Negative Punishment Examples Parents Need to Avoid

What to consider when taking things away from your kids.

Originally Published: 
a child who has just experienced a negative punishment crying

Behavioral scientists use the term “punishment” narrowly to describe actions that decrease the likelihood that a specific behavior is repeated. And in that academic discipline, “negative” indicates removal. So from a parenting perspective, a negative punishment entails taking something your kids enjoy away from them to get them to discontinue a behavior. Do your kids keep bickering? You take away their screen time. Does your teenager continue to exude sass after numerous warnings? They don’t get to hang out with their friends on Friday night.

But can parents use negative punishment effectively? And if it’s part of their parenting tool kit, just how should it be used?

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