Stop Punishing Your Kid’s Good Behaviour

Stop Punishing Your Kid’s Good Behaviour
Photo: Pexels

Sometimes, I come across parenting advice that makes me uncomfortable, and that’s because I feel exposed. This happened when I read a Tumblr post by an author who goes by Olofa. The title: “Do not punish the behaviour you want to see.”

I am not snarky with my 6-year-old, but there have certainly been times I’ve been frustrated she’s not doing the thing she’s supposed to do.

Brush her teeth, comb her hair, pick up the board game pieces she laid out across the living room floor.

When, after what feels like way too many reminders, she gets herself moving, I might say an exasperated “thank you.” How does that empower her? It doesn’t.

We shouldn’t overpraise kids, but offering them genuine gratitude for doing their part usually propels them to take on more responsibility. Not because they feel shamed into doing so, but because they feel appreciated and important.

Yes, it’s hard. If your kid has protested bedtime for the past 17 nights, you’re probably over the whole process. But then on the 18th night, if they happen crawl under the covers without a fight, you have to let the past slip away. Acknowledge the achievement and move forward.

The littlest steps count.


  • I’m confused by this article.
    Why would I punish the behaviour I want to see?
    I feel like there’s some extra context I’m missing. Was this tumblr post in response to something more specific that provides extra context?

    • Ah, I see now. The Tumblr post is cut off in the article and I had to actually go searching for it to see the full context.

      Do not punish the behaviour you want to see
      I mean, it seems pretty obvious when you put it like that, right?

      But how many families, when an introvert sibling or child makes an effort to socialize, snarkily say, “So, you’ve decided to join us”?

      Or when someone does something they’ve had trouble doing, say, “Why can’t you do that all the time?” (Happened to me, too often.)

      Or any sentence containing the word “finally”.

      If someone makes a step, a small step, in a direction you want to encourage, encourage it. Don’t complain about how it’s not enough. Don’t bring up previous stuff. Encourage it.

      Because I swear to fucking god there is nothing more soul-killing, more motivation-crushing, than struggling to succeed and finding out that success and failure are both punished.

      When your child eventually does the thing you want them to, don’t snark at them because that comes off as a punishment for doing the thing rather than a reward.

      Also confusing, in the article it says “But then on the 18th night, if they happen crawl under the covers without a fight, you have to let the past slip away.” But that’s not the point of the tumblr post at all. The point is: on the 18th night, if they’re still protesting and fighting going to bed, when they eventually get there, don’t “reward” them with snarky crap like “it’s about goddamn time”, actually praise the behaviour in a genuine manner if you want night 19 to go a bit better.

  • The issue with today’s world is that kids are made to be too sensitive and entitled and parents are expected to praise the kid for every instance of good behaviour. The police doesn’t follow me, pull me over and give me a pat on the back when I don’t run anyone over. But they surely will pull me over and arrest me if I do.

    The same way, I don’t think it is necessary to constantly praise your kids for good behaviour, but it is essential that bad behaviour is punished by taking away some privilege. When your kids are being good, treat them occasionally with ice-cream or chocolate or something inexpensive that they like.

  • Would it be wrong to say raising a young kid is just like training a dog? I think it changes at some point when/if you want them to think for themselves and make their own decisions/judement but it seems to me raising a young kid is actually conditioning training to a large extent.

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