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Catholic Activity: Work as Punishment



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Newland argues against assigning menial tasks as punishment for bad behavior.


There are two cardinal don'ts about children and work: don't ask children to do so much work that they miss their fair share of play; and don't ever use work as a punishment. Children, like adults, will work better between periods of rest or play, and they need a far greater portion of play than grown-ups. Cheated of play, they easily become embittered about all work; they, too, will decide that work is a curse. It is easy to avoid this abuse if it is understood that such and such is the work to be done, and done well, after which their time is free for play.

To punish a child by making him work is asking for trouble. Then work becomes synonymous with unpleasantness and resentment, and all subsequent sermons on the dignity of work are going to go in one ear and out the other.

Activity Source: We and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland, Image Books, 1961