Posts Tagged ‘punishment’

I think one of those moments when parents earn their stripes is when they have to choose between punishing their child for a screw up or allowing the experience of the screw up serve as the punishment. Take, for example, my daughter in fifth grade who let a monthly book report assignment go until the night before it was due and then stayed up past 2 a.m. last night to finish it.  Should she be punished for procrastinating or is going to school on five and a half hours of sleep punishment enough?

A few weeks ago, my eight year old got himself into a similar bind and I told him to go to bed and suffer the consequences of turning in unfinished homework.  But last night when my daughter found herself in the exact same situation, I called my wife (who works nights) asked her not to say anything when she comes home and sees her daughter sitting in her room working way past bed time. I am playing a double-standard but I had my reasons:

I wanted to see how she would handle the pickle she put herself in; would she leave the assignment undone in order to get some sleep and take the worse grade, or would she stay up super-late, do good work and get the higher grade but go to school bleary-eyed and sleepy the next night? I wasn’t sure which way it would go. Neither my wife nor I yelled at her or said anything. We gave her the space to do whatever she was going to do without her parents input.

Here’s what happened: (more…)


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I have four kids aged 2 to 11, three of them are at their prime “play date” years, and the two older ones have their own cellphones (which means they can organize their own play dates and only need to secure parental approval at the final step).  As a result, we have hordes of kids over almost every day.  In fact, we should replace our front door with a revolving door and a click counter to keep track of the foot traffic going in and out.  Occasionally either my child or one of their friends gets a nutty idea in their head and something boneheaded happens. That is just kids being kids.  My daughter once complained to me after a birthday party that her friends trashed her bedroom.  Another time, one of my kids’ friends ate nine popsicles during a sleepover.  This is an inevitability.  So what to do?

I think there is only one way to handle it: that is, hold your children responsible for the actions of their friends.

On the scale of parenting maneuvers, this particular move carries a high level of difficulty. We all know it is hard enough to get kids to clean up after themselves.  Getting them to clean up after their friends is even more difficult.  But the most difficult of all is teaching your kids to control their friends so that messes never materialize in the first place.  As hard as it might be for parents to teach this lesson, it is infinitely harder for kids to implement it.  I was a kid a mere three decades ago, and I still remember how difficult it is to say to your friends, “That is a dumb idea so let’s not do it.” (more…)

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Let’s talk about disciplining children. I see many parents come up short in this arena.  This is the toughest part of parenting, and the stakes are very high.  Learning how to discipline your child is crucial to your happiness as a parent and to your child’s own well being.  Parents should think this one through, trust their instincts, know their child, and like a good baseball umpire calling balls and strikes – strive for consistency.  The long-term goal is to get to a point where where you won’t need to use discipline to maintain discipline(more…)

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