Punishment in Brief
As a general rule, punishment is not a very effective way of changing behavior, at least in the usual way it is administered. By punishment, I refer to negative consequences after certain behavior (e.g., gentle reprimand, lecture, shouting, or hitting) or removing some positive consequence (e.g., placing the child in time out or away from desirable events, taking away a privilege).
As an aside, gentle, rational, and measured reasoning with a child (e.g., “We do not do that [behavior] in this house,” “What if your sister ruined your toys?” or “You, just violated a Kantian imperative”) are wonderful to teach reasoning and to model parent reasonableness under fire but not very effective as behavior-change techniques.
How to Eliminate Behaviors without Punishment
There is no evidence that punishment is really needed to achieve parent goals or to discipline children. That is a stark statement and saying that it has a strong research base is no consolation.
Here is what we know. There are ways of eliminating behavior that involve directly developing and reinforcing behaviors that are opposite to or incompatible with the behavior one wants to eliminate. The non-technical term is reinforcing positive opposites. This is based on many technical procedures (several differential reinforcement schedules) that have been well studied in human and nonhuman animal research (see references). Essentially, the key point is developing the behavior one wishes rather than focusing on what to eliminate.
Click here to view the original post on Psychology Benefits Society.
Image courtesy of Getty Images