Crime & Punishment

I love the stories where someone else’s kids do something stupid. First, it makes me feel good to know my kids aren’t the only ones who get into trouble. Second, I like to hear what the parents did to address their children’s transgressions, because if my kids haven’t done it yet, there may will come a time when they do.

Case in point – in a story on the Huffington Post website, it talked about a girl whose mother found out that she had posted “alcohol-related photos” on Facebook. The story goes on to say how the mother made the girl post another pic on Facebook basically saying she can’t post on Facebook until she learns what she should and should not post (The picture alone is worth a peek). Maybe I’m a bit harsh, but I love this, and I am going to store it away in my memory bank until my kids are older.

I also know a mom whose little girl took something from a grocery store. She took her daughter to the police station and had an officer explain why stealing is wrong and how store owners and other customers get hurt by it. Um, again, I think this is awesome.

Today, when it comes to discipline, timeouts are a pretty standard form of punishment as is taking away a coveted item or activity. There are also some who believe using the word, “No” is bad for children. I tried to go to a Redbook article about disciplining your child without saying no, but there were so many ads my computer could not access it. Perhaps someone should discipline Redbook for putting up so many ads that people with slow computers can’t access their articles. No, Redbook, NO!

Contrast this to the punishment in 18th Century England where children who were caught picking pockets “would be punished by having their fingers or hands cut off.” Um…wow…in a bad way.

Now, before we get any haters jumping into this discussion and telling us all about what is wrong with parents these days and how we could benefit from some 18th Century punishments, let me say this – I have three kids, and what works for one child doesn’t always work for others. There may be kids out there who respond well to the whole “never say no” form of discipline. Mine aren’t among them. I do, however, have one child who is reduced to a puddle of guilt and tears from simply knowing she is in trouble or that she has somehow inadvertently hurt someone else. She doesn’t need timeouts – all she needs to know is that she has let you down in some way and she is utterly devastated. I also have twin boys. They delight in being in trouble. Timeouts work for them – most of the time – but they must be out of earshot and eyesight of the other. I discovered this over time.

And I think that is what parenthood is – discovering what works for your kids over time. It takes creativity and it takes being on top of what they are doing. So my hat is off to the mom in the Huffington Post story. One thing is for certain – her daughter won’t forget that lesson anytime soon.

What about you? Do you think it was a sound punishment? How do you handle discipline in your own home? Have you learned tricks you can share with the rest of us? And please don’t say it involves cutting off fingers or hands, because we draw the line at dismemberment.

Shannon Hembree is the co-founder of Mamas Against Drama. You can follow her on Twitter @Shannon1Hembree and MamasAgnstDrama.

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