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10 Parenting Tips on How to Use Punishment And Reinforcement

using punishments and reinforcements
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I’m sure that you are familiar with the results of rewards for good behaviour and punishment for bad behaviour. Children quickly learn that some negative things can bring satisfaction. For example, they will receive A if they learn a lesson from a history that is boring to them. This method of learning is called operant conditioning.

However, punishment and reinforcement aren’t good for children always. This depends primarily on how, when and why parents use them. Punishment and reinforcement affect a child’s behaviour, but also have long-term consequences on him/her. Therefore, it’s important that parents know how to use those. I will introduce 10 parenting tips on how to use punishment and reinforcement that every parent should know.

1. Parents must consider a child’ behaviour and their own reaction to it!

First of these 10 parenting tips is that parents should think about what is wrong with a child’s behaviour, why the child behaves like that. Many children have bad behaviour just because they know they will get attention if they behave badly. If you pay all your attention to the child every time when he/she has bad behaviour, maybe the child just wants to spend more time with you. On such a child, you will use different punishments in a different way than, for example, on a child who lies to you to protect a younger sister. In fact, first, it’s important to consider all the ways of our actions and their consequences. For example, if your child spends too much time playing games, then you shouldn’t punish the child by a ban on going to a picnic.

2. Children need to understand the parent’s behaviour as care for them.

Children should experience parents’ punishment and reinforcement as a concern and a desire to be good. Paying attention to children’ emotions, parents show that actually care about them. That establishes a quality relationship between parents and children which is necessary for using punishment and reinforcement with positive consequences. Accepting requests, children will be very proud and happy when parents praise them for some good action. At the same time, that will encourage them to have good behaviour and further. Over time, external control will establish internally so children will be satisfied with their actions and without any compliments.

3. Punishment and reinforcement must be in accordance with the child’s age, abilities and characteristics.

Let children express feelings and emotions. It’s disadvantageous if children are defended to manifest their own opinion and if parents don’t show compassion and understanding for them. Parents cannot prevent children from being angry, disappointed, vindictive, or furious. Above all, they cannot prevent these feelings from themselves. Even if parents punish a child for some behaviour, without considering his/her emotion, the child will experience that emotion as forbidden. Because of children difficult control emotions, as well as us, fear, confidence, confusion can occur in the child the next time when the same feeling recurs again. 

4. Punishment and reinforcement must be justice.

Even very small children have a sense of justice. Children perceive too strict punishment as an injustice. Such punishment confuses them and makes them indignant. Then they will not understand their mistakes but will understand the punishment as a mistake of the parents. Usually, because of the too strict punishments, they become defiant. As a result of that, they will behave badly whenever they can and when parents don’t see them. With too much punishment, parents don’t teach children anything.

parenting tips how to use a punishment and reinforcement on children

The parents are wrong when they punish a child because they are angry, have a bad mood or they are under parental stress. Also, it’s wrong to punish a child if he/she did something unintentionally, break the bowl from the table while he/she was running for example. Usually, parents are justified by the fact that punishment is a preventive measure in those cases. They just want to learn their child to not repeat the same mistake. That’s exactly the problem. A child, if breaks something accidentally, will not get reproach only, but will also be afraid before his/her parents see the broken things. In addition, if a parent broke the same thing, nobody wouldn’t punish him. Therefore, in such cases, a child considers punishment as an injustice. That isn’t useful for the establishment of a quality relationship between a parent and a child.

5. Punishment and reinforcement shouldn’t hold off.

If children deserve punishment for their behaviour, then they should be applied immediately. If the punishment is postponed and applied later, a child will forget that he/she had a mistake. Then, the punishment loses effect. Therefore, the punishments which been hold off, as well as excessive punishment, is an injustice for children. That confused them. This is especially true for children of the younger age whose quickly forget feelings that they have made a mistake. For example, if your child misses something in the evening, forbid him/her to watch television immediately, not tomorrow.

6. Don’t overdo with punishment and reinforcement!

The constant rewarding of someone is less effective than just occasional rewards. This also applies to punishment. A constant indication of it and punishment will not stop it. On the contrary, that causes stubbornness and disrupts self-confidence in children.

7. You are not trying to make too many changes at once. Gradually.

In order to correct the child’s behaviour, you need time. We will positively influence the child’s behaviour only by direct and immediate support, but we shouldn’t despair if the child repeats the same behaviour. Sometimes it’s necessary to repeatedly show a child that his/her particular behaviour isn’t adequate. How much time it takes depend on a child’s characteristics, maturity, and a type of attachment style. So, be patient! Solve the problem by problem, and you will surely get the desired results.

8. Use a punishment and reinforcement so that the child understands them.

Always explain to your child the consequences of problematic behaviour. We don’t change a child’s behaviour, the child changes it. That’s why children must know their own mistakes if we want that they correct these. The purpose of that is to teach a child to make the right decisions without the compulsion to listen to you. 

9. Consistency is important!

If you forbid a child something someday, and you allow him/her the same next day, the child will be confused. As well, a child will be confused if mum says no, and dad says yes. Also, what is valid for you should apply to the child. If a child accidentally breaks the glass, don’t punish the child as you wouldn’t be in the same situation.

consistency is good way in punishments and reinforcements
Why is consistency important? In that way, we clearly show a child what he/she must and what not. We create clear rules and set limits for both, the child and us. Stick to this parenting tip in order to avoid confusion in the child.

10. Use more positive than negative reinforcement and punishment 

We don’t have to beat children and yell at them if we want to let them know that something they not done properly. As far as physical punishment is concerned, it’s not controversial it’s effective, under the condition it’s current and consistent. However, even if there is a possibility that a child will correct behaviour in order not to get beats, we are sending a message to the child that physical violence is quite right to solve the problem. If you want to teach your child not to act in a certain way, punishment and negative reinforcement aren’t the only ways. Instead of punishing, you can just not pay attention, apropos don’t reinforce such behaviour. This tip is especially appropriate for younger children who often try to attract parents’ attention by bad behaviour. If you don’t corroborate a certain behaviour, it will stop by time.


Do you use punishments and reinforcements in rising? Do you like these 10 parenting tips? Have you found out some tip which means as helpful to you? Share your opinion, experiences and more parenting tips with us. Every experience more is a good way for our improving.


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