DOES STANDING IN THE CORNER HELP?
BY DAVID REYNOLDS
Question: If I put my son in the corner for punishment; when he is naughty, does it do any good?
This is a good question but let me reject and substitute one word before we go on. We, as parents, are not in the punishing business. Our responsibility is to discipline–there is a difference. Discipline is not punishment. The techniques used may be very similar but the difference is in our attitude which will show itself in the way it is accepted by the child.
Back to the questions: Does setting a child in the corner bring about any positive results?
In this case, this is a consequence you have chosen for an infraction of one of your household rules. Sitting a child in the comer or any other “time-out” procedures, are effective under the -following conditions.
Any consequence is effective if the child knows he has it coming due to the face that he has ‘chosen’ to break the rules. It is effective if it is reasonable, humane, and consistent. The emphases is placed upon the word consistent because this is where most parents fall down.
1. No consequence should be a surprise to the child. “Fathers provoke not your children to anger lest they be discouraged” (Ephesians 6.3, Colossians 3.21). One of the ways we anger and discourage our children is by imposing consequences thought up after infractions (this makes it punishment). It does no good if all it does is stir up anger and bitterness.
I remember the story of a little boy; when sitting in the comer saying to his parents, “I might be sitting on the outside but I’m still standing on the inside!”
If there is anger on the part of the child it is usually a reaction to the parents anger when imposing the penalty.
2.No consequence should be cruel, inhumane, or overly harsh. Fifteen minutes for a small child or thirty for a larger child is not harsh-two hours is. Putting them in a closet or in a dark room-is cruel. The results comes not from the harshness but from the fact that there was a consequence and that it was imposed just as the parent said it would be. All parents need to learn to talk and yell less and act more.
3. We need to learn the power there is in consistency. Consequences do not have to increase in harshness or severity over time. If the consequences seemed right for the first infraction it may still be right for the tenth (unless there is open defiance there is-the child has just chosen a spanking on top of the consequence).
It is at the point of consistency that most parents fall down. If a ‘consequence does not seem to be working after a week or two we feel it will never work and we come up with a new one thus confusing the child. Don’t change the consequence–hang with it! It will work if you do your part and impose it faithfully and prayerfully every time!
The above article was published in Apostolic Accent, ca. 1992 p. 10
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