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As parents, we sometimes oscillate between a refusal of punishment and its unthinking use, under the influence of anger. The child psychiatrist Gilles-Marie Valet explains how to make a more rational and efficient use.
Why is punishment no longer fashionable?
- Today, to stick to the image of the "good parent", one must be in the understanding of his child, his needs, his desires. However, for many parents, the punishment, which is part of the frustration of his child, hinders this understanding. They see it as incompatible with a modern and intelligent education. Many also are not confident enough in their role to assume to impose frustration on their child and cope with his eventual rejection. For some parents, a "I do not love you anymore" or "you are too mean" launched by their child they have just punished is unbearable.
Is it a shame to give up this tool?
- Yes, the systematic refusal of punishment can then lead to paradoxical attitudes and too intense reactions once the parents are totally overwhelmed by their child. But let me be clear: I am not saying that we must punish a child at all costs, but simply that in certain circumstances it can be useful and educational.
When can a punishment be educational?
- When it comes to sanction the transgression of a rule or the realization of something that the parent had clearly forbidden. It intervenes so that the child understands that his behavior is not acceptable and also so that it does not reproduce it. For a stupidity to be punishable, it obviously implies that the prohibition had been clearly stated before by the adult. What appears to be obviously forbidden in the eyes of parents is not always so for the child!
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