I don’t usually listen to podcasts (they’re uncomfortable to take notes on), but today I did. I started up Isaac Morehouse’s podcast episode entitled “Revolutionary Parenting” this morning just to hear what “revolutionary parenting” actually was. I was planning to Google whatever came up in the first 10 minutes of the discussion, turn off the podcast, and then keep reading what Google gave me. But I was completely entranced after a couple minutes of listening to Kevin Geary and Isaac bounce back and forth parenting philosophies that toss traditional ideas of punishment out the window.
“Parenting without punishment and reward” wasn’t a new concept for me when I started listening to this podcast episode. I meet a lot of educators and psychologists that practice NVC (nonviolent communication) and advocate primarily the use of empathy in child rearing instead of rewards and punishments. But the idea (and reality!) of not punishing your kids never gets stale for me. It’s incredible to consider what society would be like if we raised a generation of kids without punishing or shaming them for misbehaviors and so-called “bad choices.”
Why do we even punish kids?
According to conventional wisdom, when a kid does something wrong or bad, he needs to be punished. He didn’t do his homework? Grounded. He hit his sister? Grounded. He knocked over the china while playing ball? Grounded (or shamed with an unnecessarily brutal or accusatory talk). Maybe he’s spanked. Maybe he’s sent to bed without supper. Somehow, in some way, he’s punished.
We rationalize punishment by saying that all actions have consequences. We see ourselves, adults, as the judges of morality, good choices, and good behaviors. We uphold the law. If we don’t teach that actions have consequences, our kids will never learn that, right?