DVD Facilitator's Guide - Lesson 9

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The Reasons Punishment Doesn't Work


  • Parents will realize that any artificially created consequence for a given behavior will be defined as punishment for the purposes of this course.
  • Parents will learn that any use of punishment will bring about the maximum in natural human resistance to change (known as the "push-back response") in their children.
  • Parents will learn that punishment removes the focus of both the "punisher" (the parent) and the "punishee" (the child) from the behavior in question.
  • Parents will learn that punishment arouses and focuses anger on the "punisher" (the parent.)
  • Parents will learn that punishment induced behavior extinguishes (goes away) very rapidly, especially when the child is outside the presence of the punishment.
  • Parents will learn that punishment traps the "punisher" into maintaining the punishment schedule and following through on threats or promises.
  • Parents will learn that punishment does not teach accountability but rather, it teaches kids that their parents are accountable for the kid's behavior.
  • Parents will learn, most of all, punishment denies a child the right to experience the real consequences of their actions.

Key Concepts:

  • The ideas in our children's heads, not our punishment, will rule their worlds. It doesn't matter what you say or do to your child; it is what your child says to him/herself that will determine what becomes their reality. As a matter of fact, punishment most often causes a child to say very negative and unproductive things to themselves.
  • The punishment for poor performance is poor performance. It is our job as a child's mentor, to help them see the real consequences of their behavior; not create new ones.
  • The reward for good performance is good performance. It is our job, as a child's mentor, to help them to see the intrinsic rewards in "doing what is right." We do not need to be handing out rewards; we need to help our children find natural satisfaction in performing well.


  • Parents will identify a situation where normally they would resort to punishment as a tool to control one of their children's behaviors. Then, the parent will devise a strategy other than punishment to help the child focus on the natural and real consequences of their action.
  • Next, parents should attempt to help the child pick a substitute behavior to use in that same situation that would bring about a much more appealing and rewarding outcome.


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