That’s not fair! Or is it?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What does it mean to treat a child fairly? Does it mean equally? Does it mean the punishments must be the same for all the children in your household, ie. Timeout or taking away toys.

I raised this once at a workshop that I conducted and a mother was shocked that I do not punish or reward my children in the same way. One parent immediately remarked that her children would complain that this was “unfair”.
My children do not realise the difference, perhaps because I have done this from an early age with them and perhaps also because the punishment or reward suits their personality style so they don’t even notice because their foundational needs are met.

I discovered early on, that my one child responded well to time out but only in his bedroom and it served more as a time for him to calm down and reflect on his own behaviour rather than a punishment. Why is this? I noticed that he is energetic and very quick to act sometimes without realising the consequences of his actions. By putting him in timeout it was so he could learn to ‘think’ about consequences and actions. He also responded to instant rewards. He had no patience to wait 10 days.
For my other child – the idea of timeout doesn’t really have an impact as he is a sulker and if in trouble tends to stay away from us intentionally until he is ready to talk or discuss the real issue. So with him it normally entails some ‘shock’ factor to get him motivated to change his ways like letting him know someone else, like his teacher or someone else he respects, will know about it. He does like to please and this usually gets him to change his behaviour or make a better choice quite quickly. He also responds to money as a reward and doesn’t mind saving his money to buy something of value.

Rewards or discipline we choose should teach a lesson and lead to new behaviour – if this is not happening then we need to look at our approach.

As these examples may demonstrate, a one size fits all approach does not work and once we know what our children’s needs are we can parent with more freedom and choice whilst still having a positive effect. What are your thoughts?

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