Parental Tips

10 ways of punishing the child without shouting, belt or humiliation

Child punishment is a hot topic that always causes discussions in social networks and forums. Some people think that there is nothing worse than slap the child’s bum or give him or her a cuff on the nape. Some people are fully against any physical manifestations of violence and prefer to simply stop talking to the child when he or she has done something wrong. They think that trying to teach the child something with silence is an effective method. (Spoiler – NO!)

So, where is the edge, which separates punishment from violence, how to bring up children not traumatizing their psychological state, but, at the same time, teaching to take responsibility for their actions? This is what we are going to discuss in our new article.


Child punishment


In dictionaries, the word «punishment» is interpreted as applying of wanted and unwanted influences on another person in order to pause or stop undesired or anti-normative behaviour.

Any punishment suggests inequality, as it is imperious coercion of someone to the desired behaviour.

The following facts are always present in punishment:

  • The punisher – some kind of a judge, legislator, which defines what is right and what is wrong.
  • The punished – someone, who, as a result of another person’s actions, is suffering.

There is no doubt that it is best to explain the rules to the child, talk and describe how to behave. For most children, these conversations are enough (it is important to know and be able to talk this way). But all of us are different in our constitution, temperament, personality features, wishes, needs and in a lot more. Therefore, there will always be temperamental children, stubborn, persistent in their desires, who do not want to listen and obey.

Bad behaviour: why isn’t the child obeying


What to do in situations, when the conversation does not help, and the child behaves destructively to others, denies and breaks the rules? To tolerate, argue, go to the psychologist or to hang a belt on the nail?

Before reading on, please, read the following:

  1. Make a list of all encouragements, which you use for bringing up a child. Were you successful?
  2. Now, in the second column, write down all punishments that you use when the child is not obeying.
  3. Compare the two lists. Which one was longer? What was more difficult for you to think of?
  4. Now, write down a specific definition of each point, for example, why are you using this specific encouragement or punishment.

This task highlights what we do not see in our parenthood. In general, we throw out punishments and completely forget about encouraging our children for something good and correctly done. We take for granted everything that the child is doing right, concentrating our attention only on negative things and child lapses.

Why do difficulties in upbringing occur?


Difficulties in child upbringing occur due to several things:

There is not enough variability of methods for impacting the child (informational problem)

The parents would be happy not to shout, but he or she does not know another way due to, for example, the absence of a different solution in their family.

Misbalance of encouragement and punishment, where there is more punishment.

In this case, there is a decrease in the motivation to obey the rules (what is the point in obeying if I will be punished anyway).

Inconsistency in education

  • Unpredictability

When parents have unpredictive behaviour and change punishment methods for the same mistake (sometimes they shout, sometimes slap, sometimes they don’t let watch cartoons, or just scold). As a result, the child does not have a specific understanding of «what can happen for what». In this case, punishments are taken as impulsive behaviour of parents. This causes the child to have increased anxiety, and his or her behaviour worsens.

  • Inconsistency

When different family members use different upbringing methods, and there are no specific rules within the family. This causes similar issues as in the first bullet point.

  • Mismatch of the age and requirement from the child that the adult is asking for


There are children, who by the age of 3 talks very well, they are ahead of the children of a similar age by their intellectual development, and, for example, are higher. Such a child is almost always perceived by his parents as more adult than he really is, and he begins to be required to perform such actions and complex instructions as if he were an older preschooler.

  • Neurological issues and developmental problems

There are children whose parents don’t see developmental difficulties behind bad behaviour.

  • Hyperactivity

The deficit of attention syndrome can be supported by the impulsivity of the child or a teenager, attention disruption and violation of concentration and volitional qualities. In this case, children break the rules and do not obey, not because they don’t want to, but because they cannot remember the instruction to keep in the boundaries of what is allowed. The mistake, in this case, is to have too much pressure on the child and to demand.

  • Inconsistency of parental behaviour and not clear rules for everyone

In this case, the child’s state can be compared to the new driver, who doesn’t know the traffic rules. He breaks the rules without knowing them or with the hope that he will be able to get out of it, as it already worked before.


  • Different upbringing tactics in all family members

This can bring about anxiety in children, as a result of which he or she becomes misbehaving and moody.

  • Overuse of prohibitions

Sometimes, parents are so worried about their child’s safety or «correct upbringing» that in their house, as well as outside, you can only hear «you are not allowed», «get away from there», «don’t touch it», «it is still too early for you». Just as the whole world becomes prohibited. This situation is not acceptable for the child, which is just discovering the world and has a very strong interest in everything new. Therefore, it is logical for him or her to «stop listening» to these prohibitions.

  • Lack of attention from adults

If the child lacks attention from the family, then, he or she is starting to attract it using all possible methods, including misbehaviour. Indifference, in this case, can be worse than punishment for children.

