog. This blog has been written by Sujata Vasant Dewaji, a facilitator at Parenting Matters.

I hear this from a few parents.

“I have to hit, for her to comply, else she just does not listen. There is so much to do in the day, her studies, homework, other activities… and if she does not complete on time, she will be left behind!”

“He is so stubborn. How do I teach good behaviour? This is the time to mould him to behave well”.

Did it work for me?

I remember. I was in my teens. Very vividly I remember the one slap I got in my life. I had ‘misbehaved’ with an aunt. I had said, ‘I do not like her and I do not want to go with her’.

I felt the anger emanating from the other side, the hard contact of the hand on my cheek, the smarting, stinging pain that seared my head, the reeling back and my sobs. Anger building within me as a reaction. I was made to apologise. I did it with resentment. I was furious with everyone in the room, those directly and indirectly responsible for this situation!

An adult and a parent now, on hindsight, I realise I was rude. It was not the right way to speak to an elder. But I don’t think I learnt to behave well after I was corrected in that manner. Was I remorseful of my misbehaviour? Not one bit. I was too angry to think of what I had done. Where was the space to ponder over my mistake, to realise it and to accept it? The space was filled being too sorry for myself and too angry with the person who slapped me. It made me feel so insignificant.

To spank or not to spank?

While discussing this question in the parenting group, one said, “I do not think my parents did anything wrong, I have grown up to be fine, actually it has done me good.”  I say, ”Fine, I am not arguing with that, but tell me did you feel good about it then?  Did you at that time think, ‘yes, I did wrong and I need to be corrected this way?”. Another parent said, “I wish I was not, the scars of pain are still here, it has left me feeling unworthy”, pointing to her heart.

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ParentEdge is a bi-monthly magazine for discerning Indian parents who would like to actively contribute to their children’s education, intellectual enrichment and stimulation. The magazine’s premise is that learning is a continuous process, and needs to happen both in and outside of school; thus parents have an important role to play in shaping their children’s interests and intellect.


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