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How can I help my child accept punishment without self-loathing?

Hal Runkel
Hal Runkel on behalf of ScreamFree
Marriage & Family Therapy
If your child talks about not liking him- or herself when in trouble, calmly ask why. You might find out that this is how he or she defines disappointment. This isn’t a bad thing, just an ill-defined word. Simply help your child apply it correctly. The same applies when he or she utters, “I’m stupid,” or “You don’t like me.” Get curious, and ask more questions.

When my kids began to do this, my initial response was to pounce on it right away and “fix” the situation. This seemed to only invite the same response in them the next time, like a moth to a flame. I was making a big deal about it and it drew them right back to it. My next strategy was to totally ignore it, which sort of violated my integrity, and it left me feeling like I was running away from the problem. The solution -- I believe -- is more of a hybrid of the two; staying calm and connected with the issue, while seeking to coach them through it.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.