In our home we work very hard to never punish our child. WHAT?? Yes, you read that correctly. No punishment ever is my goal, however I'm human and fail very much. But I don't agree with popular opinion that punishment is desirable or necessary in order to raise a "good" child.
I'm not going to go into huge detail because I found a post that covers this topic quite brilliantly. It's a really great read. Even for those who may disagree with my stance, her article brings up a lot of food for thought. The blogger is a christian and goes into the religious aspects of this parenting choice. But she also provides enough explanation that is not religious in nature, so I believe it's a great post for all.
Behavior Modification: Punishment
I think the hardest thing for me is being consistent with this. It is very difficult to break out of the punishment mindset when that's how a person was raised. This is the place I find myself in. I know what I want to do and what I believe and yet fall back on earlier programming when I'm tired and frustrated. It's much easier for me to stick with my big rule of no spanking since I've had this personal rule grounded into my head for years upon years. What's harder for me is the other forms of punishment. Loss of privilege, time out, and shaming are ones for me that can creep in easily if allow them to. I can look back and see that I've made progress, but there's still a lot of room for improvement!
Another thing that I'm finding hard to deal with is other people. It's amazing how many people step up and try to punish my child for me when I'm out somewhere with him. I've seen this at church as well as other places. Nobody is trying to spank my child or anything like that, but I am shocked by how many people feel the need to start shaming my child when he is behaving "inappropriately." Subtle comments meant to punish are very common in our society. "Big boys don't act like that," and "Don't say that to your mommy. I don't like that and that makes your mommy sad," (the latter one while Boo was making a valid attempt to express some anger he was feeling). And I don't say this to come across as high and mighty because I've resorted to similar guilt-inducing statements in the moment. But as a mom it's hard to know how to deal with a well-meaning person when they see it fitting to shame my child. I admit that it's easier for me to jump immediately to a defensive and snippy response than to kindly and calmly inform them that shaming is not something we use with our child.
Since I seem to have gone off a bit on the whole aspect of shaming as a form of punishment, here's an article about the effects of shame on children.
"Good" Children - At What Price? The Secret Cost of Shame
Where I need to continue to grow in my journey is to not resort to punishment and to learn how to assert myself with others so that they are not pushing punitive methods onto my child. Does parenting ever get any easier? Wouldn't it be nice if one day we could actually "arrive" at being the ideal parent?