Punishment and reward: Top tips for raising kids

  • 21/06/2016
Nathan Wallis
Nathan Wallis

Nathan Wallis is a consultant in the field of educational neuroscience. These are his five top tips for punishing and disciplining children.

1.       Role modelling

Children generally act as their parent does, so if you want well-behaved children, be well-behaved yourself.

2.       Show them the way

Empower the child by telling them what to do instead of not what to do. If a two-year-old smacks someone else over the head to take a toy and you say, 'That's naughty. Time out on the naughty chair', that doesn't empower the child with any of the information about what they are supposed to do instead.

3.       Induction

Induce the child into thinking something's their own idea.

You might say, 'All right, then, if you can't take your plate to the bench, I'll do it for you. I just thought you'd know how to do it, because big schoolboys know how to do it. But if you don't know how to…'

4.       Reward

Reward the behaviour you really want. It might be five times of ignoring your son being quite selfish towards his sister and then noticing and commenting on the one time he hands her a glass of water.

5.       Avoid punishment

I would avoid punishment all together. The fact you think you can punish somebody into being a good person just shows you're a New Zealander who culturally believes it, even though there's 150 years of research which shows it's not true.

I'm always having people to say me, 'Oh, my parents smacked me. It did me no harm'. It's quite a leap for New Zealanders to understand that probably the reason you're a good person is the 99.9 percent of time they were nurturing and loving and looking after you, not the 0.1 percent of time they were smacking you.

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