Overcome the fear of punishment

Overcome the fear of punishment

By Jean Ricot Dormeus

When I attended Kindergarten and primary school, my teachers used corporal punishment as a way to foster learning and retention. Then studies showed that the fear of punishment stifled the learning process and contributed to a culture of mistrust and violence. With much pressure from civil society and foreign influence, the education system ended up banning corporal punishment. Instead, teachers are requested to inspire, encourage and build their students’ self esteem. 

Punishment or scolding often works like laundry blue. Well applied, a modicum of it can improve the appearance of white fabrics. Any amount beyond that will dye the clothes blue. Therefore, parsimony is the name of the game, as far as punishment is concerned.

Usually, punishment comes as a feedback for an undesirable behavior or result. Given the fear, pain, and negativity attached to it, just the idea of a stick is enough to effect the desired result. However, a carrot or the anticipation of a reward often works miracles while nurturing a conducive environment for peace and harmony.

According to The Harvard Business Review, Neuroscience suggests that when it comes to motivating action (for example, getting people to work longer hours or producing star reports), rewards may be more effective than punishments. And the inverse is true when trying to deter people from acting, as punishment or anger inhibits action, sometimes causing us to freeze altogether.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.”When we find ourselves at the receiving end, let’s keep calm and overcome the fear of punishment by taking it as an opportunity to improve. When we feel inclined towards the dispensing end, let’s use love, respect, and rewards to inspire and elevate people in our circle of influence for lasting results and continuing progress.


Jean Ricot Dormeus



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“To concede defeat when you are entrusted with a mission amounts to jeopardizing the utility and quality of the rest of your life. Is it worth it?”

Jean Ricot Dormeus, Land of Dormant Dreams – A Walk into the Future, p. 61