What's Wrong With Punitive Consequences?

In the past, I've shared my opinion about Supernanny. Writing posts like that one both terrifies me and thrills me. 

I don't like pissing people off, but I do love a good paradigm shift because my real passion is changing perspectives - not telling people how to parent.

Conscious Parenting Myths

I realize when I say, "punishment doesn't work," many people misconstrue that to mean:

  1. I don't believe in limits, boundaries or consequences.
  2. I think parents are damaging their children by using punishment.

Neither of these could be further from the truth. I only want us to remember to lead with love, and not fear.

When we use our opinions, mood, or judgments to enforce limits, we send the message that the situation is unsafe, changing, or conditional. 

This makes it hard for kids to figure out what is acceptable.

Punitive discipline is convenient, but it 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 from within - with empathy and through relationship.

“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.  

Poor behavior needs to be met with limits and boundaries -  that is essential. However, I think it is more important to remember that compassion is also crucial because how our children experience our discipline matters more than our intentions or how we think we are being.

How do your children feel?

I want to leave behind messages that tell our children:
  • You better do what I say, or else!
  • I warned you, and now you're going to suffer.
  • You don't deserve my attention because you did not listen.

Children may feel obligated to comply with our attempts to control their behavior
, but these messages undermine our influence and relationship.

I want our messages to be:

  • You made a mistake, but you can do better.
  • You are capable.
  • I am going to help.
  • This behavior is unacceptable, but you are always valued. 
  • 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 shut down and disconnect from us

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

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.  (TWEET IT)

I'd love to hear from you. What are your feelings about leaving punitive discipline behind? Does it seem crazy? Irresponsible?  Impossible?
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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About Lori

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