12 Reasons Why Imposed Punishments are Poor Discipline

  1. In the classroom, punishment as discipline is too often used for those who don’t need it. These students will respond without punitive action.
  2. Imposing punishment moves ownership from the student to the teacher.
  3. Imposing punishment is teacher-dependent. The threat of punishment may coerce a student to act appropriately in one class but have no effect on the way the student interacts with others outside of that class.
  4. By the time students have reached the secondary level, some have been lectured to, yelled at, sent out of the classroom, kept after school, referred to the office, suspended in school, suspended from school, and referred to Saturday school so often that these students simply no longer care.
  5. Behavior may temporarily change at the threat of punishment—but not the way the student wants to behave.
  6. Imposed punishment is temporary and transitory. Using fear and force as discipline only produce changes in the short run. Once the imposed punishment is over, the student has “served the time” and is “free and clear” from further responsibility.
  7. Imposed punishment is based on avoidance—a negative response. It stirs feelings of fear, anger, resistance, and/or defiance.
  8. Imposed punishment in the classroom arouses resentment and invariably diminishes student motivation to learn what the teacher desires.
  9. Imposed punishment, by its very nature, is counterproductive to good teaching because it fails to foster responsibility, cooperation, or positive motivation.
  10. The use of imposed punishments in the classroom automatically creates an adversarial relationship between the teacher and the student.
  11. This adversarial relationship oftentimes results in the student’s testing of the teacher to see how much the student can get away with.
  12. Some young people test the limits of acceptability. Sometimes the use of authority is necessary. However, authority can be used without being punitive.


Ultimately, eliciting a consequence is a far more effective discipline approach than imposing a punishment.