Punishment Works -- If You Can Do It!

It was one of my biggest failures, as a parent.


I would get mad and send my son as a toddler to his room, then go in my room and cry.  I was pretty lucky, he was a quiet, contained child who didn't get into too much (except his one rare climbing incident, at 18 months, when he split a glass table with his forehead).

But you have to discipline kids, there's no question about it.  A friend recommended a book, with the title "1 2 3 Magic"and the idea was to tell your kid you would count to three and then something would happen -- a "Go to your room," or a withdrawal of a promised treat or taking the computer away -- if he didn't stop it.

I failed at all three.

When he was small and wouldn't go to his room, I could pick him up and put him there.  But after not too long, the door would open and out he'd come and I would have to think of something else.  Or give up.

Some parents were successful at getting their kids to sit in a certain spot when they misbehaved, and stay there.  Not me.

When he got too big to pick up and carry, and I would have to kind of shove him down the hall, and close the door, and he would, again, try to come out, we put -- I'm ashamed to say -- a lock on the outside of his door (my husband's parents did that because he was a sleepwalker).  Now that he's a teen, the lock's on the other side,

I got a little better at the crying but then he began banging stuff against the wall and I'd have to go in and remonstrate, only to (nine times out of 10), let him out.

He really was a good kid so I didn't see it as all that bad that I was a failure at punishment.  And I suspect some of my inability to stay strong when punishing came from my own childhood, where any infraction was punished physically and with a great deal of yelling,

In those days, spanking was okay, even when done with a wooden spoon (my mom) or a strap (my dad).

I vowed I would never hit my child and I think I only did once, a tap on the bottom.  Then went into my bedroom and collapsed.

A new study says punishing is effective if you do it right, Timeouts, which the study focused on, were the right way, apparently -- if you could do it.  I'm thinking of getting a dog.  Maybe I'll have better luck with him.


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