10 manieren om kinderen te (bege)leiden zonder straf! Hoe dan?
On alternatives to punishment, we asked parents, “Why do you punish?”
“If you don’t punish them, they’ll try to get away with theft.”
“Sometimes I get so frustrated, then I can’t think of anything else.”
‘I put it on the stairs, because otherwise I’ll go through the ribbon myself.’
“I punish my son, because that’s all he understands.”
“How will my child learn to change his behavior if I don’t punish him?”
Do you remember from the past that you were punished and what you felt or thought then?
“I hated my mom and I thought, ‘She’s such a cripple’ and then I immediately felt guilty again.”
“I thought, ‘My father is right, I’m a bad person; I deserve punishment.'”
“I fantasized that I would get very sick and that they would regret what they had done to me.”
“I remember thinking, ‘They’re so mean, I’ll get them. I’ll just do it again, but then I’ll make sure they don’t find out.”
The more these parents talked, the more they became aware that punishment can lead to hatred, revenge, contradiction, guilt, feeling inferior, and self-pity. But still, they kept their worries: “But if I don’t punish my children, won’t I give them way too much power?” “I’m afraid I’ll lose my last means of control and I’ll have nothing more to say.” “When can you punish a child you ignore or despise? Shouldn’t there be consequences for children who misbehave?’
A child should experience the consequences of his bad behavior, but not through punishment. In a caring relationship there is no place for punishment. Punishment doesn’t work, because it’s a distraction. Instead of the child regretting it and figuring out how to make amends, he engages in fantasies about how to get revenge.
What is the difference between punishment and natural consequences? Punishment means that the parent intentionally denies or hurts a child for a certain period of time, in order to teach the child a lesson. Experiencing consequences is a natural result of the child’s behavior.
What can you do if you don’t want to punish?
Time Out = Time With
The Time-Out method in which a child is set aside for a while so that he can relax is not a good solution. A child who does not behave well should not be sent away, even for a moment. But of course he has to stop and be rebuked: ‘Sebastian, don’t hit! You can tell your sister how angry you get when she pulls your sleeve every time you’re drawing.’ By isolating Sebastiaan, this behavior can stop for a while, but you ignore the underlying problem. What Sebastiaan doesn’t need is a Time-Out. What he does need is a Time-With: personal attention from a caring parent. A parent who helps him process his feelings and tries to find a better way to deal with them. For example, the mother might say, “It’s not easy when you have a sister who’s always pulling on you to get attention. Today it made you so angry that you beat her. Sebastian, I don’t accept my children beating each other. We’re going to make a list of things you can do if she harasses you while you’re drawing.’ Sebastiaan can hang his list of solutions everywhere and decide for himself when he looks at it. He is no longer seen as a bad person who is sent away, but as a responsible person who can deal with his anger in many ways.
Parents, especially when given time to think about it, appear to be very resourceful in coming up with alternatives to punishment. During an “alternatives to punishment” session, a mother talked about her son who regularly misbehaves in a supermarket. For this situation, the parents came up with the following suggestions:
“The mother and child could practice at home in a fake store containing a number of fake items. While they play the scene, the mother and her child can go through the rules of conduct in a supermarket.’ ‘They could make a simple book with drawings together: Jasper goes to the supermarket. The booklet can include Jasper’s responsibilities as a full member of the store team — the one who pushes the cart, puts groceries in, takes it out and cleans it up. Or Jasper could – with the help of his mother – make a shopping list, written or drawn, with the groceries he has to take and put in the cart.’
These suggestions are all intended to be preventive. For those times when we have no foresight or no energy, below is the step-by-step plan alternatives to punishment:
Step-by-step plan How2talk2kids Alternatives to Punishment
1. Express your strong disapproval (without attacking the child’s character).
“I don’t like this! It bothers other people when kids run down the aisles!’
2. Name your expectations.
“I expect you to walk quietly and stay with the cart.”
3. Tell the child how he can/should improve.
“We run outside, we walk in the supermarket. Do you want to pick 3 big lemons for us?’
4. Give a choice.
“Jasper, stop running. You can choose, either just walk or sit in the cart. You choose.’
If the child continues…
5. Take action.
(Put Jasper quietly in the cart.) “You’ve chosen to sit in the cart!”
6. Let the child experience the consequences of his behavior.
Suppose he continues to misbehave and his mother is forced to leave the store. The next day, without preaching or moralizing, she can let him experience the consequences of his behavior.
“Mom, where are you going?”
“I want to go.”
“Today you’re staying with Daddy.”
“Why do you think?”
“Because I ran around the store?”
“I won’t do it again, really won’t, can I come with you, please, please, please?”
“There will still be plenty of times when you can join us. Today I’m going alone.’