Saturday, July 2, 2011

Punishment? What works?


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Comment: Thank you so much for that sincere response and it will definitely help my situation :)

Questioner: Sarah

Subject: punishment

Question: I'm trying to think of punishments for my daughter that will scare her but also be life changing and mean something..not that we will actually use them but if we
have to it would changed her life forever not the typical grounding or losing
things because we have done all of that but something like joining the army or
shaving her head...large , life changing situations...please help

Answer: Dear Sarah:

I can only imagine the pain you must be in to post a question like this unless this is not a serious question (sometimes I do get questions which are pure harassment rather than real questions so forgive me if this is a serious question).

I will not give your more stressful and pain inducing punishments to assist you. I will however make suggestions and recommendations which I believe will relieve your pain.


I strongly recommend family counseling. Family counseling will support you in dealing with your pain. I can only imagine how much pain would drive a parent to this point. You and your daughter must be in terrible pain.

Please do feel free to read through my past postings as they are full of recommendations and suggestions for positive reinforcement of behaviors.

First of all, punishments and negative interactions with your daughter will only produce more of the same. I am not surprised "nothing is working" and you are looking for more pain inducing ideas. Negative reinforcement is just as strong as positive reinforcement. The more negatively you engage with your daughter the more negative behavior you will get. You see you CANNOT WIN THIS WAR! She will show you no matter what that she is capable of making decisions even if they are the wrong decisions.

Secondly, what you can do to start turning this around and it won't be easy, is to find things you love about your daughter. Tell her what you love about her several times a day. Make sure it is real. It maybe hard right now however it is essential to turning this situation around.

Then find behaviors that she does which you like and let her know just as strongly as you have let her know about behaviors you did not like. She may not respond at first as she will distrust the new actions however keep it up. It is essential to be consistent. Behavior changes are slow, at first the behavior will get worse before it gets better, hang in there and keep doing it as this does work.

RESEARCH has proven it is effective and does work. RESEARCH has proven that regardless of whether we reinforce behavior negative or positively the behavior will increase! So really the choice of these outcomes with your daughter are up to you!

I am certainly glad you wrote to me before taking any of these "life altering" actions.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller