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Parenting Kids Without Rewards or Punishment

by Erica Loop

While nearly every parent wants to think that her precious little angel is just that, sometimes parenting requires you to correct your child's actions or behaviors. These corrections typically take one of two forms -- rewards or punishments. If you are looking for an alternative way to parent without rewards or punishment, there are certainly viable options that will allow you to discipline without handing out cookies to or grounding your child.

Discipline Without the Punishment

According to the International Child and Youth Care Network, punishment doesn't work as a response to negative behavior. While it's easy to presume that discipline and punishment are the same thing, there are certainly ways to moderate your child's behaviors without using techniques that are equally as negative as her actions. Instead of reacting in a punishing way by yelling at or grounding your child, try talking to her. Calmly discuss her behavior, reinforcing any positives that you can find. Keep in mind that reinforce doesn't mean reward. For example, if your 10 year old is talking back to you, explain to her that this behavior is disrespectful and that you like it when she speaks politely to you. Continue to reinforce the use of a courteous tone while discussing the problems related to talking back if future instances occur. This doesn't reward any way of talking to you, not does it punish your child. Instead, it helps to reinforce the behaviors that you expect to see.

Time Outs

Although some parents, and certainly some kids, see time outs as a form of punishment, in reality they are a different form of discipline. During the time out, the child is literally having "time out" from what she is doing or the negative behavior that she is engaging in. While this form of discipline is commonplace with parents of young children, the children's health and development website Kids Health also explains that time outs are equally effective with older children in grade school.

Praise Vs. Rewards

Providing praise to your child in an effort to reinforce positive behaviors and dissuade negative ones isn't exactly the same as giving out rewards. While rewarding your child may include something such as a sticker chart, a treat or even a monetary "prize" for good behaviors and actions such as getting an A on a test, praise simply lets your child know that she is on the right track. Praise can also help to offset frustration and promote development. According to the Kids Health website, praise is a useful parenting tool when helping kids to reach their goals, master new tasks or instill independence.

Natural Consequences

The child development experts at Kids Health note that natural consequences are a viable way to parent without using a reward or punishment. This is especially true for kids in the later elementary school years, from age 9 and up. Allowing your child to experience the consequences of her negative actions or behaviors can help to teach a valuable lesson. This may include allowing your child to see for herself how staying up late can effect her mood the next day or suffering the consequences of submitting a late assignment.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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