The Consequences of Punishment

Punishment refers to an undesirable consequence aimed to reduce an undesired behavior. Punishment, once considered an effective and even necessary means of socializing children, has been identified to be a marker of a large spectrum of unfavorable developmental consequences. The drawbacks of punishment that we see reiterated by modern parenting experts and counselors have been explained by various psychologists. Psychologists have long recommended the use of reinforcement to control behavior instead of punishment.

Punishment doesn’t teach how to deal with underlying problems

Just as the treatment of a brain tumor with a pain relief medicine does not address the underlying problem, the masking of the symptoms of an underlying condition doesn’t solve the problem and in worst case it intensifies it. Here’s an example. A well-behaved student misbehaves in a class because he’s anxious, depressed or hyperactive and the teacher punishes them for their conduct. This punishment might have a deterring effect on the conduct. But it will not teach the student to deal with that issue. This deterrence may result in mental health or emotional problems in the future.

Punishment suppresses conduct, but if the prospect of penalty is removed, the conduct returns at the same rate

This occurs in humans constantly. People speed up on the highway, but when they see a police car, they slow down. When the teacher goes by, high school kids hide their cell phones. Children swiftly restore the cookie when they hear your steps on the stairs. This is the condition in which one’s moral decisions are motivated by a fear of punishment. We want humans to learn that they should avoid texting and driving because it will keep them and others safe not because they will get a ticket. Punishment only offers a certain behavior under the constant fear of getting punished.

Punishment has emotional by-products

One person from Faber’s book shared this:

Punishment evokes aggression towards others

Burrhus Frederic Skinner, an American psychologist and behaviorist, while experimenting on rats and pigeon found that their behavior became more aggressive. Spanking was associated with increased aggression and behavioral and mental health problems as well as reduced cognitive ability and self-esteem in a meta-analysis done by Elizabeth Gershoff and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor. Any violence or aggression used toward child will cause them to use the same tactics to solve their problems.

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