2 February 2024

Ihe “job” of parenting is a complex mission, in perpetual construction. According to Martin Hoffman, of the University of New York, the parent of a child aged 2 to 10 would be confronted, each year, with no less than 15,000 situations where he would try to make his child comply. Parents very often ask themselves, and rightly so, the question of knowing which educational practices would be most favorable to the development of the child, to the reduction of difficulties in regulating behavior and to peaceful family relations.

Educational methods based mainly on repressive strategies, including frequent punishment, turn out – as we know today – to be ineffective, even counterproductive, because, in addition to increasing the child’s anxiety and to aggravate his behavior problems, they do not teach him good behavior (for example, showing the child how to ask for the object, rather than punishing him for taking it from his hands). The use of punishment is also associated with a lesser development of the child’s moral reasoning, which itself contributes to altruistic behavior, as indicated by the synthesis of research by Martin Pinquart and Anton Fischer (from Philipps University Marburg, Germany).

These results question the relevance of the dissemination of methods based on old coercive educational principles. For example, in the book titled Go to your room! Provide educational boundaries for your children (InterEditions, 2020), Caroline Goldman recommends punishing young children, from the age of 12 months, after having explained to them the prohibition, by “excluding him in his room (or any isolated room) where (the parent) will leave him crying behind the door”and of “start again as soon as the child transgresses”recommending to the parent the application of this “repressive system”. He must not “don’t hesitate to leave the child, over 4 years old, half an hour or more in his room”. And, if the child tries to go out, the parent must prolong the isolation: “You just got twenty more minutes in your room. »

Precise rules

The author advises using her method in the face of “transgressions” as “to talk too much” “to make too much noise” “moan for nothing”, “throw the potties from the high chair” ; so many behaviors that are considered normal in young children because of their immaturity. In an article published in the journal The Psy Notebook, she says: “The solution, in my opinion, can be summed up in two words: ‘time out’. (…) This method is recommended (…) by the teacher (Alan) Kazdin. » However, the latter openly expresses his disagreement with what she describes: “It goes against everything we know from research on the subject” (“Papatriarchy” podcast, episode 101).

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