Dad's Life

To Tame a Land

Punishment for Children
Discipline is a particularly polarizing subject. Every parent has their own ideas of what counts as discipline and what they think works. However, every child has their own ideas of what is actually discipline.

Maybe it’s due to upbringing and environment.

In my house discipline doesn’t come into play much, and not because I am a lax parent. My daughter was raised to know right from wrong and I have tried hard to get her to view her actions and their implications that way. I’m not saying she doesn’t act up or doesn’t sneak things she shouldn’t -all kids do. However, she doesn’t misbehave as much because she knows that it is wrong and she knows that I will be disappointed greatly by her behavior.

So what type of punishment do I prefer? Well, I am against spanking except for as a “nuclear” option. I generally find I have to vary punishment by whatever she has done.

I used to use timeouts frequently until my daughter realized that isn’t much of a punishment. She has a fantastic mind and can keep herself entertained just sitting in a corner. I remember the exact incident, when she was 5, that taught me that timeouts do not work.

She was sitting in timeout and I noticed she had snuck a toy over to the corner and was playing with it. I quickly found it and took it away. At that point she started using her hands as dolls and said, “you can’t take my hands away.”

It was at that point that I knew I had to up the ante on punishment. She had inherited my brain. You see, at a very early age, I figured that timeouts and being sent to my room were not punishments unless I let them become punishments. They were opportunities.

I won’t go into detail as to what I do for punishment now, but it works and when it doesn’t I will change it again to something else. I know some people would like ideas, but its up to what works for your own kids. I still do not use physical violence and I abhor anyone who does. It teaches kids that you hit to assert power.



  1. So, a child who misbehaves on a regular basis does so because no one taught them right from wrong? Come on! Comparing discipline to SEO, teaching right from wrong would be like optimizing a website. What about the other 75% of the equation? Not to mention each child’s unique and often mysterious algorithm…

    Also, I can appreciate not providing ideas on punishment, but what about behavior reward systems? I am sure you have some good ones that might be helpful to others.

  2. The reason “time out” begins not to work as a punishment is because it was never intended to be used as such. The original concept was called “time out for good behavior”…simply put, it is to give everyone (child and adult) a breather, step back, cool off…then come back to what was happening to then address the issue without all the high emotion of the situation. Which may or may not result in a consequence (or punishment).

    The researchers who first coined the term (names escape me right now) were looking at types of positive parenting. It was recognized that children, even very young ones, can communicate and understand better when they back off from a situation and take a minute to get themselves cooled off and under control.
    It works for adults just a well. How many times in a situation do you find yourself giving yourself a time out? Adults know that if they back off, take a breath, and calm themselves they can approach a difficult or frustrating situation much more calmly and objectively. The objective is to help children learn to self control in the same way. It is a discipline tool…not a punishment in of itself. There is a big difference between discipline and punishment….but often parents don’t realize that. Discipline is about teaching/guiding….punishment is about…well, punishment. Time out was never intended to last more than a few minutes. Such as 2 minutes for a 2 year old, 5 minutes for a 5 year old. Anything longer than that and it becomes little else than “go stand in the corner because you’re being bad!!”
    Like all discipline it requires a parent to be clear to the child why they need a time out…and then to discuss (age appropriately) the expectation and consequences of the child’s behavior. And…of course…some kids are going to need more of that type of thing than others. My first hardly needed any discipline…was easy going and compliant. My other kids all needed different levels of discipline from me. They all come with different wiring and personalities. Not to mention different familial/environmental situations. There is no one right way to raise a kid….but there are some consistencies that help.

    Forgive the long ramble….Being someone who holds a developmental psychology degree I sometimes get on my soap box about the whole misunderstood and misused “time out” topic.

    One thing clear is that you’re a good dad and seem to be handling the discipline job just fine for your child. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *