Friday, January 2, 2009

Off the hook in 2009

I must be a softy. Son and niece had been on punishment since mid-November. The deal was that they would have it gradually reduced if they consistently did their chores and followed household rules without reminder.
Well, it did not work as I planned. They did earn back their TV privileges and access to satellite, but no bikes and permission to leave the yard.

As a gift for the new year, I have postponed their "sentences" indefinitely. The punishment was sustained so long, it became a way of life. It wasn't punishment anymore.

Now I trying to think of a new approach to encourage these young'uns to want to follow rules and behave responsibly.

Any suggestions?


  1. Sister GP,

    Not knowing the ages of your "young'uns" makes it difficult to suggest an approach, but I agree that suspending their "sentences" was prudent. The bible talks about "where your heart is...", so perhaps finding out what's meaningful and of value to them would help. Perhaps you'll discover how to direct their behavior in a manner which gives them incentive to change rather than, using punishment which may only reinforce their current behavior.

    I firmly believe we all needs boundaries that establish accountability and responsibility for our behavior. I also recognize that behavioral changes are the result of a willingness to change, based on my view that what I'm doing is wrong. Too often we condition ourselves to avoid punishment for our actions rather than having a understanding of what I gain from being responsible.

    Continue to dialog with them until they reveal the key that unlocks their behavior.

    Let me just say, that I have much admiration for you and your husband; parenting is not a piece of cake. The influence you have with your son and niece will be with them for the rest of their lives. The fact that you continue to search for a method of reaching them, desmostrates your genuine love for them.

    Whatever you decide to do, I know it will be in their best interests; I wish you continued success in your parenting journey.


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  3. I don't think that there ever is a perfect answer. What I have found is that we all respond to "punishment" in different ways. Yet instead of the word punishment, how about reinforcers? Some respond better to positive reinforcement and some negative reinforcement.

    For a stubborn, hard head like me, I will respondbetter to the positive whereas if you throw negative reinforcement at me I will more than likely dig my heels in further.

    Hopefully this gives you some ideas.

  4. If you figure that out you could make a lot of money. Parenting is a learning experience. It varies depending upon the child. Carrot as well as stick approaches work at the appropriate time.

  5. Glad I'm done parenting. And also wish I could do it over again. I was an oldest child and was the most severely punished of the 4 brothers. I swore I'd never do that when I was a parent, but it DID happen. Our oldest child STILL carries resentment at the way we had so much more compassion and skillful ways of dealing with the errant behaviors of her younger siblings. You have to remember that you too, as an adult new at parenting, are growing up with your kids.

    Without knowing the specifics of the crimes or the ages of those involved, I can only say generically, that in EVERY case, never exact punishment out of spur of the moment rage or reaction. Take time. Put the kid on a room lock-down time-out, perhaps, then breath deep, meditate and pray, think back to all the stupid (bleep) YOU did at their age, and then come to a reasonable punishment for them.

    Once you have committed, however, you must stay the course. If a child knows you do not "mean what you say," it will test the boundaries relentlessly to prove you are not committed and can be broken down. The key is in in being compassionate, lucid and without emotion in the original judgment and exactment of the punishment. Easier said than done, and usually takes a decade or two to perfect.

    Also, whenever possible, laud the "good" in a child - reinforce good behavior. Wait not until the bad shows up and then pounce on it. Kids crave attention from their parents. If they realize they get attention thru bad behavior, even though it means punishment, they will persist in their errant ways in order to get your attention.

  6. I agree with varying the punishment for each person. In fact my mother used to make my brother catch hell if I didn't do my job. That way my brother would beat me up because my not doing work resulted in his continued punishment. This way my mother didn't have to discipline me because my brother did because he was tired of being on punishment. Divide and Conquer!

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Thank you for all for your comments.

    I'll post my reply as a follow-up post.


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