Punishment to fit the crime?\


C made a bad choice with a friend last night.

She was duly punished. And then some. But how far is too far? What is appropriate?

When she was a toddler I went to a forum run by early childhood educators about punishment. Their message was that all punishment should have a direct correlation to the crime at hand and should not involve shame. When I said that my cousins have a naughty chair that works very well, and that their kids are very well behaved, I was told that this is the wrong philosophy. What are they learning other than shame? She asked. I tried to explain that they will have a cause-effect. She said that it has to be related: e.g. if a child is caught steeling candy from your snack stash, then the kid doesn't get sweets for a while. (There is a similar debate about the use of a Traffic Light in the early grades at BRRSD. I must admit that I am not a fan - that there are plenty of other ways to punish/praise a child's behavior.) In my punishments I always seem to include a Tablespoon of shame.

I have never been able to learn "the experts'"lessons very well. I can be scary and mean. I truly believe that C and N's friends are afraid of me when I get mad. Even my father commented on my behavior when I got the call while walking around the bookstore. "I wasn't as worried about what C was doing, but how loudly you were yelling into your cell phone. People were staring!"

There are always consequences for mistakes. C will learn that this week. I can't put her in a naughty chair (after that lecture, I have struggled to link punishment to crime) but I like the idea of community service. Making amends. She's already grounded - my MIL and FIL leave tomorrow (we won't see them again until July, and maybe not here until 2010) and they had plans with her today. Am I fair in punishing them too? They promised to take her 2 places today.

I always fear that other Moms will judge me as being a bad Mom (that's what parents do in BW) so I came down extra hard. The other mother will learn that C is paying for her mistakes.

I just have to remember that it isn't about me judging me, it's about developing her character and guiding her to make good choices.

I need guidance in making good choices too.

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