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Monitor & Reflect
It is possible to avoid punishments altogether by teaching your child to monitor and reflect on their own behaviour.
Research has found that when children self-rate their behaviour, it improves, and they learn to create their own internalised standards for acceptable behaviour.
For example, imagine the behaviour you want to target is packing away toys at the end of the day:
"I am so happy you packed away all your toys before dinner. This means we get to spend more time together as a family before bed. I love it when we all get to snuggle in together on the couch and watch TV."
If your child is having trouble reaching the goal, ask them what they could do differently in order to reach the goal (for example, do they need to check with you what time dinner will be ready so they know 10 minutes beforehand to start packing away?).
Taking this approach can help transform their thinking towards doing the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do, rather than looking to external motivators (i.e. punishments or rewards) to motivate their behaviour.
If you would like to learn more about punishments, check out our article on “Why You Should Punish Your Kids“.
Reeve, J. (2005). Understanding Motivation and Emotion: Fourth Edition. John Wiley & Sons: Danvers
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