Punishment in the culture of different countries


There have been many monocultural and several cross-cultural studies regarding child punishment. According to the statistics, 7% of countries are using physical punishments for their children, but they are «often» used only in 20% of societies. In 82% of cultures, suggestion, demonstration of behavioural examples are usually used, in comparison to physical punishment.

There are cultures, where beating children and some sort of physical effect are not used at all. For example, Canadian Bedouins-Inuits never beat their children and give them full independence of actions. If the child misbehaves, they start laughing at him or her and teasing, and if he or she is ignoring – they stop talking to him or her.

In Japanese culture, there are periods of permissiveness – from birth to 5 years old. In this period, they try not to demand from child good behaviour, don’t make remarks and do not limit his or her behaviour. At this stage, parents only explain why it is best not to behave in this or other way and express their upset from misbehaviour. However, to the moment when the child goes to school, his or her behaviour is regulated by the behavioural norms.

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Can you punish or scold a child?

If by punishment, you mean beating up and shouting – then, no. If we talk about prohibitions and methods of maintaining behaviour and set boundaries – then, yes. In any case, prohibitions should be present.

A full-fledged parent is not the one, who is only praising the child but is that, who creates conditions for development.

Criteria and reasons for punishment

Because any punishment is an action that causes the suffering of the subject, there are several criteria that are very important while choosing a punishment method for the child:

  • Actions that help to perform the punishment

There are many of them: from the sign of disapproval or a simple verbal remark to harmful beating.


  • Tools, which are used to perform the punishment

This can be a word or a belt.

  • Legitimation

Ways of punishment justification, proof of their need, lawfulness and proportionality.

Each punishment generally has a goal. No one with a healthy mind is not punishing the child for anything, in advance, for prophylaxis or due to a bad mood. All punishments generally bring to three goals:

  1. To revenge.
  2. To scare the child, so he or she does not repeat similar actions in future.
  3. Long term changes of values motivation, behavioural changes.

8 forbidden actions or how not to punish


What actions are considered forbidden? What can’t you do while punishing? We will talk about this below:

Beat up

In 2004, the parliamentary assembly of the UN announced a pan-European ban on physical punishment of children. But the results of Americal surveys, 90% of parents believe in the efficacy of flogging.

!!! Physical punishment is an ineffective way of upbringing – it contributes to the maintenance of «punishment subculture» (pugnacity, identification with aggressiveness). Aggression can only generate aggression or fear as a way of suppressing aggression. Neither is conducive to building confidence and the ability to realize.


Laugh and criticise in public. This badly affects self-esteem and traumatizes the psychological state.

Intimidate on behalf of supernatural beings or on their own behalf

There is a risk that the child will be afraid and grow up anxious.

Insult using labelling words

«You are messy», «you are like…» and so on – be careful with these words. The child may believe them and will take on this setting for the whole life.

Blame the «bad genetics» («You are the same as your dad»)


Do not try to win back your personal conflicts with the current of an ex-husband on your child. The child cannot «out» the existing «bad» part from him- or herself. This is not something he has chosen, and he cannot take responsibility for even the worst parent. This tactic brings about a lot of shame in the person, which can manifest in various ways in well-being and behaviour.

Punish for something the child cannot control (for example, for enuresis, tics, motor awkwardness)

With these punishments, children become exhausted and desperate, trying to stop unwanted manifestations, and the symptoms are only increasing. Despite this, the upset is supported with shame and the child’s self-esteem greatly suffers.

Reject (not talk, ignore, deprive love), set up boycott, say «I don’t love you anymore»

For the child, this is the worst punishment. Parental rejection is accepted inside as a danger to life. It doesn’t go away with age and in many adults, we can see echoes of such behaviour in their childhood.

Infringe on basic needs

Never punish the child with food, walks, essentials and full development.

Punishments: how is it possible? 7 «legal» ways to punish


Method of natural consequences

This method is the most unpainful and adequate at any age. For example, the child is 3, and he wants to weak winter trousers on a summer day. You can tell him why you think that shorts will be more suitable for the walk, but do not try to affect the decision. Give him or her the ability to see themselves that wearing these clothes will make him or her feel hot.

What has been learned with self-experience will be remembered for a long time.


Often, instead of remark (when the parent draws attention to something), there are reproaches and criticism («You always have a mess»). It is important for this not to be a reproach, but rather a way of searching for problem-solving.

For example, «I got upset or angry when I step on the details of the constructor game that is all over the floor. Let’s think together; what can we do with it».



A method, when the child is taken away from the common space to a separate room and is left there alone for some time. This allows to increase the distance between an adult and a child and to «calm down», to regulate emotions.

