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  • Writer's pictureDonavan Robinson

Here's why punishment is not the best approach

How often have you found yourself in this situation?

Your child does something wrong or doesn't do what you asked, so you take something away. And the arguing begins...



Let's say your child goes over and knocks down a block tower their sibling had been working on.

Your first instinct may be to "punish" your child- perhaps taking away after-dinner screen time or telling them they can't have ice cream later.

Here's why this is not the best approach:


It often escalates your child's negative behaviour and may lead to arguing or a meltdown.


It doesn't teach or help them build the skills that made them knock over the tower (impulse control, emotional regulation, taking the perspective of other people, future thinking skills)


Often these punishments are unrelated to the "crime" and are too far into the future for your child to make the connection between their behaviour and the consequence.


It doesn't hold them accountable for their actions, which is a life skill they will need to succeed now and as adults.

How to get out of this pickle?

  • Teach your child to be accountable for their actions.

  • They can rebuild the tower.

  • They can help their sibling re-build the tower.

  • They can give their tower that they made to their sibling.

  • Or ask your child, "What could you do to fix this situation?" and see what ideas they come up with.

  • If they choose not to be accountable, then perhaps they have to do one of the sibling's chores (ex: setting the table) so that the sibling can rebuild their tower.

So the next time you find yourself in a pickle with your child-

Ask yourself, "How can I make my child be accountable for their actions in this situation?"

Information provided by Lisa at ADHD on Schedule

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