< BACK  | AT HOME • November 3, 2014
The long term effect of ‘Punishing’ our kids
Punishment. What a word. Brings up all sorts of stuff for me. Parents, school, detention, me against the world, my “but I didn’t….” voice trailing off into the sunset cause no one’s listening anyway…
It was quite poetic as to how the Universe brought up this ugly word back into my consciousness. I don’t believe in ‘punishing’ my child. I believe in talking things out at a level he understands it and letting him make a final decision (age appropriate by the way) regardless of whether I think something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. For the most part anyway. Im not perfect.
Yet, when the word ‘wrong’ slip out of my mouth regarding his behavior, off he marches into his room, all sullen, and says “I’m not talking to you Mum”. A few times in, I was pretty curious as to where he picked up this behavior from.
And here comes a flashback.
Circa 1980’s when I was being ‘punished’ for bringing shame to the family as a child (which was as simple as talking to a boy while in a co-ed school), I was given the silent treatment, without any explanation as to what I had done wrong, and was forced to retract into my room with no one to talk to. I was expected to understand what was going on in their heads whilst not hearing a peep or getting a glance out of them sideways for weeks on end.
Its interesting to see how this punishment ethos manifested in my adult life – when someone has done something I consider ‘wrong’, the silent treatment rears its ugly head. If you’re persistent enough to get me to look at you (good luck with that), you’ll get my Medusa glare that will turn you into stone before I tell you what you did to upset me. All this while I’ve retracted with a sullen face to my safe haven – my bedroom.
And here my son was, mimicking my behavior.
Believe you me, I laughed out loud when I came to this little nugget of self- realization. L – O – to the freakin L.
I wish it was as easy as just laughing though. I’ve worked very hard at slaying my silent treatment demon.
So all I ask of you is this – look deeper into how you ‘punish’ your kids – its defining them as human beings that you send out into the world. Talk it out, what you perceive as ‘wrong’ is not within their realm of understanding unless you tell them so. A little habit that would have a great impact on the world if you asked me.
Time to step out of our parent’s shoes and into our own more aware ones.
How do you, knowingly or unknowingly, ‘punish’ those in your life? Look at how you respond to someone doing something ‘wrong’.
Do you effectively communicate when you feel ‘wronged’? Are your boundaries clear?
Are you able to effectively communicate to your child that ‘wrong’ behavior doesn’t mean you love him any less?
If you were to move away from the terms ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, what words would you use instead?
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