Backward Punishment

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

I am a 2nd grade teacher in the Los Angeles area. Lately there has been a resurgence of giving children standards to write as a form of punishment.

Since we struggle to help our children reach grade level in writing, I find this way of punishing a student (making him write) rather backward. I seem to be the only teacher who feels strongly about this? What do you think?

Karen Schwarz

Dear Karen,

I'm with you. I do not believe in punishment of any kind. There have been so many research studies that demonstrate the long-range ineffectiveness of punishment -- but most of them are buried in academic journals. Alfie Kohn has done a good job of presenting them in his book "Punished by Rewards", a book that shows that punishment and rewards are not effective long-term.

The problem is that most teachers do not know what else to do. That is why we have written two books with hundreds of alternatives. Positive Discipline in the Classroom and are written to show teachers how to use kindness and firmness at the same time. All the ideas are non-punitive and are designed to teach important life skills for success. Hang in there and don't give into the crazy idea that the way to help children DO better is first to make them FEEL worse. It doesn't work for adults, so why would it work for children. My best to you,

Jane Nelsen


Online Learning

Positive Discipline offers online learning options for parents, teachers, and parent educators. Learn in the comfort of your own home and at your own pace. You have unlimited access to our online streaming programs, so you can watch and re-watch the videos as often as you like.