Your two year old is having a nervous breakdown and hits you. How to react to this? What is certain is that at such times many parents are unable to control their impulses and end up yelling, threatening, physically assaulting or severely punishing the child. But, is this the solution? In fact, not really.
The child should receive a punishment or sanction aimed at correcting his bad behavior, no one doubts that. But, what punishment? Punishing our children, and doing it the right way, is no easy task … Read on and find out how to get there!
There are many ways parents can react to inappropriate behavior. Some are “permissive” and do not impose any sanctions on children, usually because this way they avoid having to face a possible nervous breakdown from their children if their wishes are thwarted.
In the long run, this becomes counterproductive, since children then get used to getting everything they ask for when what matters is that they internalize that they will not always be able to have what they want. On the other hand, they must understand that they will not be able to obtain what they ask for only by having adequate behavior, such as negotiating with the adult.
Therefore, when a child behaves inappropriately, it must have a consequence and not go unpunished. We can then resort to either extinction or punishment. We must avoid that this entails physical or mental damage to the child ; it is therefore preferable not to opt for physical sanctions, shouting, threats or humiliation.
In fact, if the non-observance of the norm or of the adequate behavior is slight, extinction may suffice. But if what the child does is more serious or if he does not follow the rules in a systematic way, it is important to impose a punishment that is appropriate for the development and age of the child. Thus, it will help him to understand that it is better for him to behave differently.
In addition, the sanction must be related to the norm that has been broken, so that the child can think and reflect on what he has done wrong. In addition, the sanctions should not be too long, otherwise they will end up being counterproductive.
On the other hand, from the age of five or six, the punishments must be agreed with the children. Thus, we foment in the child communication and negotiation skills, as well as an ability to defend his own rights as well as to understand the norms of the house. These punishments must therefore be fair and appropriate for all parties involved.
Finally, as far as possible, the punishment should be restorative. In other words, it must be oriented towards compensation or restoration for the damage caused. It is therefore preferable that the punishment be linked to the behavior that one does not want to repeat again. In this way, the feeling of guilt will decrease and family bonds will be strengthened.
Today, we know what the nature of a punishment should be; what this article is all about is how to put it into practice. First of all, it is important that the child knows beforehand what his punishment is, as well as what it consists of. On the other hand, once imposed, the punishment must be respected until the end.
This is important, since if parents are not firm in their punishments, they will lose their usefulness. It is therefore important that the attitude of adults be as intelligent and as less impulsive as possible.
To achieve this, it is necessary to try to control and contain our anger and to think that the punishment should not hurt children, but make them think. Thus, we will communicate to them the negative consequence of their wrongdoing with a quiet voice. The child will then perceive affection rather than rejection which filters a succession of constant punishments. Punishing adequately is a challenge, but with these tips we will be better able to get there …
Images by Andrik Langfield, Gerome Vivant and Rene Bernal