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Punishing and rewarding, real solutions?

Two strategies, punishment and reward, are spontaneously used and give the illusion of an adequate response when unacceptable behaviour ceases. However, this will not prevent the child from replaying the same scenario repeatedly.

“Many believe it is more humane to use reward rather than punishment. But in both of them, I see power over other people.” Marshall B Rosenberg

Thus, these strategies can be accompanied by adverse effects in addition to relative effectiveness.

  • Punishment often results in the escalation of violence, negative attention seeking or inhibition of the child.

  • Punishment acts on a behaviour perceived as annoying and not on the problem itself;

  • Punishment generates fear, shame and aggressivity.

It may be more difficult to understand why rewards are not satisfactory when used in children's upbringing.

When a child receives a reward for adequate behaviour, they can later reproduce it not because they realised that this attitude was respectful, helpful or generous ... but only to receive the reward.

The evaluation that the adult provides by giving a reward does not enable the child to be autonomous and responsible or to develop a self-evaluation of his/her behaviour.

  • The reward can generate a loss of autonomy and a form of dependence: the child does not develop internal levers but instead regulates himself/herself thanks to the pleasure of the gratification received.

Education without punishment or reward requires an adult-child relationship based on mutual respect.

This way of raising the child is built on the desire to pass on the consequences of their behaviour to the child and let them find solutions on their own.

It is, therefore, a matter of devising an educational framework based on respect, transparency, trust and consistency.

Maria Lamrani Alaoui.

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