His six-year-old son insists he wants to play football in the living room of his house, with the latent possibility of destroying vases and windows; then you stand firm, and with your face as serious as your facial musculature allows, you threaten to punish yourself.
The next day, her little Avern plant refuses to do her homework, and you threaten to punish again. Later, he seems determined to upset his younger sister, and you, go novelty, threaten to punish him.
All of these cases, of course, are fictitious, but they represent the disciplinary methodology used by many parents. But, Are the punishments really effective? The answer depends on what you plan to accomplish with your child.
Does it work to punish?
If what you are looking for is to obey an order immediatelyMost likely, the strategy will be successful. But in this case, your child will accede to what you ask of him out of fear, out of fear of punishment; not because he respects him as a parent or because he believes doing it this way is the right thing to do.
Implicitly you will teach the child that problems are solved by threat or the exercise of power. And that the best way to get people to do things is to put fear under their skin.
Jonathan Freedman’s experience
A wise psychologist by the name of Jonathan Freedman conducted an interesting experiment illustrating the previous point. He attended a school where he took a group of children and took them, one by one, to a special room where there were several inexpensive toys and caps, among which stood out a fantastic robot filled with lights and lights. artifacts that he operated remotely. In this context, he told the child to leave the room for a few minutes, And during that time he could play with any of the toys except the robot.
“If you touch the robot then I’ll find out and be very, very angry,” he told her with his best ogre face. He then left the room and watched what the boy was doing through a glass mirror. Obviously, almost all of the children who had the experience had difficulty controlling their impulses and avoided approaching the robot.
In the second condition of the same experiment, Freedman simply told the children, that while he was away for a few moments, they could entertain him by playing, but that “it was not right for them to play with the robot. “. In this case, he did not resort to any threats of any kind, he simply assured them that it was not fair to touch the robot. On this occasion, as on the previous one, practically all the children avoided approaching the robot, and they settled for other unattractive toys.
The effect of lack of authority
But what’s interesting is what happened a little over a month later. Freedman sent a collaborator to the same school to repeat the same sequence with the same children, from both groups. Only this time, when the woman had to get out of the bedroom, she said absolutely nothing to the children. In other words, they were free to do whatever they wanted.
What happened turned out to be absolutely amazing and revealing. The boys of the first group, who a month earlier had avoided playing with the robot by complying with an external command issued by a smiling adult, not be present now this adult and disappeared, therefore, the threat, they felt free to play with the forbidden toy.
In contrast, the boys in the second group, not yet Freadman in attendance, did the exact same thing as the previous occasion and stayed away from the flashy robot. In the absence of an external threat, in the first place, it seemed that they had developed their own internal arguments, which was why they should not play with the robot.
Then maybe convinced that it was his decision, and not someone else’s arbitrary impositionThey felt inclined to act in a manner consistent with their beliefs. These children, seemingly sheltered from outside pressures, took responsibility for their own actions, presumably feeling that it was they who voluntarily chose what they wanted to do.
The importance of motivation
The morality is clear: both punishments and rewards are external motivations that do not generate long-term commitment, with the desired behavior disappearing as soon as the desired consequence disappears.
In everyday life, I have often seen with my own eyes how some parents, even worse, punish their children force them to do homework or read a book, Create the misconception that these activities are in themselves bad, unpleasant and worth avoiding. In return, they reward them with more hours of television and video games, reinforcing the idea that these activities are desirable and carry great power of gratification.
Yes, dear readers. It is common these days for our children to grow up believing that reading is despicable and should be avoided at all costs, and watching television is the path to enjoyment and personal success. If you are the father of a small child, or plan to be so soon, I entrust you to do it right: educate him on the basis of a minimum of moral criteria if he ultimately wants to become a good adult. . All you need is this. Don’t teach him to obey for fear of punishment.
At some point, if you are lucky, you will get old. Don’t complain if your son, who has always been bullied, has grown into a resentful adult and decides to put him in a dying geriatric hospital or send him on vacation to Ethiopia in the middle of summer.