Punishment is a big pain in the butt. Punishment, in scientific terms, is a word that describes a consequence that suppresses, reduces the frequency, or stops a behaviour from occurring again in the future. It is future behaviour that determines if a consequence is punishing. Does the behavior stop happening or reduce the frequency of occurring as a result of a consequence? Yes – then the consequence has been punishing. No – then the consequence may have been aversive but it was not punishing.
Based on the definition of punishment, here is why we think it is a huge pain in the butt.
- Punishment must be repeated frequently to remind the learner to avoid their mistake and you have to be there to punish every single occurrence.
- Punishment doesn’t teach the learner anything.
- Learners with little confidence will wither.
- With punishment, you can’t control what the learner learns.
- Punishment can damage the relationship between punisher and the learner.
- Punishment can accelerate aggression by suppressing all warning signs. For example, it can teach a dog to forgo looking away, moving away or growling and teach the dog to go right for the bite.
Punishment is actually a whole lot of work and has so much potential for going sideways.
Fortunately, Kindred Connection offers you an alternative; it’s called reinforcement of behaviours. Combining management of the environment with reinforcement of good choices always equals a healthy, happy learner who is willing to work with you out of choice.
The best part? There is no negative fall-out from using reinforcement to teach your happy learner. Oh, and did we mention it is way more fun for you, too?