The Edmond Sun

Features

November 15, 2013

LIVING WITH CHILDREN: Punishment, consequences do not always provide desired results

BALTIMORE — Q: We have discovered that our 17-year-old son recently went to school, checked in, and then, a short time later, left. To our knowledge, he’s never done this before. His explanation was that he was bored and just wanted to have some free time. We are at a loss as to how to respond. What consequence or consequences do you think are appropriate?

A:
This is a great question because it raises some very important considerations concerning the use of consequences.

Today’s parents seem to believe two things about consequences: first, that when a child misbehaves, the child’s parents should apply a negative consequence; second, that consequences, properly selected and properly used, work. There is some truth to both of these assumptions, but both come with caveats.

To the first assumption: Consequences should be used very conservatively. When they are used liberally, the parents in question are guilty of trying to micromanage misbehavior. Any type of micromanagement will result, ultimately, in negative outcomes. Over-using consequences can lead to full-scale rebellion, for example.

Taking this situation, in order for me to answer your question with any degree of confidence, I would need some background information. Is your son a repeat offender? Does he have a history of willfully irresponsible, rebellious behavior? Are his grades up to his ability level? In other words, is this a blip or is it part of an overall pattern that has been developing over some time? If it’s a blip, then the fact that he was caught is price enough. If it’s part of an overall pattern, then it’s definitely time to apply consequences.

You can, for example, take away any and all electronic devices — computer, cell phone, video game, and MP3 player — until certain behavior and academic goals have been met and the improvement has sustained itself over, say, a month. But that would not be my response if he’s a generally good kid who just took a brief walk on the wild side one day. My response to that would be “I hope, for your sake, that this doesn’t happen again.”

To the second assumption: Consequences work reliably, predictably, with dogs, rats and other lower life forms. They do not work reliably with human beings. It may surprise the reader to learn that no research psychologist, including B. F. Skinner (the “father” of behavior modification theory) himself, has ever conclusively demonstrated that rewards and punishments have predictable outcomes when used on humans. In fact, there is a growing body of anecdotal and research-based evidence to the effect that (a) rewards can actually lower performance and/or stimulate an increase in misbehavior, and (b) punishment can similarly backfire. Those risks are increased the more rewards and punishments are used.

When you hear a parent say, “I’ve punished my child consistently for misbehaving, and he keeps right on misbehaving,” the problem may be the first half of the parent’s statement.

FAMILY PSYCHOLOGIST John Rosemond answers parents’ questions at parentguru.com. His column is distributed by McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

1
Text Only
Features
  • jc_Earp Marlin 2 - photo credit Noel Winters.jpg Shootout of a sale

    An original article of the Wild West will be made available at auction Thursday. The rifle of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp will be part of the J. Levine Auction & Appraisal’s Summer Quarterly Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.
    Earp was an Arizona deputy sheriff and deputy town marshal in Tombstone, Ariz. He is legendary for playing a key role in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He died in 1929 at age 60.
    Wyatt Earp collector Barry Tapp of Edmond will be selling his 1895 Wyatt Earp Marlin rifle at the auction. The rifle has an estimated value between $50,000 and $75,000. It includes authentication documentation from Tombstone Heritage Museum, according to the auction house

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • 11.6.12 Mother and Cub (2).jpg UCO forensic researcher answers key question

    After working a few human recovery cases on a volunteer basis with a variety of police departments, a question kept bugging Kama King.
    “You spend the whole day,” the UCO W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute student said, “sometimes days, searching for someone and only find a skull or a few bones and it just ate at me. Are we not finding this or is it not there to be found?”

