To Punish or Not to Punish

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It is a familiar scenario, in 95 percent of the Indian households’, parents resort to mild to severe punishments to discipline a child. Hitting, scolding, spanking or beating is a regular occurrence in all Indian families. The situation in schools appears no different.


It teaches them to realize if they commit a mistake it has consequences. They will come to know their mischief affects the family members around them.

The children would understand they are responsible for their wrong actions. And once wrongdoing committed knowingly or unknowingly, they should prepare to accept the sanctions.

It gives a clear picture to the children of the boundaries of right and wrong and acceptable and not acceptable behavior. It also spells out a clear message to them that parent’s words to be taken seriously and they mean business.


Parents should remember punishments must never humiliate a child. The punishments which humiliate a child have a short-term effect only. Using more power in the name of punishments upon children is self-defeating. Severe punishments never act as a behavior tool or a change agent.

Humiliating punishments carry many unwanted lifelong side effects. They demoralize a child, damage their self-esteem. The child may resent their parents, develop hatred towards them and the relationship may get strained.


Parents have to approach the wrong behavior of a child with a mindset that punishments need not be hurting physically or damaging emotionally. They are never the best weapon in the hands of parents to stop a child behaving badly again and again. It may bring out a positive effect on the child, but it is only temporary. It means that a parent is in a cycle of reacting and punishing the child all the time. It doesn’t take the parent anywhere, and the irritating habits in the child remain unchanged. But there is a likelihood that the child understands the parents’ reactions and learns quickly to avoid getting caught? They are always unhelpful and completely fail to modify the behavior in the child.


All children need boundaries and routines. And children need parental guidance in all aspects while they are way up growing.

It is always better to draw few rules of do’s and do not’s in the family affairs and stick to them than to have too many rules that could create confusion.

Always keep in mind the age of the child the parents’ expectations should always be age appropriate. Anything demanded beyond their age is like asking too much too early.

Before punishing a child keep in mind what is good for the child and the family.

Be fair, be firm, be positive and give a lot of time for your child to make amends.

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