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Punishment in Classrooms with Young Learners

Punishment in Classrooms with Young Learners | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Discipline issues are common in every class. Nonetheless due to their curious nature, active imagination, and short attention span it might sometimes feel as if children- in particular, enjoy misbehaving in a class. Thus, some cultures as well as some individual teachers promote punishing any problematic behavior. However, in my personal opinion punishment is not an appropriate action to teach discipline in a classroom or even its general meaning. In this essay, I am going to present four major drawbacks of punishing children in a teaching-learning environment.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Shoshrin S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.


First of all punishing, a child damages the rapport of the teacher in front of their pupil. When a child is punished, they might stop seeing the teacher as someone who is there to help them. Instead, they may think that a teacher is someone who is there to harm or humiliate them. Therefore punishing a child due to their behaviors or errors may lead them towards being mistrustful of educators rather than reaching out to them to learn and improve themselves.

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Emotional Downsides

A child who lacks confidence and trust in educators may additionally end up becoming discouraged about the entire teaching-learning process for a long period in their life. When a child is punished in a place that is supposed to teach them valuable skills, the learning process might become equated with humiliation or harm. Thus the joy that children find in learning about new things can get lost, which might in turn lead a child to want to separate themselves from the process of learning all together in its entirety.

Additionally, if we were to promote the practice of punishing children with troublesome attitudes, then we might risk singling out one or a few students while other students who perform well in class are praised. Such behavior from the teacher or an institute such as a school can potentially instill a doubtful approach towards friends and classmates in a child. Such a restrained approach towards one’s cooperative circle will lead them away from teamwork and cooperation. Hence, we might risk pushing a child away from improvement through cooperation and learning with peers, even if our initial intent for using punishment might have been to push the child to improve themselves and their academic performance.

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Other Issues

Furthermore, when a child faces severe punishment or is punished a lot they may not only distance themselves from teachers, schools, and friends but also from their own family too. Such a draw towards isolation can harm a child psychologically as well. A child might become depressed, show resentment towards people around them, display violent behaviors in an attempt to avert punishment by reflecting the act of punishment itself, and so on. Such psychological troubles can be harmful to the child for the rest of their life and not just to their immediate academic performance. Thereby damaging any potential they had to contribute to society and the world as a whole.

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To conclude, I believe that there will be times in a teacher’s career, where punishment might seem to be a viable option for them to use as a tool to teach discipline, yet in many cases, punishment may cause further problems than solving the problem at hand. People generally do not perceive punishment positively, and it is especially so in the case of children, thus punishment is more likely to discourage a child than encourage them. Therefore, in my opinion, it is not advisable for teachers to punish a child in any case and they should not even think about it if they are teaching a mixed-age class. There are other options available to teachers to enforce discipline and correct erroneous behaviors other than punishment, so they should stay as far from it as possible.

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