Rewards and punishments are different ways to handle discipline in various life situations. Whether you are on the giving or receiving end of the discipline, understanding how to distinguish between the two can be helpful toward making good decisions. Rewards are generally more positive and used to reinforce good behavior, while punishments are used to discontinue negative behavior. Both are thought to be effective methods of discipline, depending on the situation with which you are confronted.
Learn about the different types of punishments in order to better understand what they are. Punishments can be verbal or physical. Verbal punishments include yelling, speaking negatively and criticizing. Physical punishments include spanking, hitting and slapping. Withholding rewards is another type of punishment. Withholding rewards means not giving a reward that was previously promised, such as not giving a child dessert because he behaved badly. Another method of punishment is creating penalties for behavior. Examples of penalties are time-outs, losing an allowance or being grounded.
Understand rewards by looking at how positive behaviors are treated. Rewards include such things as money, treats, gifts and spending time with people or at places that are enjoyable. If an individual receives something that makes her happy for good behavior, she is likely receiving a reward.
If a consequence is occurring for negative behavior, it is a punishment. Punishments can be created by people or can be naturally occurring as a result of an action, such as being hungry after missing dinner. If a consequence occurs for a positive behavior, it is a reward, such as receiving an A on a test after studying hard. Getting a good grade is a natural reward for the positive behavior of studying.