You've been punishing your child all wrong.

We hear you, pulling out the consequences, the naughty corner, the ‘no ice-cream for you’s. It’s exhausting, right? Meet the expert who thinks we’re wasting our time.

When mother and clinical psychologist Dr Shefali Tsabary talks, the mindful mothers of New York listen. And what she says, is that the worst thing a parent can do when their child misbehaves is punish them.

Already, I can you hear you thinking, “Well what am I supposed to do when they are out of control and hitting their sister?”

Dr Shefali says naughty children need attention, not punishment. She claims modern parents are failing their children by not being present enough and it’s no wonder kids are increasingly naughty, bullying others and shouting to be heard.

Misbehaviour is simply a cry for attention.

“When a child’s own voice has either been neglected or bullied into silence, the child can no longer respond to this voice, which is how they lose touch with the natural empathy,” she told The Australian Women’s Weekly.

So what does she say to mums who claim, “My child is out of control?” She basically says that if your child is naughty, it’s not their fault, it’s your fault.

Dr Tsabary says children need attention, not punishment

Dr Tsabury has written a book called Out Of Control: Why Disciplining Your Child Doesn't Work. The launch attracted Wendy Deng, Deborra Lee Furness and Ivanka Trump, all there to hear Dr Tsabury say modern parents are forgetting to pay enough attention to their child, and she doesn't mean feeding them or washing their clothes.

She means sitting with them, asking them how they are, how their day has been, questioning them about their thoughts and feelings, just being with them, without distractions.

Does she have a point?

She believes discipline and punishment lead to negative long-term consequences for everyone and can be blamed for the epidemic of bullying.


No rules, no punishment.

One of the questions Dr Tsabary is peppered (badgered) with at her talks is, how are modern, working parents meant to pay all this attention to their kids? One mum said, "But this feels like just another thing I need to do".

And a question we'd like to add: Why is this mostly a women's problem?

Dr Tsabary agrees. "It is unfair that we talk about the working woman and not the working man," she told Women's Weekly. "But there is a price the kids pay and there is a price the parents pay, because what could be more rewarding than engaging with your child?"

She says if children are neglected by their parents, they are going to find a way to make up for it. "They're going to have to compensate for it some other way, on the weekends or when they come home, there will be a price to pay because children do need us."

When children won't do anything without being threatened or bribed, often misbehave and seem out of control, Dr Tsabary says to try the following:

* Take their hand and ask, "How was your day?";

* Sit with them in the kitchen while they eat their meals, including breakfast;

* Listen when your child talks. Never silence them;

* Don't punish them for bad behaviour. Talk to them instead;

* Support their emotions. Their psyche is underdeveloped and they need us.

Dr Shefali Tsabary has a PhD in clinical psychology and is the author of Why Disciplining Your Child Doesn't Work and The Connected Child. Find out more at or follow Dr Shefali on Facebook.

 Do you think punishing your child causes more harm than good?