When it comes to parenting, we often wish there was a magical manual that gives us all the ins and outs of being a good parent. Punishment can feel like a grey area in the parenting world due to the differences in parenting styles we see. Having a basic understanding of age appropriate punishments can benefit parents and eliminate some of this grey area.
When punishing a child, it is always important to explain the reasoning behind the punishment. Children need to understand why they are punished so that they can begin the process of understanding right from wrong.
- Ages 0-2: simply saying “no” and distracting a child from the negative behavior is a sufficient way of punishing. Having a short time-out session can also be helpful.
- Ages 3-5: At this stage children are able to understand consequences for their actions. It can be helpful to explain to your child why it is not okay to do something. Rewarding for good behavior can also be done at this age
- Ages 6-8: Timeouts and other consequences can still be used with children between these ages. Being consistent in rewards and consequences is a key part in reinforcing behavior.
- Ages 9-12: In this age group the natural consequences of their behavior and choices are able to act as punishments or rewards. However, some children may not learn from natural consequences, in this instance creating your own consequences may be useful.
- Ages 13+: Once again, consistency is key even as children get older. This age group is beginning to gain more autonomy, allowing for the creation of boundaries and privileges that can be given and taken away.
- Spanking: Spanking is a controversial subject that can leave parents wondering if it is acceptable or not. It is not recommended for several reasons, one being that it teaches children that it is okay to hit in certain situations rather than using verbal communication. It can also create fear in children, especially if it becomes a regular form of punishment.
It is important to keep in mind that every child is different, and while some forms of punishment may work for some it may not work for others. Remember to be patient and communicate with your child. If you are still in need of assistance our therapists are skilled at providing play therapy for younger children, and CBT therapy for families and older children to help with problem behaviors or discipline issues.
https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/discipline.html (I’ll add a citation later)