Shahnaz asks:

Inflicting Self Punishment

My 9 year old son has begun self punishment, when he is reprimanded. He knows he has committed an offence, then decides to punish himself by not eating his favourite food, having a cold shower,etc . Please help
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



Boys Town National Hotline
Sep 28, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Thank you for contacting!

It is very good that you are looking for help for your son at this time, before the self-punishment would go a step further to more dangerous forms of self-harm such as cutting.  You are doing the right thing by reaching out for help!

You do not mention what kind of discipline you are using with your son. It is important to teach children about the consequences of their misbehavior, rather than to focus solely on negative consequences. The word discipline means "to teach." Children need to learn from their mistakes.

Make sure you are giving your son positive feedback. Give him a chance to earn back his consequence with good behavior if possible.  It has been said that for every one negative consequence, make sure there are four positive consequences.  

There are some excellent resources which can help you with positive parenting and help your child stop punishing himself. Please check out our website: for many tips and ideas on specific behavior issues or problems.

A very useful book for parents of school aged children is "Common Sense Parenting" by Burke, Herron and Barnes. You can go to and find it and other wonderful parenting books and videos. Boys Town also offers Common Sense Parenting Classes, which may be offered through your son's school or in other locations in your community.

If you would like to speak directly with a counselor about this issue, please call or e-mail our hotline. We are available 24 hours, 7 days a week to listen and to support parents and families.

Take care and best to you and your son!
Cynthia, Crisis Counselor
Boys Town National Hotline
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