Punishments don’t teach what we think they’re teaching

When I thought my kids should always do the right thing, and I punished them when they didn’t.

I accidentally created a belief that perfectionism was possible and the goal. 💔

My kids started believing they couldn’t live up to my standards and thought I wanted them to be perfect.

When they couldn’t live up to what they thought I wanted they often felt shame which resulted in more off-track behavior.

👉 When I realized what I was doing — I did my best to let go of punishments and give them lots of space to mess up, make mistakes, and flat out fail.

My goal began to be to cultivate a space where they could make mistakes and have off-track behavior without judgment or punishment. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

This was how I was going to help them learn and grow…not by punishing them but by helping them feel safe so they could discover it for themself.

My expectations had ruined everything.

I thought having expectations would be helpful, but they actually got in the way of my ultimate goal. Which is to help my children fulfill their potential.

👉 When I started out as a mom I didn’t realize that my children would push back the way they did. I was shocked and wanted to fix them. I thought that was the goal, fix the kid’s behavior which I thought equaled turning them into good humans.

I resorted to using what society has taught me to do. Fix the off-track behavior.

I double-downed on using punishments and rewards.

I tried to squish out the unwanted behavior instead of accepting the behaviors and move through them…and seeing the off-track behavior as the way to better behavior instead of the sign that more off-track behavior was on the way.

I practiced and trained myself to come with more calm, more compassion, and NO negative reaction.

💥 I did it imperfectly….but I kept trying. There was no other option.

I had believed for a long time the idea that the best-case scenarios looked like getting the “bad” behavior to stop as quickly as possible. I tried all sorts of things to make this happen.

I thought their behavior was a reflection of my parenting failure and an indication that their future was going to be riddled with trouble and hardship.

I literally couldn’t bear to sit there and watch them act like that. I felt like a failure.

😩😩 And here’s the thing…I couldn’t figure out where I’d gone wrong.

👉 I had done everything I knew to set us up for success. I was homeschooling, reading to them, playing with them, limiting TV, gaming, and sugar. I was doing everything I could think of to create love in our home.

Why wouldn’t the kids just behave? Was I terribly wrong in my assumption that if I did XYZ then my kids would behave? I thought if I did my part my kids would surely do their part right?

Kind of silly to think parenting was transactional like that.

I mean let’s be real…that’s not far or realistic.

✓ We all have days where we just don’t feel like doing what we know we should be doing.

For example, the days were the best version of myself wants to wake up at 6 am and exercise, but when the alarm goes off on Tuesday morning there’s not a bone in my body that wants to get out of bed even if I’ve got plenty of sleep.

I needed to learn to give my kids grace and myself grace.

Humans don’t live lives, like a math equation. We are a bit more unpredictable and messy. 🚀 1+1 with parenting doesn’t always equal 2.

It’s taken years, but my belief regarding parenting has changed.

I could be doing amazing things with my kids and feel really connected with them, and they might not listen, and that’s okay.

Instead of judging myself or my kids I drop into judgment and moved to curiosity and connection so I can keep the relationship strong and find a solution to what’s going on. 💗💗

Now the question I ask is…

👉 “How can I stay connected, calm, and compassionate in those moments when I need to set a limit?”

That is what I’m solving for. 🧠

It’s 100% possible to have boundaries for my kids and not enforce them with consequences.

Consequences and punishments impact relationships and have no place in a parent-child relationship. 💔 It hardens us to them and it hardens them to us. We both put up our defenses and it erodes connection, which leads to more poor choice and off-track behavior.

On the contrary setting limits and having boundaries backed by empathy and connection do the opposite. It deepens the connection, trust, and safety in the relationship. ❤️❤️

🙌 Punishments and empathy can’t coexist.

The amazing work you do with setting a limit with empathy is eroded away when we resort to controlling and punishments.

Punishing is shame-inducing.

Punishments don’t teach right and wrong.

So why do we need them?

If punishments or rewards work so well why do we have to keep using them to keep teaching our kids how to behave?

We can 100% own our mistakes with consequences. 😘

That’s what’s happening in my house now.

My kids have space to discover for themselves, what the impact of their decisions are, and I set limits along the way that serve my kiddos and keep them and others safe. 👍

Off-track behaviors don’t need punishments.

Giving them a punishment doesn’t turn them into lessons.

That’s just what society has told us, but it’s not true.

I tried it for 8 years and it was working so terribly I decided to look for another way.

I found developmental psychology, and it showed me there was another way ☀️ to be a responsible parent without thinking it had to be done by coming down hard on my kids with punishments and/or rewards.

At the time things were so bad I had nothing to lose. It didn’t feel scary to give up punishments and rewards because they weren’t creating dreamy relationships with my kiddos, or creating an amazing intrinsic motivation within them to do the ‘right’ thing.

I already felt like I was losing my ability to help my kids the way I wanted to. I wasn’t happy with the relationships I had with them.

If I hadn’t taken that leap of faith I would have lost out on an entirely new world for me and my family.

One where I get to teach and train my kids through the power of connection and empathy.

If you’re ready to try it and go all-in comment below, and I’ll tell you about ways I help moms learn how to use connection above everything else.

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Andee Martineau

Andee’s a mom of 6, reformed yeller, and the creator of Connect Method Parenting. She’s on a mission to help moms feel in control, bring the fun back into parenting, and ditch the yelling, corrections, and endless feelings of failure!

Can you imagine your kids happily listening to you, helping around the house, confiding in you, and getting along with their siblings? She’s got you covered with simple, scientifically-sound steps to do just that (that actually work. For real!)

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