Six Dubious Discipline Techniques

The type of punishment you choose will influence your child's behavior. Here are six examples of what not to do when punishing your child.

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Here are six disciplinary techniques that fall into the category “dubious.” Dubious techniques may have their place, with certain kids, certain families, in certain situations. I present them to you with a lot of caveats. Read closely! (You'll find a few here that are often considered essential and effective.)

The dubious six disciplinary techniques are:

  • assigned reading
  • caring for a younger sibling
  • chores
  • constructive criticism
  • grounding
  • removing privileges
Behave Yourself!

Knock off the guilt trips! If you've used dubious or destructive disciplinary techniques in the past, don't beat yourself up about it. Work on changing. It's never too late to start using positive methods.

Behave Yourself!

Don't make the mistake of thinking that the “dubious” techniques are stronger, or harder hitting than the effective big seven. They are less effective, and more punitive.

Assigned Reading

I know parents who use reading as a consequence for misbehavior, and I'm dubious. Yes, it's gentle, nonviolent, and educational, but I believe that reading, especially reading outside of school, should be fun, not linked in any way, shape or form to unpleasantness. Besides, it encourages children to change their behavior in order to avoid reading.

It's not the child who loves to read who is likely to get into trouble for not reading, it's more likely to be a child who isn't enjoying reading, or is having trouble with it. Forcing this child to read additional material as a consequence for not reading makes no sense. Yes, it's related to the misbehavior, but it won't serve your eventual goals, which should include helping him improve his reading, and enjoying books. Good readers are readers who love reading, and kids who love books become good readers. Why jeopardize that relationship?

Here's a situation where assigned reading might be effective as a disciplinary consequence:

  • Your child is a book-a-holic and there is no risk of assigned reading (no matter how dry) turning him off, and
  • You are using the assigned reading as part of an educational consequence (see the effective big seven, above) where the book is educating him, enlightening him, or making him more sensitive to an issue.

Caring for a Younger Sibling

Parents often assign a child to care for a younger sibling as a way to teach responsibility. That's fine, but don't impose it as a consequence for negative behavior!

Making a child care for a younger sibling as a consequence for misbehavior will teach the child to associate the younger sibling with the misbehavior, and with behaving poorly. Your child will learn responsibility best when it makes him feel wanted and needed (and when the responsibility is satisfying and enjoyable. Don't associate family responsibility with coercion. (It's also unfair to the younger child. Would you like to be considered a punishment?)

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