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Punishment is described as an attempt at eliminating or decreasing the occurrence of undesirable or inappropriate behaviors in future. There are various types of punishments, both positive and negative ones. The administration of punishment mostly depends on the magnitude of inappropriate behavior. Although this is a convenient way of correcting and shaping behavior, studies have shown that there are better and more effective ways of curbing undesirable behaviors, other than punishment. This essay seeks to highlight the various alternatives of punishment and discuss why punishment may not be the only and best mean of diminishing inappropriate behaviors.

Why Punishment is an Ineffective Way of Curbing Undesirable Behavior

The concept of punishment has been in existence for a really long time. The traditional means of punishment, for example beatings and hard labor, are mostly considered extreme and ineffective ways of attempts to change the behavior. Although psychologists have new ways of administering punishment, in my opinion, punishment lacks the qualities of a  behavior changing mechanism.

Firstly, the use of punishment is a short-term mean of instilling discipline. For eample, those parents that resolve to punish their children, as soon as they misbehave, are only trying to eliminate the bad behavior without actually dealing with the roots of the problem. Therefore, in the end, the misbehavior problem is not effectively solved.

Secondly, punishment instills fear, guilt, shame and mistrust between the person with the authority and the punished one. Studies have shown that instances of punishments create a long lasting gap that has adverse consequences. Furthermore, punishment does not provide a meaningful lesson why someone should change his or her behavior. For instance, many people avoid misbehaving because they do not want to be punished and not because they understand the value of good behavior (Brown, 2012).

Alternatives of Punishment as Means of Behavior Change        

There are various means of instilling discipline and seeing the positive behaviors of individuals. People should adopt ways that instill values, such as a sense of trust, responsibility, and respect without using physical force. People with authority such as parents, teachers and employers should focus on preventing misbehavior, rather than punishing it. One of the most effective ways is dialogue. Communication opens up doors of exxpressing a person’s needs and understanding the cause of the misbehavior. This provides a better platform of behavior change, since one’s personal needs are addressed (Caldwell, 2011).

Another effective way of changing behavior is the creation of a friendly environment of trust and acceptance. This is effective because a person will not feel intimidated or unwanted and will easily accept the criticism. In addition, it is important to make your expectations clear and understood. This creates a level of acceptable and non acceptable behavior and the possible consequences. Moreover, one can use positive activities as a way of instilling discipline. These positive activities should be a learning experience that aims at shaping a person in the right way.


In conclusion, punishing a person is not an effective mechanism of behavior change. Punishment is only a short lasting solution. There are alternative ways of correcting someone’s mistakes. Proper communication channels, dialogue and creation of a friendly environment are some of the ways that can be used to change undesirable behaviors in both adults and children. Unlike punishment, the alternative ways should meet and understand a person’s needs, hence providing a long lasting solution to the problems.



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