Scolding and lecturing don’t work

Posted by Samantha on October 13, 2011 in Change, Disapproval, Discipline, Punishment |

Parents deceive themselves when they think they are getting through to kids when they scold, lecture, humiliate and punish.

Jane Nelson, Riki Intner & Lynn Lott

I write as a parent who scolded, lectured, humiliated and punished despite being on the receiving end of those as a child and vowing I wouldn’t do it to my own children.

Not that I usually thought I was humiliating and punishing in the moment I was actually doing it.  But I came to see what I was doing for what it truly was.

And I admit that I was ok with scolding and lecturing at first.  I would focus on the short-term but illusory idea that I was being a responsible parent by telling my children off for mistakes or other consequences of their immaturity.

I could see that my children were tuning me out – covering their ears, getting the ‘far away’ look, or worst of all, making those noises and faces that some children make to protect themselves when an adult goes into critical lecture mode.  That particular defence of theirs infuriated me.  Not being listened to was a major trigger for me.

If we care to accurately interpret the data our children give us – fingers in the ears and so forth – we know that we aren’t getting through with these methods.

Why do we still do it?

I think it’s because it takes HUGE courage to own up (to ourselves) to our own bad behaviour, admit we want to change it, make amends to our children (and ourselves) for it, and then follow through with the sustained effort required to change it.

Changing our behaviour is possible.  It’s a process, not an overnight event.  And as I’ve said it takes courage (and faith, and trust, and blood, sweat and tears at times!).

But the rewards – not least the connection with our children we really crave – are enormous and make the journey worthwhile.

I wish you luck in your journey today.


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