Differences between punishment and limit (in child rearing)

One fundamental thing to facilitate coexistence is to try to keep our behavior around parameters that we call social norms. If sometimes adults perceive these parameters as arbitrary and illogical; it is even more common for boys and girls to have difficulty assimilating them and acting on them.

During the process (that of recognizing and following the rules) adults are key characters, as it is largely through us that they learn what they are supposed to do and what they are not. are not. Specifically, our influence has to do with how we teach what limits are and what happens if they are not respected.

In this article, we will look at some of the differences between limits and punishments., As well as one of the proposals of modern pedagogy to maintain a respectful educational style which at the same time transmits to the child some guidelines necessary for coexistence.

  • “The 6 stages of childhood (physical and psychological development)”

Authority or negotiation?

Since educational models began to be ‘child-centered’, early childhood education has shifted from an authority model (where adults are the ones giving the orders and children just follow them) ; to a model rather based on negotiation, in which the child’s own needs must be taken into account and not only those of the adult.

In this sense, when we use concepts such as rules, discipline, limits and authority in early childhood education, we are usually not talking about an authoritarian model that suggests domination, but rather of an authoritarian model. ‘a model that seeks coexistence, respect, tolerance and self-responsibility. own actions.

however, the negotiation-based model created difficultiesNot only for boys and girls, but for caregivers and educators, as it sometimes turns into a totally permissive and overprotective parenting style.

What does “set limits” mean?

Setting limits is necessary because this is how we teach boys and girls that they can’t do absolutely anything they want without considering how it affects others.

It even helps develop other skills, such as recognizing one’s own limitations and how others should or should not approach them.; In addition, it can help children recognize and set clear boundaries regarding long-term personal demand.

In practical terms, setting a limit is telling the child when, how and where the behavior is not allowed; and when, how and where it is allowed.

For example, when young children are figuring out risky behaviors, it is common for them to approach dangerous spaces and do things like stick their fingers in sockets, get their hands on the stove or the stove, running towards the cars, etc.

In addition to taking the necessary standard measurements, such as plugging coverage, it is also useful to mark them with short, firm sentences and single words, which “not here”. It is also important to set clear boundaries when it comes to approaching others, especially so that they can distinguish between their personal space and the space available to others.

finally setting boundaries is not the same as delimiting or even imposing rules, which do not necessarily facilitate coexistence but that they correspond to the values ​​of each context. For example, getting good grades or not sleeping after 10 p.m. is a rule that varies depending on the dynamics that exist in different spaces.

Differences between limit and punishment

After setting a limit, the following is the child’s response. In general, boys and girls do not respect the limit of the first indication, although it may also happen that they do not do so in the second or third, before which follows an adult response. .

Then we will know the differences between limits and punishments.

1. The limit is only the indication, the punishment is the answer

The limit is only the indication, the punishment is the response to the behavior of the child. The limit is then the specification of what is not allowed and the punishment is the adult’s response, once the child has not complied with that specification. Punishment is often loaded with emotions such as anger, so it is more of an adult response to their relief, which has little effect, or may even have negative effects, on education and discipline. of the child.

2. The limit anticipates a consequence, not a punishment

The limit anticipates the consequence, the punishment is the unintended consequence. Being a specification, the limit leads the child to recognize certain rules, which he may or may not obey. Punishment is the adult’s response that is not anticipated (it is given arbitrarily by the adult).

3. Punishment is inconsistent with conduct or limit

The main characteristic of punishment is that it has no relation or logic to the behavior of the child or to the limit that has been set.. For example, when he is denied time to watch TV because of inappropriate behavior he has had at school.

How to establish logical consequences instead of punishments?

The concept of “consequence” applied to education has much of its antecedent in the philosophy of Maria Montessori, Italian doctor and educator who laid the foundations for the development of a whole psychoeducational method which is currently very popular.

Based on their studies, Montessori realized that boys and girls are able to discipline and regulate themselves; but it is a process that is largely achieved through coaching and guidance generated by adults.

like that, concludes that we need to make boys and girls understand that behaviors have natural and logical consequences. For example, if they walk without paying attention to nearby objects, they may be hit (a natural consequence).

Or for example, that if one child hits another, that other person will not only cry or get angry, but it is important that the child apologize (logical consequence). Adult intervention is necessary for this type of consequence.

Then, a consequence, in addition to being what happens in response to any behavior, is also a model that allows us to recognize or anticipate what can happen by crossing or ignoring a limit.

By making it possible to anticipate the consequences, we favor the child’s self-regulation; and that the adult no longer depends on anger to facilitate it, because the child links his behavior to the consequence, which will allow him to avoid it later.

It is also important that the child learns not only how not to behave, but how; that is, giving him another tool to satisfy his need (for example, asking for things or expressing his anger, rather than hitting).

Characteristics of a logical consequence:

Consequences and limits are not recipes that can be applied equally to all children, they vary according to the needs and characteristics of the context and the guardians or educators, as well as the child’s own development.

In line with the above, we are going to list some important things about how this is a logical consequence, which can be useful depending on the case:

    1. immediate: This happens at the time of the behavior, not two weeks or months later, when the child no longer remembers what he or she did or has already become accustomed to having the behavior allowed; because in addition, if a lot of time passes, it is more difficult for him to understand what the alternative is.
    1. safe: Stick to what we plan (for example, don’t plan that there won’t be free time if we know that in in the end we will give you some free time). We must be confident and convinced that it is in our power to facilitate a logical consequence.
    1. coherent: The logical consequences are related to the behavior of the child (for example in a classroom: “if you play during your studies, then you will have to work when we started to play”, instead of “if you play at work, you withdraw from the classroom “). With regard to the behaviors that occur at school, it is important that they have a consequence here; do not apply them at home if they have nothing to do.

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