Loading ...

Kids Who Do Not Respond to Punishment

By Kay Ireland ; Updated September 26, 2017
Time outs might not work for a child who is desensitized to their power.

While some children respond well to punishment, there are others who are completely unfazed by a time out or a removal of privileges. In fact, your little one might actually welcome the quiet time rather than dreading the punishment. While it might be frustrating, kids who don't respond to typical punishments if they've misbehaved might need a new approach to discipline. Retool your parenting arsenal and you can swap ineffective punishment for effective discipline methods that actually work.

Loading ...

Incentivize Good Behavior

A 2012 study by researchers at the University of Sydney found that children who seemed unemotional and unaffected by punishment actually responded very well to incentives and praise for good behavior. Rather than focusing on your child's inappropriate behavior, switch your attention to his good behavior. By giving him praise and physical affection when he's kind, listens well or shares, you help him see the benefits of proper behavior. By switching your tactics, you can use positive reinforcement as a way to curb negative behavior.

Allow Natural Consequences

Many disciplinary methods involve isolating your child -- making him take a time out or sending him to his room. Unfortunately, if your child can't see the direct link between his behavior and undesirable outcomes, those traditional types of punishment might not be effective. Instead, try allowing natural consequences to affect your little one. If he doesn't eat at dinner, you could send him to his room -- but you could also explain that you will only put dinner on the table once and if he doesn't eat it, he'll go hungry. When he understands that his actions can cause an outcome that affects him personally and negatively, he might be more apt to listen up and act appropriately.

Offer Choices

Your little one is smart -- he knows that defying your punishments can break you down. By being impassive when you levy your punishment, he takes control over the situation. If control is what he wants, control is what he gets when you give him choices for discipline. When your child misbehaves, come up with two equal forms of logical punishment and let him choose which one he "wants." This puts him in control of his own discipline and can make it more meaningful.

Focus on Prevention

Even if your child seems a bit unruly, there are no "bad" kids. Usually, misbehavior can be linked to your child's emotions, whether it's fatigue, fear, embarrassment, or something else he's feeling. If you know that your little one gets cranky in the early afternoon, don't plan activities that are likely to cause tantrums at that time. Or, if you know that your child acts out around a certain kid, arrange for a play date with someone else. You know your child best -- plan around his moods and know when he's reached his limit so you can prevent poor behavior.

Loading ...

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

Loading ...