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Consequences and Punishments.

Hi Parents! Shall we talk about Consequences and Punishments?

Many times I’m asked “what’s the difference between punishments and consequences?” So here it goes:

Punishment - loss or pain imposed on someone because of their “bad behavior”. Like a bucket of icy water thrown at one’s face out of the blue, because of not picking up the socks left in the living room. Or unexpectedly losing the right to play video games for a week for fighting with a sibling. Or losing the right to have dessert due to bad grades in school. In a punishment there’s no warning (the person had no idea this was going to be the result of their behavior), no choice (since the person had no idea of what was going to happen they could not gauge their behavior and consider behaving differently), no connection to the “bad behavior” (what does cold water have to do with socks?, or video games with siblings?, or dessert with grades?!) and no healthy lesson learned (“I’d better do as told or unexpected mean things will happen to me” + “Wow, revenge is a powerful way to impose myself on someone and gain control over them.”  The person/child ends up complying in the future not because they understand the value of the rule/boundary, but out of fear, and they then start behaving in this same way with younger children/friends. Is this what we want for our kids?

Let’s take a look at what a consequence is then.

Consequence - the result of a conscious choice. It’s respectful of the person and their freedom to choose, it is directly related to the behavior in question and there is a positive lesson learned. Example: “Until your socks are not on your feet and your coat on your body, we can’t leave to the party.” The child knows in advance what will be the consequence of their “bad behavior” and can therefore choose if they want to put their socks and coat on and go to the party, or not. There is also a legitimate connection between what’s expected from the child and the consequence of not doing it (“you need socks and coat to get out of the house”). Last, there’s healthy learning: “I didn’t get dressed and we didn’t go to the party. It was my choice.” + “My parent is a serious person. They mean what they say.” + “They (parent) said that to go to a party/leave the house one needs to dress accordingly.” + ”Next time I want to go to a party I need to get dressed.”  

Now that you know the difference, you can make a difference in your child’s life ♥️

See you around!



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