Differences between punishment and consequence for children

Punishment is not the same as consequence. Given the fault that the child has committed, we must ask ourselves if we really want him to learn that what he has done is not right. If the answer is yes, then we must stop punishing and choose to take responsibility for their mistake or carelessness by actually facing the consequence of their actions.

Punishments have been applied throughout life with more or less intensity and we can say that without very good results. Parents continue to complain that their children continue to act in the same way, and rather than realizing that what they are doing is not right, what they end up looking for is an alternative to punishment, that is, if we leave them without leaving, they will end up chatting with his friends, or if we take away the TV he will listen to music. And what is more dangerous, we can end up in a constant challenge with our son in which he will most likely come to think “I don’t care, whatever you do you won’t get me to care.” And the truth, this does not seem very educational to say. So we may need to change strategy when children do not meet established standards that we have previously agreed upon.

After all, punishment is a simple sanction without educational consequence and what we want is for the child to consciously correct his action.

It is not easy to always get it right, in fact it is very difficult. Being responsible parents is a daily challenge in which help is always welcome, so we will try to explain the principles of consequences to be as clear as possible what to take into account when our children do not respect what has already been agreed at the same time we want them to take responsibility.


  1. It is essential to have defined the rules to follow and make sure that all members of the house know them: schedules, obligations and rights of each one. If possible we will have them in writing for everyone to see, at least the most important.
  1. The consequences must be related to the offense committed . If the child loses respect for someone, we can have them say something nice about their friends or family as an exercise, while we talk about the importance of respect for others and how important it is to be positive with other people, instead of by For example, leaving it without leaving, which bears no relation to what was committed.
  1. They must be immediate : you didn’t pick up your room today, you don’t go out to play today until you pick it up. It is not valid tomorrow or the day after.
  1. The size of the fault must be taken into account and the consequence applied according to the severity. It is not the same to wet the bathroom (here the easiest thing would be for him to clean it himself) than to break the remote control for playing games (the consequence could be to buy a new one with his pay).
  1. You have to be firm and not get carried away by the mood. If a fault is committed, the consequence is assumed. We must think that he is being formed as a person consistent with his actions. If the child, for example, does not carry dirty clothes to the basket, those clothes are not washed. We wash, but your obligation is to take yours to the basket and this should be clear to you. So it is not ideal that sometimes we wash the clothes that he has not left us to wash, unless there is a justified exception, of course.
  1. And, above all, once the consequences are applied, the subject is not discussed again . Once the lesson is learned, the lack is forgotten.

This way of acting is more relaxed than punishment and makes the child mature, we avoid conflicts and “pulses” of power, which is what is usually reached by punishing. As we always say, these are guidelines, each family is different and as parents you have the instinct and love to know what is best to educate your child.

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