Monday, March 22, 2021

Helping our patients to differentiate punishment from consequences


With parenting support and counseling, we often have to remind parents about the difference between a punishment versus a consequence.

This is important for the workplace as well, especially for those in management or leadership positions.

A punishment is emotive. Usually, it’s done with judgement, frustration, reactivity, or anger.

A consequence on the other hand, is often more emotionally neutral or compassionate, and less judgemental.

A punishment is more “zoomed in” and fused.

A consequence is usually more “zoomed out” and more detached in nature, or compassionate.

Why is this important?

When a punishment is perceived by the the child who is on the receiving end, it impacts on their connection/attachment with us. It may give them a message that the connection is “conditional” upon that certain expectation is met.

With “consequences” as the “optics”, it’s saying this has nothing to do with our relationship. I love you no matter what. At the same time, these are the consequences to what we have done. That is life. But no matter what happens, I still love you no matter what.

Not easy of course, especially when our needs are not met, and we are stressed due to life’s craziness. Parenting is truly the toughest job in the world. We make mistakes. We learn. We grow.

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