Punishment VS Non-reward?


Well-Known Member
Could someone please tell me the difference? Our mornings are just terrible, so first thing this morning I told difficult child if he could act respectful, then we could go to the pool this afternoon. If he couldn't show respect, then we will sit home again this afternoon and he could find another way to entertain himself. Guess what the out come was? I told him this lack of respect is the VERY reason he's going to social development summer school. Truly, I'm not punishing him as much as showing him it's inappropriate to talk to an adult the way he does. I refuse to reward him for it. BUT, is he perceiving it as punishment or lack of a reward? How can I get through to him?


New Member
I know my daughter never saw a difference between punishment and lack of reward. If she was looking forward to do something and it didn't happent, it was a punishment plain and simple. It was actually a worse punishment than an immediate timeout or chore because of the anticipation of going and then the disappointment of not going.

If he's going to school for this type of behavior is it possible he truly doesn't understand how disrespectful and rude he is being? Is there a way to work it that if you do a signal of some sort to let him know he needs to stop his tone and/or words because they are being disrespectful? Then, if he corrects himself or at least stops, consider the disrespect never happened? Just an idea.

In our house, my difficult children are given so many hours of REWARD time per day. They lose 15 minutes of REWARD time for each inappropriate thing they do. For example, if difficult child 2 swears at me, he loses 15 minutes of REWARD time. If difficult children refuse to do one of their chores, or refuse to do it properly, they lose 15 minutes of REWARD time.

Each difficult child has a laminated copy of what they need to do to EARN REWARD time. The sheet also explains the consequences for inappropriate behavior and what actions are deemed to be inappropriate. A full-blown "tantrum", complete with swearing, hitting, throwing, breaking things, etc. is grounds for loss of REWARD for the remainder of the day.

We keep a daily chart on our refrigerator. Every time one of the difficult children does something inappropriate, a check mark is put under his name. The check marks are added up at each meal. difficult children always know exactly how much REWARD time they have.

I HATE having to live this way!!! However, unfortunately, my difficult children do not care about anyone or anything except for their own wants and needs. difficult children's therapist actually told me that trying to explain anything to difficult child 1 in more than 5 - 6 words is useless!!! He said the shorter the explanations, the better. Also, difficult child 1 LOVES CONFLICT!!! As a result, trying to talk to him is useless!!! He actually smiles and sometimes even laughs out loud when you try to have a heart - to - heart talk with him. He enjoys it if he thinks I'm upset!!!

difficult child 2 is so socially immature, that a heart - to - heart is also usless with him. All he cares about, is what is in it for him. He truly is totally self-centered!!!

So, for now, daily schedules and Reward Charts are a way of life. We even have to have schedules when on vacation. Living like this is HELL!!! Enough about my difficult children - Back to your question!!!

I guess removing some of difficult children's Reward time is actually a punishment. In our house, we just call it a negative consequence resulting from inappropriate behavior. Also, I try to use natural consequences whenever possible. These seem to work the best because difficult children know that they caused the results themselves.

I wish I had a better answer for you. I hope others come along with better responses. Unfortunately, in order to be able to live in the same house with my difficult children, I have to dangle a carrot over their heads at all times.

Sending cyber hugs and hoping the rest of today goes better for you... :flower: WFEN :flower: :flower:

timer lady

Queen of Hearts

The tweedles never saw the difference between loss of reward & consequences. In fact, that loss of reward was their consequence for a choice made.

It's a long slow road for many of our difficult children to connect the dots.

Here's hoping for a quiet day for you & difficult child.


Well-Known Member
Thanks Timer, Meowbunny and WFEN. I guess I might try a CHART, again. Immature is the perfect description for my difficult child. He thinks calling me a "retard" is cute. Slamming doors, picking on the Yorkies, and blood-curdling screams for nothing (no tellin' what the neighbors think) are the height of his morning. Immediate consequences don't even work. Besides, it's hard to give very immediate consequences when he's headed out the door to summer school. Yes, I'll try that chart, again. The thing about a chart is that at the time, he couldn't give a flip how many check marks are on it and who cares when the marks have used up all the "reward" time, then there's NO deterrent and he can have a free-for-all. MAN, these children are difficult!!!!!!



I'm asking this very seriously: Do you know why he speaks and acts disreptfully? If you read The Explosive Child and Treating the Explosive Child, Ross Greene says that the child's difficulties are not due to a deficit in motivation but rather to a deficit in cognitive skills. Once the parent can pinpoint the specific cognitive skills that need to be trained, the child's behavior can be understood and improve. Neither lack of reward nor punishment will help your son learn the skills he needs to behave respectfully.


Well-Known Member
smallworld, how can his cognitive skills be lacking with me and not with others? THIS is the part I don't understand.


Well-Known Member
Looking back at our experiences with M, I hate to say it but I just don't know that there is any right answer. The right answer is the one that works, and very little seemed to work for any length of time with M.

The one thing I do know about him was that he was always much more concerned about what other people thought of him than what we thought. I mean, there was a time he didn't give a rip about anyone. But as he got older and valued the idea of having friends, he was better about acceptable behavior for them. I wish I had some words of wisdom for you, but I guess I don't...