It is considered that for the child, who has been left in loneliness, the interval of the time in minutes that is multiple of his or her age, is not traumatizing. For example, for a 3-year old it is 3 minutes, for a 4-year old – 4 minutes, and so on. A room where you take the child to “calm down» should be bright and with a window. It cannot be a stockroom, toilet or another dark space.


Do not reward unwanted behaviour with attention. A good method, which is very difficult to complete – it is, generally, difficult for adults to keep self-control and not to react to the negative manifestations in the child’s behaviour.


This is when the child is deprived of something important or wished as a result of bad behaviour. For example, there is a prohibition to watch cartoons or play computer games.

It is important for the child to know initial agreements, why and what has he been deprived of as a result of not obeying the rules.

For pre-school children, these rules can be drawn, or, if the child knows how to read, written on the plastic board or a piece of paper and hung on the wall. Often, children misbehave not because there are villains, but because they have forgotten.

Method of symbolic economics


This is a very well working method for average school-age children and teenagers. The actions that the child can be rewarded for and the actions that make him or her lose «points» are decided at a family council.

Here, it is important to develop a system of rewards, accumulation and writing-off points. Then, the accumulated points can be exchanged for something valuable for the child (for example, buying a car toy, magazine or something else) or not (for example, extra 15 minutes of playing a computer game, table game with parents or a walk with friends).

In this method, it is important for the points not to be easily available, but not too difficult as well. In both cases, there will be a decrease in motivation.


This method can be used when the child disobeyed important rules.

For example, for each breaking of rules, the bedtime starts 15 minutes earlier. That is, the child goes to bed not at 21:00, but at 20:45.

4 ways of influencing the child’s behaviour without punishments


Are there ways of influencing the child’s behaviour without punishment? Yes. It is encouragement and attention to good behaviour and changes in behaviour to the desired direction, even though this looks very simple (simplicity here is only on the first sight).

Attention to details

The most effective method of upbringing with the goal of changing the undesired behaviour of the child is to pay attention to him or her, to notice all that is considered as desired and to ignore violations and difficult behaviour of the kid.

The point is to provide the child with the attention and praise when he or she is progressing to the direction, where we want them to progress.

With this, it is very important to use «description praise», and not judgemental. In other words, you have to say «I am proud of how polite you treated the kids at the playground today and teachers at the kindergarten. You managed to sit still when you really wanted to run around. I paid attention that you nearly haven’t made mistakes in your work; you tried hard to write everything neatly» instead of «You have been a good boy today».

Rewarding excellent behaviour


Rewarding always works better than punishing.

Highlight the virtues and strong side of the child

This will allow the child to rely on them. Ultimately, if we are talking the truth here, it is more important for the child to feel strong and to be able to cope with difficulties. Criticism and punishment are not going to help him or her to cope with it. We all need support.

Praise in advance

You can try to praise for the quality that the child does not have yet. For example, he is being rude and is often inattentive in communication, and you are, oppositely, noting to him that you are happy that he or she can be polite. Tell the child this sometimes.

If we treat people better than they are – they can have the motivation to become this and to grow to that treatment.

15 pieces of advice for parents, who are thinking about the problem of upbringing methods and child punishment


  1. Punishment should always be based on something.
  2. Punishment should be understood by the child
  3. Rules and boundaries give a feeling of self-esteem and safety.
  4. Parents should not always be the ones setting the rules and watching that they are obeyed. Harmonic participation of the child in setting up and obeying is also useful.
  5. Show your love more.
  6. Consider your child as the one who can do a lot and who is talented. Actions should give the feeling of power and abilities, but not helplessness and despair.
  7. Avoid cruelty.
  8. Be flexible in communication, think of methods, ways of saving the love and strong bonds with your child.
  9. Change the rules according to the child’s age and circumstances. Something that a pre-schooler is not allowed can be allowed to the teenager (for example, returning home at 20.00 and not at 18.00, or to go to bed a little later).
  10. Be consistent. Inconsistency of rewards and punishments is the way to neurosis.
  11. Separate personality and behaviour. If someone misbehaves, he or she is not bad. The action can be bad, but everyone can make a mistake.
  12. Do not threaten with unrealistic consequences that you cannot provide. Try not to threaten at all.
  13. There are set rules in each family. Do not try to find the prepared ones.
  14. The rules are for everyone – for adults and children.
  15. Do not pick. If you often feel irritated – try to understand what it is related with. Sometimes, the reasons are not in child behaviour, but in your health.

It is important to understand one thing: do not feel helpless if the child misbehaves. Try to find methods, ask for help from specialists. Try different approaches. Do not lose the person behind all these upbringing methods, even though he is still small. Remember that the most effective upbringing method is love, sympathy and self-development.



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