They’re refusing to obey you and breaking your rules and don’t fear or respect you, and you’re confused about how to behave. Do you have to punish them? Will the punishment hurt them? And how can you do it without hitting them or feeling guilty?
Know that some children tend to disobey their parents because they want to cross the boundaries and set out to discover the world, not because they are “uncivilized.”
Punishment is necessary, but it’s necessary to distinguish between the positive, the goal of which is education, and the negative, which humiliates the child, diminishes their ability, and affects their self-respect.
Physical punishment doesn’t have an effect on your child’s body, but it leaves indelible marks on their psyche and their personality. The child will feel as though they’re not loved, which will push them to develop new negative behaviors and receive more physical punishment; you’ll enter into a vicious cycle with them.
Beating is evidence of your weakness and inability to control your temper, and it sets a bad example for the child, who will become violent in turn.
Before punishing your child, outline the rules (when it’s time for bed, which things they aren’t supposed to touch, to ask permission before going outside to play).
Make sure, afterwards, that they know what to expect if they break the rules. Don’t back down from punishing them when they do something wrong, or they will feel they’ve escaped punishment and will break your rules again.
For positive punishment, there are specific characteristics that must be respected. For example, you should carry out their punishment immediately, choosing to enact justice that very day. You should also remind your child about the rule they’ve broken—the reason they’re being punished. For example, say, “You rode your bike to the main street, and that’s forbidden, so tomorrow you’re barred from riding the bike all day.”
Always make sure that the punishment fits the size of the crime (small crime, small punishment) and is linked to the error committed. For example, if your child pushed their brother out of the swing, don’t stop them from eating sweets; stop them from playing on the swing all afternoon.
It is also helpful for the punishment to be corrective. For example, ask your child to fix what they did wrong and put away the books they threw on the floor.