I have been told that I am a strict parent, demanding my children to respect adults, inflicting laborious consequences for poor choices, and often taking away privileges for lengthy periods of time.
You can imagine my surprise last Tuesday when my 11-year-old son and 9-year-old son walked through the door after school ready to pummel one another. As I was attempting to douse the inferno of anger growing between them, my oldest son told his brother that he needed to shut his… well… it wasn’t his mouth.
I’m not listening! I’m not listening!
Behind him adorning the wall were multiple pictures of the boys in their younger days with sweet smiles, their arms over each other, and an angelic countenance between them. I looked at my preteen son wondering how my sweet son became someone who could speak such vile words to his sibling.
I enlisted the help of my friend, Julee Samuli, a mother of two boys, to help me understand why my current discipline methods were not working. I asked her how she kept the peace in her household. Her answer was simply “creative discipline”.
The example she gave was that her sons were making faces at one another one day and complaining about it to her. Fed up, she put one son on either side of her sliding glass door, each with cleaning supplies.
“If you guys want to make faces at each other that is perfectly fine with me, but you’re going to be constructive while you’re doing it,” she said.
Five minutes later she not only had a clean window, but both boys were laughing at each other through the glass while continuing to contort their faces humorously at each other.
I thought this was a brilliant resolution to my boys’ behavioral problems and decided to include the children in a “rules and consequences” discussion over dinner. The only limitation they had was the punishment had to fit the crime committed. The following list is what my children came up with.
RULES & CONSEEQUENCES:
1. General Fighting – The two offenders will sit on the couch for 5 minutes holding hands.
2. Spitting – The offender will be required to spit 20 times in the sink without a drink to help them.
3. Slamming Doors – The offender’s door will be removed for one week.
4. Watching Programs or Movies Not Approved By Parents – The offender will sit and watch 3 hours of Barney, Telletubbies or Thomas the Train videos on Saturday morning.
5. Speaking Unkindly to Parents or Siblings – the offender will write a 100-word essay titled “Why I Love (insert name of the victim of the unkind words)”.
6. Cursing-potty mouth equals potty chores. The offender will clean both toilets with a toothbrush.
7. Leaving Dirty Clothes, Socks, Etc., Out – the offender will clean one load of laundry for every article mom picks up.
8. Refusing to Eat What Is Cooked – the following evening the family will eat In & Out Burger while the offender eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
9. Stomping off When Told to Do a Chore – Offender will climb dad’s work ladder for one minute for every stomp heard.
10. Passing Gas at the Kitchen Table – The offender gets to eat dinner in the bathroom with the door closed.
11. Arguing With Mom and Dad About Consequences – The offender’s consequence is doubled.
While there are a few of the above rules that may need to be reworked (I’m not sure how sanitary it is to eat in the bathroom), I was pleasantly surprised how creative the boys were with developing their own list of consequences. Not only that, our family dinner ended in a roar of laughter at all the ideas that were offered.
As for my son’s cursing incident, I am happy to say that both of the toilets in my house are sparkling. Not only that, this mommy was able to sit down with a cup of coffee while blissfully enjoying a week off of toilet cleaning duty in a household dominated by boys.
Our guest blogger mom Wendy blogs at Three Sons and a Lady.