The 5 Most Common Forms of Punishment


A few weeks ago, I was able to get away for the weekend to hunt down the hottest summer weather I could find in California and headed to Palm Springs. I suppose everyone else had the same idea…punishment

It seems that in many of the popular vacation spots, you can usually count on the infiltration of families and young children. That being said, these places are also hotspots for witnessing parents from all over the world, scolding their kids.

Call me biased, but I know that after learning about P.E.T., my awareness towards parenting the “other” way is extremely sensitive. It’s almost as if I have acquired a sense of selective hearing for punishment and scoldings which can be like nails on a chalkboard!

After pondering on this some more, I’ve come up with a list of what I believe to be the 5 most common forms of punishment – and of course, the case against it!

  1. Yelling – scolding, name calling, demanding
  2. Withdrawing or Withholding – taking away privileges which may or may not have anything to do with their unacceptable behaviour
  3. Using “Logical Consequences” – i.e. if the child is late for dinner, they are made to go without eating
  4. Grounding – not allowing them to do anything but what is (according to the parents) necessary
  5. Isolation – giving them “time outs”, alone and away from everyone else

In P.E.T., we learn about the different types of authority and that Authority P (power) is used in relationships where there is an imbalance of power. No question about it, power and punishment does work at times. However, as the old saying goes: When the cat’s away the mice will play. Punishment usually works only as long as the parent is present. As kids grow older and discover their own ways to get their needs met, their reliance on their parents lessens. As a result of this, kids begin to learn that their parent’s threats will not affect them. Inevitably, parents run out of things to threaten or punish their children with.

Aside from the uselessness that punishment incurs, the long term effects on the child’s behavior can be experienced as a very rude awakening for their parents. It is a commonly accepted idea that teenagers are inherently rebellious. I can’t help but wonder if people really believe that this rebellion comes from no other reason aside from their age.

According to P.E.T., children don’t rebel against their parents; they rebel against their parents’ power. The teen years are those in which the children gain more independence and ability to survive without needing mom and dad.

“In direct contrast to the conventional, “common sense” belief that punishment will prevent aggressive behavior by children, the evidence that indicates that harsh, punitive, power-based punishment actually causes aggression in children. Clearly, punishment doesn’t prevent aggressive behavior by children; it promotes it.” – Dr. Thomas Gordon

Article is written by Selena Cruz George – P.E.T. Program Manager – Gordon Training International and can be found at e-parenting-articles/the-5-most- common-forms-of-punishment/

2 comments… add one
  • I really think that you have mis-represented logical consequences by grouping them with forms of ‘punishment’. Logical consequences in a school context can be, ‘you were late without a good reason so you are going to spend time from your break to make up for it,’ or ‘you drew on a desk/made a mess so you need to clean it up’, ‘You hurt another persons feelings so we need to think of a way to solve the problem’. I think that logical consequences (when they are logical and involve discussion with the child) are a valid form of guidance however “logical consequences” such as the ones you cite don’t help anyone in the short or long term.

    • Thanks Emily,
      What you say is true. I think the article (written by Selena Cruz George – P.E.T. Program Manager – Gordon Training International) is more indicating that the logical consequences (in quotes) she was referring to was a form of justification for the use of power and not as a teaching or guidance tool. PET encourages an awareness about how we are feeling and acknowledging that. When we don’t do this, we are more likely to use forms of punishment and paint it as something else, in this case, saying it was a “logical consequence”. Exerting power over another person because you are annoyed or frustrated doesn’t have the same intention behind it. Expressing your honest feelings and asking the other person for a way to resolve the situation is more likely to have a lasting change and result for both parties. Perhaps this could have been made clearer in the article. Agreed?

      Vanessa Lewis
      (PET Instructor)


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