Bad behavior. What really makes it bad? How to fix it? How to make my child get it straight? Where to begin from and where to draw the line? Whether to go for rewards just as we used to get as kids, once we depicted good behavior or punishments if done otherwise. However, is that a healthy way to go about it?

I remember a mother ranting about her child’s unruly behavior during family gatherings or public events causing them a fair amount of embarrassment. Luring the kid into more tamed behavior by offering toys or stickers (rewards) failed to have a lasting effect. In addition, punishment instills rather rebellious reactions. Making it nearly impossible to find the middle ground, since parental frustration is very justifiable in situations like these.

We can say this without trouble that every parent faces this dilemma. Shall we ground the child or try convincing them into better behavior by offering healthy treats? The urge to punish or reward in order to instil a certain behavior is only natural. In short, rewards however different, have a sneakily similar effect on a child’s psychological development.

What Geeks Say?

Psychologists have researched parenting psychology for ages and ended up finding four major scientifically recognized parenting styles:

  • Authoritative (demanding yet responsive – healthiest)
  • Permissive (avoiding confrontation kind of parenting – potentially harmful)
  • Neglectful (most harmful style of parenting)
  • Authoritarian (demanding with little open dialogue – strict parenting).

When it comes to choosing between rewarding or punishment style of parenting, rewards are deemed to lower a child’s creative potential and hence a natural motivation and enjoyment to do something.  Research states that rewards limit the creative ability and brain’s capacity to swim in the pool of ideas and possibilities.

Researchers say that the entire idea of rewards and punishments is based on assumptions, which are intrinsically negative. Assumptions like; “the kids lack good intentions” whereas the reality is far from this, kids are intrinsically capable of empathy, cooperation, and hard work. Moreover, the perspective we hold for children in our heads, frames the way we talk to them, strongly! Hence, it is better that we be careful while approaching them for a dialogue.


Dig Deeper!

Every behavior has a reason behind it, sometimes not as obvious. A child misbehaving in public, being a brat or throwing a thousand tantrums, a punishment at that point in time can do more harm than good. Dig deeper to get to the root cause and address it accordingly. Moreover, choose your words wisely, instead of threatening them, try to win their confidence. Therefore, in case they make a mistake they must not think, “Damn, what will my father do to me now” instead, “I must tell my dad now and ask for his help to sort this mess.” should come to their mind.

Switch Help with Punishment

Punishing kids for their acts is like making them suffer for their choices and it barely produces a positive result. Calm your nerves first and then try to help them. This is a psychologically recommended way to go about it. Help them with their wild behavior and it will definitely leave a long lasting impact.

Rather than harshly taking them away from a certain activity, ask them if they need your help to ease out their frustration.

Choose Motivation over Rewarding

Although rewards make children happy, they usually fail to leave a long-lasting impact on them. Motivation, on the other hand, delivers the right message and encourages the child to complete the task. When you motivate your child, as a parent you are putting your trust in their abilities and acting as a team. This way of going about things is not just wholesome but also powerful in terms of leaving a long lasting mark on a child’s behavior. For Example:

Instead of saying: “If you do your homework, then we’ll have your favorite ice cream tonight. No homework means No Ice cream.”

Say this: “Complete your homework in time and we’ll go get your favorite ice cream. Let me know if you need my help with something.”

You can always talk to a family psychologist, if you need help in figuring things out. There are quite a number of them available on the internet, make sure you have a reliable connection, for free first sessions.

Involve them in daily family tasks

Do not avoid confrontation when it comes to family. Sit back, talk, list out the daily family tasks, and engage them into doing them. Utilize their energies positively and involve the toddlers rather than looking for avenues to keep them busy with mobiles and tablets.  Remember, too much exposure to such devices is destructive for their fresh and developing brains. Involving them in daily tasks and chores will not only drive negative energies out of them but also help to inculcate healthy habits in their routines.

No matter how out of hands a situation might seem, just look at it from the perspective that you are there to help. You and your child are one team and you will figure it out together.

Author's Bio: 


Business graduate, writer, traveller, Interior design enthusiast, and a proud dog parent. One of the most amazing things about her is her ability to stay relevant while developing informative yet cools reads. Her work has been posted on multiple blogs and e-zines across the web.