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Study shows which discipline technique is most effective at modifying child behavior

Research has found that punishments work better than giving rewards when disciplining children.

The study, published in the journal Cognition by psychologists at Washington University’s School of Medicine, showed that giving out punishments for wrong behavior is the more effective way in disciplining children rather than offering rewards.

In the study, researchers gave study participants either a reward or a punishment after making a choice, to figure out which of these would have a stronger effect on whether the participants would repeat their choice or not.

Results showed that the participants who were given a reward would repeat their previous choice, and that this effect grew stronger as the reward increased. On the other hand, participants who received a penalty were less likely to make the same choice again.

Researchers speculate that this is due to the negative impact of punishment already hardwired to the human brain, making it more effective at changing behavior.

“From an evolutionary perspective, people tend to avoid punishments or dangerous situations. Rewards, on the other hand, have less of a life-threatening impact,” said lead author Dr. Jan Kubanek.

Punishment may be more effective, but researchers also said that harsher punishments do not equal better results. “Our study showed that such feedback does not have to be harsh, since it appears that we tend to react in the same manner to any amount of negative feedback,” said Kubanek.

However, parenting expert Fi Star-Stone from the UK does not recommend spanking children as a way of disciplining them.

She suggested other methods that are less harmful but are as effective. “Children can easily be disciplined with gentle time-out methods, taking away privileges such as favorite toys or pocket money, and setting clear boundaries.”

Sources:
May 12, 2015. "Is Punishing A Child Really The Most Effective Discipline Technique?". yahoo.com
Undated. "Study: Punishment Is the Most Effective Discipline Technique". parenting.com
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