Quote of the Day: Punishment vs. Setting a Good Example?

So – my question is, what do you find works better?  Punishment, or simply setting a good example for your kids?

Quote taken from an article entitled The Analytical Mind which is in the supplement pack included in the Dianetics Professional Course Lectures by L. Ron Hubbard.

The quote:

“A parent may believe that a child learns to use a napkin, knife and fork merely because he is told that if he doesn’t use them properly, he will be spanked.  By test, this inhibits the natural learning, putting an artificial command under the natural ability to mimic.  The common result of this is to cause the child to revolt.  If the child is permitted to observe, without coaching or coaxing, adults eating with knives and forks and using napkins, the child, unless badly aberrated, will, by test, struggle and fumble to mimic.  And it will come up at last with manners, better manners than those forced upon it, providing the parents themselves know how to use table silver and napkins properly.”  — L. Ron Hubbard

Personally, I’ve always found that clean, effective communication and setting a good example go much further toward getting kids to have good manners, than any level of punishment.  Of course, it’s rough when you’ve got two kids of similar ages – as the kids will start to look to each other for an example to set (i.e.,  “My little brother got away with playing with food, why can’t I?”) but for the most part – mimicry works wonders.

I can’t tell you the number of times that we’ve been struggling with getting kids to sit at the table and eat, and then my wife & I look at each other, and we’re flying around doing EVERYTHING ELSE besides also sitting & eating.

But, for me, where I’ve seen this most is in simple human interactions – asking to use things, asking if one can have some snack food, cleaning up one’s room, etc.   If my wife & I set a good example, the kids seem to follow along.

6 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: Punishment vs. Setting a Good Example?

  1. wow, love this! i don’t think i’ve seen this quote before, thank you for posting. i actually have a work-in-progress blog post very related to this idea and this quote might just fit right in. oh, and to answer your question, setting a good example (obviously!)! i love using good manners in my interactions with my kids and then seeing them act likewise. it is very gratifying, and wonderful knowing that they’re acting that way because it makes sense to them to do so, not b/c of an external pressure like threatened punishment.

  2. love it!!!
    As a parent, I can definitely say that both the kids and I are much happier when I work out how to handle things without punishment! I hate it… they hate it… definitely tells you something doesn’t it? We get along better in the family when we apply such data as in this quote.
    I do want to remind people that there is a specific way of handling punishment when it is necessary, such as for badly aberrated children, which can be found in the lecture “Educational Dianetics” in the Research & Discovery Volume 4. It’s good to know that data.

  3. As a daughter, I can say that I always I copied the example of my parents and it was good for me…I think the tendency of human beings is always reproduce what he sees, has everything to do with the environment in which he lives.
    We are mirrors of our fathers,and challenge for a child, I believe that is reach places that our parents did not come, go further, be better. And yes … I believe there is nothing better than the example!!!

  4. Wow! very informative 🙂 I have one example of the punishment that some people use: blackmailing the child that the parent would leave so the child will be forced to do as the parent pleases or orders him to..and a lot more diff types of punishment…Really setting a good example is very important..thats why I just cognited upon reading this that I and my wife should really be at least aware and cautious that whatever our child sees and observes, she will mimic. Wow, very good data! 🙂 Thanks

  5. Ouch. I tin kids learn best from example. When I see my girl doing something wrong and then realize I made the same mistake, I ask her if we can work on it together. It is wrong to tell a child to be one way and then to do the opposite.

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