Parenting can be a challenge. As a responsible adult, there may be a lot of pressure and confusion when it comes to nurturing your kid. The truth is, caretakers have a responsibility towards children to help shape them into rule-abiding adults. One way to do this is by assisting them in understanding that every action, whether good or bad, can have a consequence. It is true, and it applies to all of us. And to teach them this, you may have to resort to various tactics, one of which is negative punishment.
The whole idea of negative punishment may sound intimidating, but with the proper knowledge of what it is, what you can do, and what you should avoid, it can be a helpful tool in your child’s upbringing. Here’s all that you need to know about negative punishment, along with a few examples of what you need to avoid:
What Is Negative Punishment?
A concept derived from B.F Skinner’s theory about operant conditioning, negative punishment is a part of behavioral psychology in which a certain kind of punishment is administered to eliminate or correct wrong behavior. Simply put, in the case of parenting, it involves taking something away from your child as a punishment after they have done something wrong. This way, they won’t repeat it, as they know there will be unpleasant consequences,.
This concept is also known as “punishment by removal” because it involves “removing” something, as opposed to adding something to enforce punishment.
A lot of people are skeptical about this concept for two reasons. One, it is a behavioral theory tested on pigeons and rats as subjects; and two, because the term “punishment” in itself has a negative connotation attached to it. However, the concept has been practiced for ages by parents, and in some cases, it is also necessary to enforce this tactic. Although it is termed as negative punishment, the idea is simple — every action has its consequences. This is something that your child has to learn at some point in their lives.
How Is Negative Punishment Different From Positive Punishment?
Negative punishment includes taking away something as a consequence of wrongdoings. On the other hand, positive punishment comprises the addition of something as a punishment that will most likely result in an unpleasant experience. An example of positive punishment is when a teacher makes a student write an imposition. Here, if the child has not completed their mathematics homework, the teacher may ask them to write something like “I will make sure I do my homework”, about fifty times. It is the teacher’s way of showing the child that their actions can have unpleasant consequences if they go the wrong way. In this case, the punishment (imposition) was added, and nothing was taken away as such.
Does Negative Punishment Work?
Children need to be guided by their caretakers so that they understand the importance of growing up to be responsible adults who are accountable for their actions. Punishment may seem too harsh a word, but having said that, it is crucial to reprimand your child when they falter, so they know that they should not be repeating the same mistakes.
Negative punishment will work if it is applied immediately after the child has done something you disapprove of. It will also work more effectively if you impose the same punishment consistently every time your child repeats that mistake.
Examples Of Negative Punishment You Need To Avoid
Negative punishment can be an option if you choose to do it the right way. Taking a privilege or desirable object from your child is okay, as long as you do it empathetically. Here’s how you can go wrong with negative punishment:
- When your child is unreasonably on the phone and skips homework as a result, you take away the phone. This form of negative punishment could work; however, it won’t be effective if your child has access to another form of entertainment such as a laptop.
- Taking away something that can badly affect your child should be avoided. For example, when your child does something wrong, and you deprive them of a meal. It is unacceptable and inhumane and needs to be avoided at all costs.
- Not being on the same page as your partner (or your child’s other caretaker) should be avoided. Because if you take something away from them as punishment, chances are, they may go to the other caretaker for support or respite.
- Avoid taking away things your child is dependent on to manage their emotions or stress, such as their stress toys, comfort blanket, or a favorite pair of socks.
- Don’t deprive your child of rare and memorable events such as a best friend’s birthday party or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in a school musical. These are all special occasions that no one would want to miss (unless they decide to do so for themselves).
Before you decide to impose a negative punishment on your child, take some time to understand the situation. Sometimes, your own anger can get in the way of parenting, and the way you handle a particular situation can be unfair. Make an effort to understand why your child made a mistake, and use negative punishment as a tool only to help them, not hurt them. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below!