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Is Punishment Really The Way?

When I first became a mother, I was on my own with 2 new babies and everything was unknown to me. As my kids got older, I found ways for us to work and grow together. If you were to ask any of my friends, they would tell you that I was the last person they expected to have children, especially before everyone else! While everyone was babysitting through their teen years, I had office jobs. The first baby I ever held was my own! As my kids got older and discipline became an important part of their development, I found myself going about things differently than I had seen.

With my children I found that the “traditional” methods of punishment weren’t helpful to either of us. In an effort to avoid being punished kids may tend to lie. As parents each time your child does something wrong you have to think of another punishment and at a point you run out of ideas! Punishing my kids ended up punishing me as well. Some believe that punishment leads to a lesson, that because we lose something, or have something taken away we learn not to exhibit the behavior that led to that consequence again. What if instead we just had a discussion? What if, instead of things being taken away, or being sent to a room, we had to sit down and get to the root of the problem. It would take more time then taking a phone away or doling out an arbitrary grounding; but in the end both you and your child will walk away with not only an understanding or the situation, but more importantly each other.

I don’t believe you can teach a child how to behave, you must lead by example. For instance, you cannot scream at your child to get them to stop screaming! If you’d like your child to read more, don’t make reading part of their punishment for staying out too late; instead read yourself! Have your child see you exhibiting the behaviors you’d like to see from them and over time they will begin to emulate you and your behaviors. As adults we learn from experience as do our children!

This past year I have dealt with moving from Europe to NYC with two teenagers. It has been challenging to say the least. I have been adapting to a new environment, new influences, and changing dynamics. I have been working hard to understand my son particularly; I tried punishments, but things only got better when I worked to understand his point of view, even though it was a struggle.

Ultimately each of us has a purpose in this life, and each in singular to the individual. I have come to realize that my children, though mine, are on this planet for their own purpose and their own mission. It is my job to make sure they are safe, sheltered, fed, exposed to the right things, and to loan a helping hand if they need one. Other than that, I have to be comfortable with them making mistakes, messing up, failing, and even doing things I may not agree with.

Barack Obama said, “You can’t let your failures define you. You have to let your failures teach you.” I am hoping my children learn from each of their failures and that they see me do the same and follow my lead!

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