Magda Gerber On Punishment

“Punishment in the traditional sense has no relation to, or is out of proportion to, what the child has done. It is damaging to a young child’s confidence because it creates a sense of blame or shame. A young child may not fully understand why he is being punished. Punishment is rarely an effective deterrent.

Your child may, for example, scribble crayon drawings on the wall. For a long time children don’t know why one thing is good or accepted and another isn’t. If a child draws on paper, everybody says, “How nice!” but doing it on a wall isn’t okay. It takes children time to understand what is and is not acceptable behavior.

A parent once asked me what I would do with a child who has drawn on the wall, and whether I would punish him. I answered, “I would punish the parents.” A child young enough to want to draw on walls needs supervision. If he’s playing in his safe-proofed room, remove the crayons. Setting and enforcing appropriate limits help avoid the use of punishment. ”

– Magda Gerber (Your Self-Confident Baby, pg. 209)The Way We Talk To Children

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