Feet

Pain Does Not Teach

This is the sixth installment of an eight-part series.


We’ve got this notion that people — kids, especially — need to suffer a little bit when they do something wrong, so that next time, they’ll think, “Last time I suffered. I don’t think I’ll do that again.”

There’s a problem, though. When you inflict emotional or physical pain on someone, they don’t think, “Next time I’ll behave differently.” Instead, the takeaway is, “That person hurt me!”

Pain shuts people down, and feeling bad is disempowering. It doesn’t make you want to try to do better. In order for a person to make a change, they have to believe it’s possible and worth it. Pain doesn’t deliver either message. Sure, a person can find it within themselves to change in the face of pain, but it’s harder than it has to be.

The easiest way for a person to learn something new is for them to be open and emotionally engaged. Pain flies in the face of that by closing off the doors emotionally and making a person want to hide or fight back. It also undermines the trust that you share with your kid.

So leave pain out of the parenting toolbox. It doesn’t teach. There are better, easier ways to enforce your boundaries, which don’t make you feel you’ve betrayed your child’s trust in that unpleasant moment.

(To be continued next week.)