Define punishment and discuss why psychologists advise parents not to use punishment in disciplining their children.
Ans: Punishment is the opposite of reinforcement. Reinforcement increases the likelihood that a behavior will be repeated, and punishment decreases that likelihood. Punishment involves the introduction of an aversive stimulus, as when a teenager receives a speeding ticket, or the removal of a stimulus that is rewarding, as when a teenager loses driving privileges because he received a speeding ticket. Psychologists advise parents to use mostly reinforcement, and to avoid the use of punishment for disciplining their children, for several reasons. First, punishment does not model the correct behavior. Children who are punished learn what not to do but are not taught what they should do. Second, punishment can have undesirable consequences. It often creates fear of or hostility toward the punisher. Those negative feelings can also generalize so that a child might fear or become hostile toward any authority figures. Third, punishment can lead to abuse. Because a parent is reinforced when the bad behavior stops after a spanking, that parent may resort to more frequent and more severe spankings, and hence to physical abuse. Abused children are angry, but because they fear the abuser, they look for someone weaker on whom to take out their aggression. Finally, punishment models inappropriate behavior, teaching a child that this is an acceptable way to resolve interpersonal conflicts.