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Punishment | Types of Punishment | Guidelines for the use of Punishment


A negative consequence that lead to a reduction in the frequency of the behavior which produced it.


A negative consequence that lead to a reduction in the frequency of the behavior which produced it.

Positive Punishment:

Adding something negative as a punishment ex. a spanking a child.

Negative Punishment:

Removing something pleases a punishment like a pay cut.

Pros and Cons of Punishment

Shortest route to changing behavior, if used effective and temporarily example, a parent may not have a second chance to warn a child not to run into a busy street, so punishing the first incident may prove wise. But punishment can be ineffective is used frequently as the recipient may develop endurance and resistance to it. The use of punishment is also reinforcing to the punisher that is seeing the result (successful) of punishment. The punishes is likely to use the methods in the future as well.


A crying child stops crying when spank again in the future and may be more hardly than the previous time.

Punishment can be humane in some conditions for example treating severe disorders like “autism” a psychological disorder in children in which they bang their head against the wall and other steps inflicting injury upon themselves punishment in the form of intense electric shock is used to prevent self injurious behavior until positive producers can be initiated.

But punishment does not convey any information about what an alternative move appropriate behavior might be.


Punishing a child for staring outside the window in a classroom may lead him to stare at the floor instead. Punishment must be accompanied by specific information about the behavior being punished and suggestions for a more desirable behavior.

Punishment can lead to production of fear in the recipient’s mind and the recipient will learn to respect adults and be disciplined but on the other side punishment can have a generalizing effect (generalized inhibiting effect) on the individual.


Repeatedly spanking a child for “talking back” to you may lead the child quit talking to you altogether.

Moreover punishment causes the recipient to think that perhaps reacting aggressively and inflicting pain is the appropriate behavior.

The recipient of punishment may start to dislike the punisher and might develop tolerance of the punishment thus reacting aggressively to the punisher and if that is not possible for him, than to any other person, thus punishment may solve one problem but lead to another.

Some people are reinforced by the attention they receive due to punishment and thus continue to exhibit the same behavior.


Parents / teachers see a behavior they don’t like and criticize the child. The child might be reinforced by the attention he received and the criticize behavior increase in frequency.

Thus, more criticism more behavior upward spiraling course punished behavior is suppressed, not forgotten.

In short, reinforcing desired behavior is more appropriate technique for modifying behavior than using punishment.

Guidelines for the use of Punishment

Do not use physical punishment instead use negative punishment positively reinforce the appropriate behavior after punishment make clear what is being punished, punish specific behavior not people, stop punishments with rewards, for the same behavior.


Do not punish a child for fighting and then hug and kiss the child apologetically, once you have began to punish, do not back down, do not be bloom away by pleading and begging.

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