Archive d’étiquettes pour : punishment

The punishment… Subject of controversy.
To differentiate between punishment and consequence, for some, it’s only semantics. But when you look a bit more into it, you realize it really isn’t.
We’ve already discussed this question How to talk so kids… in Chapter 3 on punishment.

This time, we’re talking specifically of the teenager, but the principle is the same.


The message is not « I have all powers over you. » (Message sent when you punish, especially a teenager), but: « I’m on your side, let’s raise the bar. »
A different communication, to pass the responsibility onto the child. A stronger message to avoid the situation coming back, without sending the message that he’s a bad person. Always remain respectful.
It is more difficult than to punish the child, but better to force him to assume responsibility. Because by punishing, we enable him to ignore what hes done, and focus on his resentment against us. In fact, it deprives him of his work of taking responsibility.
Thus, by punishing, we may stop the behavior, but we dont allow children to self-correct.

Why is it so hard to change our punishments in consequences? Because there are situations for which there is no consequence. So the parent is frustrated at no being able to really react…
But is it necessary to react? Only seeing the result of his actions is sometimes enough.
In any case, the important steps are:
Express feelings
Express your expectations
Indicate a way to repair
Give a choice
Take action

And if that’s not enough, or if the situation repeats, move to the next phase of conflict resolution (already addressed in How to talk so kids… but thoroughly detailed in this one, in the  next chapter.)

An article to go further on the difference between punishment and consequence:

Back to the book post

This is the 2nd book I read from Adèle Faber and Elaine Mazlish, in fact the first one they wrote, following the ideas of the person who trained them: Dr. Ginott.

I found it very interesting to complement  How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk

When the latter was very structured, with reminder lists at the end of each chapter, this one has more of a narrative form. It is the learning story of the authors, the journey that helped them become who they are.

Before writing books and workshops, they have follow workshops themselves, have struggled to be better mothers, and reflected on the advice they received.
This also is a learning curve for me: it is not as easy to write chapter-by-chapter summaries, it is more the general atmosphere of the book that conveys the messages, letting them sink little by little…

Anyway, I’ll try my best.

Note: There are obviously some ideas that are directly linked with the principles presented in How to talk so kids will listen…, so even though there are more examples in this book, I sometimes use direct references to chapters already detailed in my previous notes.

Table of contents:
1 – In the beginning were the words


2 – They feel what they feel

3 – Feelings and variations

4 – When a child trusts himself

5 – Letting go: a dialogue on autonomy

6. « Good » isn’t good enough: a new way to praise

7 – The roles we cast them in

8 – Don’t change a mind: change a mood


9 – We feel what we feel

10 – Protection – for me, for them, for all of us

11 – Guilt and suffering

12 – Anger

13 – New portrait of a parent


We are here on a sensitive topic, a topic on which Nico and I still aren’t completely aligned.

Reading so much, I have evolved. I now understand much better what my friend Patricia was talking about when she was telling me about the difference between a consequence and a punishment.

A consequence has to a direct relation with what we are trying to correct. A punishment doesn’t.

Examples : « You can’t use my computer because you did not come home on time. » is a punishment.
« You can’t use my computer because last time you did not turn it off, and you know there are shortages here. » is a consequence.

Problem is, there is not always consequences… That’s why we tend to go for the punishment !

But the thing is, I don’t believe anymore in punishment…

The other book, specifically about teenagers, explains really well the reasons for avoiding punishment, so you will need to read my post about that one to really understand it, when it is written… (Later note: it is now written, you can find it here.)


So, how to avoid punishment ?

First, obviously, by better anticipating problematic situations.
That is to say, try and avoid problems, so we don’t even have to think about punishing. Easier said than done?
Sure, but that is the idea of implementing all our new modes of communicating and cooperating! Those exposed in the previous chapter about cooperation are already a good starting point…


Despite that, we can always reach a blocking point. In such a case, how can we react ?

Here’s what is suggested in the book:

1. Express your feelings strongly
(but refraining from the use of any label…)
« I can’t stand to see a child hit another! »

2. State your expectations
« When I lend you my tools, I expect you put them back in the box. »

3. Show the child how to make amends

4. Give the child a choice
« You can play with the ball outside, or play with something else inside. »

5. Take action
Let him experience the consequences
« I see that you chose to stay indoors » –  removing the ball


We had a problem with Oscar, who was leaving his computer lying around on the floor.
There’s an example when the switch in the communication is very clear :
Instead of saying « If you leave your computer on the floor again, I take it away. », we can say : « You have the choice: either you take care of your computer, in particular by not leaving it on the floor, or you decide not to use it. »

It is exactly the same approach of the problem, but the message insists on the fact that he is the actor, he is not only suffering what is being imposed on him…


Despite all this, we can still find ourselves in a repetitive problematic situation. We can then open the discussion and move on to a true 5 step problem solving method.
1. talking first about the feelings and needs of the child
2. talking then about the feelings of the adult
3. seek solutions together, noting all the ideas, without judgment
4. read and decide together which solutions to keep
5. take action
These steps are particularly suitable for older children (see Chapter 4 of How to talk so teens…), but also work with small, as evidenced by this example here.
Side effect of this method of problem-solving: once the child is accustomed to this method, it is an approach that makes sense for him, also in his relationships with others (his brothers and sisters for example).

Back to the book post

This is the first book I read from Adèle Faber and Elaine Mazlish. How - to's

It isn’t the first one they wrote, but definitely their most famous.

During our last year in Mexico (2013/2014), I was part of a book club for parents, organized by the school psychologist. Each month she would suggest some kind of parenting book, and we would then meet to discuss about it.

It was very interesting, except that a book per month was too much. We didn’t have time to really get the concepts and put them into practice!

I missed the January session, because I gave birth on the 31st of December.. And that turned out to be a good thing, because that session was about the book that people enjoyed most! Surprising reflexion? Well: I bought it anyway, and knew I would have more time to read it well!

And in deed, one country later, at the beginning of 2015, I began reading  Cómo hablar…


I spent several months on it, and I learned so many things!

My taste for parenting books was born before, but it’s really reading this one that it developed!

Table of contents:
Chapter 1: Helping children deal with their feelings
Chapter 2: Engaging cooperation
Chapter 3: Alternatives to punishment
Chapter 4: Encouraging autonomy
Chapter 5: Praise
Chapter 6: Freeing children from playing roles
Chapter 7: Putting it all together

(No link to Chapter 7, which is brief and doesn’t bring new knowledge)