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Karan & Rwanda.jpg Peace through Business empowering women entrepreneurs

    Peace Through Business is part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) based in Oklahoma City. It is a program that connects small business entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda with business owners in Oklahoma. One such entrepreneur found out about the program from a friend, applied, and was accepted to take part in this year’s session.
    Upon earning a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universite de Sciences et Technique de Lille in Belgium, Lyliose Nduhungirehe began her career working for a construction company in Brussels, but she quickly switched paths to Information Technology.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How to care for your pet without breaking the bank

    It’s a shame furry friends can’t pay for themselves. Though wagging tails after a long day at work may make pet ownership seem worthwhile, a happy pup won’t stop those bills from rolling in at the end of the month. Thankfully, quick and easy ways exist for dog owners to cut down on costs.

    July 28, 2014

  • MS_new pastor_Page_1.tiff Local church welcomes new pastor

    For one of Edmond’s newest pastors, faith and family intersect on a personal level.
    Sam Powers, pastor at Edmond 1st United Methodist Church, 305 E. Hurd St., and his family arrived in mid-May and his first Sunday in the pulpit was the second one in June. He and his wife Sheryl Heaton Powers, have two children — Kyla will be an eighth-grader at Cheyenne Middle School and David will be a fifth-grader at John Ross Elementary.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • pm_Ramona Paul.jpg Keith, 5 others to receive service awards

    The 2014 Door-Opener Awards Gala dinner and silent auction Sept. 4, benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools, will recognize five outstanding Oklahomans and one Kansan for lifetime contributions made toward helping others in society maximize potential and achieve dreams.
    Those selected to receive a Door-Opener Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include Dr. Harvey Dean, Pittsburg, Kan.; Toby Keith and Tricia Covel, Norman; Former Gov. George P. Nigh, Edmond; the late Dr. Ramona Paul, Edmond; and Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma City.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • MS_Andy Billups.jpg Local man relies on experience in July 4 emergency

    Andy Billups just happened to have gained experience as a combat zone firefighter/medic while he was serving as a civilian contractor in Iraq.
    The Edmond businessman just happened to have a friend with a place on Grand Lake where he has been viewing Independence Day fireworks for a number of years, and he just happened to be there July 4.
    And he just happened to be relaxing on a hammock when he heard a some kids making a commotion.
    Located two blocks east of Disney on State Highway 28 in the foothills of the Ozark Mountain Range in northeast Oklahoma, the 59,000-plus surface acre Grand Lake is known for its state parks, marinas, restaurants, motels and fishing.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • -1.jpg 5-year-old learns valuable lessons

    It is never too soon to learn about giving and receiving. An Edmond 5-year-old recently learned about both.
    Kendall Kingry will be entering kindergarten at Will Rogers Elementary this fall and she is already looking forward to November.
    “I get to go to Disneyland in November,” Kendall said.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • peach formatted.jpg Hard year for peaches doesn’t dampen summer tradition  

    A rusting, silver-colored water tower tells visitors to this rural town between Muskogee and Tulsa that they’ve come to the “Peach Capitol of Oklahoma.”
    Residents of Stratford, the state’s other self-proclaimed peach capital, might beg to differ. Even so, Porter is known for its peaches, and every year thousands of people flood this town of about 600 residents to taste and celebrate the local crop during the three-day Peach Festival.
    Like the aging water tower, Porter’s peach industry isn’t as vibrant as it once was.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Final step to train toddler with baby on way

    Q: Using your advice, I successfully toilet-trained my daughter by age 16 months. It is now three months later and we are still using diapers at naps and nighttime. At her nap, which lasts several hours, she fully soaks her diaper. At night, she is taking off her diaper prior to falling asleep, wetting the bed after she goes to sleep and then crying for us when she wakes up in a pool of pee. Is this a sign that I should begin night training? I'm hesitant to do this because I am 8 months pregnant and don't relish the idea of waking up several times a night to take her to the bathroom and tending to a newborn as well. I would prefer to continue using diapers until she is old enough to get out of bed and take herself to the potty (even a potty in her room). Is this unrealistic? Or should I just deal with the extra night wakings and start taking her to the potty a few times a night now? If not, how do I keep her diaper on at night?

    July 25, 2014