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What's the Best Punishment For Kids?

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What do you do when your kids misbehave? A poll by the self-proclaimed “World’s Strictest Parents” on Country Music Television’s new reality show suggests that 80% of parents – or at least 80% of parents who visit  the “World’s Strictest Parents”  website – favor punishing misbehavior in children by removing privileges.

The poll comes on the heels of new research indicating that a “tough love” approach to parenting serves children best. The “tough love” study found that kids benefited from hands-on parents who set and enforce limits. It did not say anything about particular discipline methods parents should use.This new poll, conducted by the TV show “World’s Strictest Parents” on their website, comes to the not-at-all scientific conclusion that most parents prefer to punish teens by taking away privileges when they misbehave or are “lazy”. The other poll options were “yelling” and “giving more chores”.

It’s probably a good sign that “spanking” or “hitting” did not even appear in the multiple choice list. Sadly, it rated a whole segment on the Today show last week. In case you haven’t gotten the memo yet: don’t hit your kids. An increasing body of evidence shows that corporal punishment not only hurts kids, it doesn’t work.

Some parents might opt for “none of the above” in managing their kids behavior. Alfie Kohn, author of Unconditional Parenting, advocates skipping all punishment and reward in favor of what he calls “love reason”. This approach puts time outs and revoked privileges on the back burner in favor of communication and fair choices.

Most of us start out here, but when the happy, loving methods don’t work (say, around the time your kid turns two) we almost all resort to at least a little yelling.

Even the World’s Strictest Parents think that’s a bad idea: only 3% of them voted for it as the best way to manage kid’s behavior.

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