Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

An Object Lesson in Solutions vs Punishment

How to change or even preempt unwanted behavior without punishing anyone.

4 min readMar 3, 2024


I have kids. I understand that kids will copy me when they see me do something. If I don’t want them to cuss, I don’t cuss around them. If I don’t want them to pick their nose, I don't pick my nose around them. I make a point to model the behavior I want them to engage in.

Walking, talking, eating without blowing up the dining room table, and cleaning up when I’m done playing a game or with a construction project are just a few examples. We are born imitators.

But sometimes, there is behavior you just can't stop. Sometimes, you need something more than just not doing it in front of them. And no amount of punishment is going to stop them. So I don’t punish my kids. I think of solutions first. I talk to them first.

If I see them doing something that could hurt someone or themselves, I talk to them about it and develop workarounds so that they can solve the problem, get what they want, and not hurt anyone.

I wear glasses and a hearing aid. When my kids were toddlers, I knew that they would be curious about my reality augmentation devices. I knew they’d want to touch them, move them, experiment with them, or do things with them that could potentially…