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5 things you should not do to punish your child

Better think twice before punishing your child.

Do you often spank, yell or threaten your child when he refuses to listen, misbehave and throw tantrums? And you think this works because your child starts to behave. But experts believe otherwise. While punishment is necessary to help your child learn right from wrong, crossing the line can have a deep psychological impact on your child. Read here Punishment vs reward -- how to strike the right balance.

Here are five common types of punishments parents use and why you need to curb watch your actions.

Spanking

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Unlike western cultures, spanking is not a crime in Indian parenting. But parents should know where to stop. Sometimes just using the words, ek thapad milega is enough to get your child on track. Repeated spanking is a wasted punishment and may isolate your child, informs Dr Pawan Sonar, child psychiatrist and counsellor, Riddhivinayak hospital, Mumbai.

How it can affect: The trauma one goes through due to repeated battering and spanking can lead to poor academic performance, low emotional intelligence, depression and make them anxious about life and probably a boring adult, says Dr Sonar. Want your kids to stop lying to you? Don't punish them.

What you should do: First, step back and take a deep breath. Then talk to your child. Don t shout; just explain in a soft, confident, firm voice why his behaviour is not justifiable, says Dr Sonar. If that doesn t work, try curtailing certain privileges like using the laptop, iPad or extended play time. Stop paying attention to his tantrums. If all the tried and tested methods fail, a smack might be necessary. But never use a stick, ruler or other such things to hit your child. A low-intensity smack can do the trick. But remember, a punishment like this is never complete without hugs and love at the end, explains Dr Sonar.

Yelling

This is common with most Indian mothers who often vent their frustrations. And words without meaning, when thrown at a child, lose their effect, says Dr Sonar. Yelling often indicates that the parent is unable to gain control over the child s behaviour.

How it can affect: It leads to negative self-image. Beware of using cuss words. Don t expect your child to grow sober, if you have been a bad example, warns Sonar. Here are 10 ways to know if your child is lying to you.

What you can do: Instead of yelling start a dialogue with your child. Start with, Why are you doing that? It could hurt you. Do you want to play with your blocks or paint a picture? Anything that will help to divert your child s mind and change his unusual behaviour, explains Dr Sonar. If you ever have to yell or shout do it once-a-while. Ever wondered why a father s yelling has more impact than the mother s?

Locking in a dark room

Isolating your child might seem like a simple punishment without hurting him physically. But it wrecks the child emotionally. This sets out the message that I am not loved or needed anymore, explains Dr Sonar.

How it can affect: Continuous isolation in a dark room or a bathroom can lead to suicidal tendencies in adolescence, substance abuse in rare cases, fear of taking challenges and having a negative outlook towards life.

What you should do: If you want to isolate your child, ask him to stay in a corner or try and ignore his behaviour after giving him enough warnings. If it still doesn t help stop talking for a day or two. This kind of punishment will not have an instant result, but will leave a long-lasting impact, says Dr Sonar. Here is how to understand and acknowledge your child's emotions better.

Threatening

This is both easy and lazy way of punishing. You don t want to act sensible and think of the right way to discipline your child. So, you threaten to put him in a boarding school or send him to a relative who is known for bashing up children, says Dr Sonar.

How it affects: Your poor child doesn t understand why you choose to be so hard and cruel to him. It impacts the parent-child bonding and trust in a big way.

What you should do: Stop threatening. Instead, tell your child why certain behaviours are not acceptable when living together as a family.

Comparing with others

It is so common that you hardly think twice before picking up the model kid from the neighbourhood to compare with your child, says Dr Sonar. And this makes the child feel betrayed.

How it affects: It induces a sense of rejection. Parents think comparison might motivate the child but it does the opposite. Comparison hurts a child so deeply that it only makes him see his weakness and lowers self-esteem. It also stops a child from aiming higher, says Dr Sonar.

What you should do: Stop comparisons. Instead, work on your child s shortcomings. It is more fulfilling and satisfactory.

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