Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Creative Punishments

I just read a funny article about what people's parents used to do to them as punishments when they were kids.  In our day and age, I think as a whole, we have become uncreative as parents when it comes to our misbehaving children.  Actually, we don't even tend to like the word "punishment" anymore.  We like "consequence".  To me it's basically the same thing:  This is happening to you because you were naughty. 

Time outs?  I don't get the sense that children really care that much.

Time ins?  I watched a friend physically restrain a child for a "time in" for x amount of time.  I really can't imagine putting myself through this on a daily basis.  Apparently this is the more loving approach.  The "I'm here for you and won't abandon you" approach.  I tend to believe children aren't so emotionally fragile that we can't send them to their room to have their meltdown and then come out when they're calmed down. 

And we've seen examples of public shaming.  I'm personally against that.  For example, the dad who shot his disrespectful daughter's laptop and put it on YouTube after she wrote a rant about her parents on social media.  Personally, I would have quietly taken the laptop and all other devices away from her and given them to charity or a family in desperate need, but first I would make her write a public apology.

Then there's the ineffective method of just telling your children over and over again to knock it off and/or be quiet.

When at all possible, I love it when the punishment fits the crime.  Many years ago when my grandfather and his brothers were engaging in spitting, their father made them go out and spit on a fence post until it was sopping wet.  When they felt like they were out of saliva, he told them to continue spitting.  After that, the last thing they wanted to do was spit.  This is genius and non-violent.  A lot of people from that generation have memories of going outside to pick their switch to be beaten with.

My sister recently came up with an idea that is a punishment or reward depending on the outcome.  Her 4-year-old son wouldn't stop coming out of his room at night, so she made a little bowl of candy for him and said whatever was left, he could have for breakfast, but she would eat a piece every time he came out.

I wish I had thought of such an idea years ago.  With three of my boys sharing a room, bedtime was a nightmare and the behavior continued as late as midnight - sometimes even later.  As I would try to get the house clean, I kept having to stop what I was doing, so I told them if they had so much energy, they could join me in cleaning and laundry folding until midnight.  After a followed through a couple times and they were begging to go to bed, they finally stopped the behavior. 

My teenager has been awful lately about getting up for church and some other things.  He gets up just fine for school, but on Sunday mornings, it's like the scene in What About Bob where Richard Dreyfus is yelling, "COCKADOODLEDOO, BOB!!!!"  I jump on the boy's bed, remove his blankets, shove him halfway off the bed, splash him with cold water, etc.  I finally put our one-year-old in the room with him, shut the door, and let her work her magic.  She has the most shrill, unbearable scream.  Within a minute he got out of the bed. 

My favorite ones I read today involved a dad who made his kids shared a plate, cup, and utensils for a week straight when they refused to do the dishes and the mom who used a laser pointer and a cat to wake up an overtired child.  What geniuses! 

What are some creative punishments you have given your children?  Or what did your parents do to you?

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