What's Wrong With Punitive Consequences?

Last week, I wrote about why I thought Supernanny was dead wrong in her advice to a family on Good Morning America.

I have to admit, writing a post like that both terrifies me and thrills me. I don't like pissing people off, but I do love a good a paradigm change.

And that's what I am really all about. Changing perspectives - not telling people how to parent.

Conscious Parenting Myths

I realized (again) when I say, "punishment doesn't work" many people misconstrue that to mean I am saying:

  1. I don't believe in limits, boundaries or consequences. OR 
  2. They are damaging their children with the use of these punitive measures.

Neither of these could be further from the truth. I only want us to remember our hearts when we parent.

When we use our opinions, mood or judgments to enforce limits, we send the message our limits are unsafe, changing or conditional, and this makes it hard for kids to figure out what is acceptable.

Punitive discipline denies children the opportunity to reflect on their behavior. It teaches them to look outside of themselves for direction and to seek approval from others, instead of acting authentically from a morality which is developing with empathy - through relationship.

“Much of today’s popular advice to parents ignores emotion. Instead, it relies on child-rearing theories that address children’s misbehavior, but disregards the feelings that underlie that misbehavior. The ultimate goal of raising children should not be simply to have an obedient and compliant child. Most parents hope for much more for their children.” - Dr. John Gottman, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

Punitive control does not take developmental stages into consideration.  

Supernanny says a lot of REALLY GOOD THINGS. I have never denied this.

However, in this video, you'll hear her debunk all of her well-meaning advice with one simple sentence -- watch this TEACHable Moments episode to find out what she says and what's really wrong with punitive consequences

The seeds of rebellion are planted in every punitive act. @TEACHthruLove (TWEET IT)

Poor behavior needs to be met with limits, boundaries, and compassion - that is essential. But, I think it is most important to remember that compassion is not how we think we are being, but how the other person is receiving our action.

How do your children feel?

I want us to leave behind the attitudes that say:
  • You better - or else.
  • I warned you, and now you're going to suffer.
  • You don't deserve my attention because you did not listen.

- because it doesn't serve your greater goals for influencing your kids and creating healthy intimate relationships.

We may feel obligated to those who try and control us, but I want my kid to feel more than obligation and duty.

I want our messages to be:

  • You made a mistake, but you can do better.
  • You are capable.
  • I am going to help.
  • I will not let you.
  • This behavior is unacceptable but you are not. 
  • I am here to keep you safe until you can do it yourself.

So many well-meaning consequences are delivered with a healthy dose of shame and judgment, which causes kids to emotionally shut down and disconnect from us, even if we can't see it.

You don't have to "show your children your authority" with power. It is much more influential with peace.

I'd love to hear from you. What are YOUR feelings on changing paradigms to support discipline delivered with emotional warmth? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Have a great week and thank you for reading, watching and sharing!

Talk soon,


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