Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The Doomsday Punishment
I am reluctant to give any kind of parenting advice. What works on one kid might not work on another. I believe in using what works. But I have one tip I readily share: The key to discipline is to have a creative punishment that your kid fears so much that they never risk it being used.
We have one such punishment in our family.
It all began when Whitney was in junior high. She wanted to go to a dance at the school and she used the fact that parents of two of her friends at the time were going to be chaperons as a selling point. I probably would have let her go anyway, but knowing the parents who were chaperoning the dance was a comfort. We told her she could go.
I joked that I could chaperone as well. Of course, I had no intention of doing so. In fact I can think of very few things I want to do LESS than chaperoning a gym full of hormonally charged 7th & 8th graders. But it was quickly evident from Whitney's reaction that she did not KNOW I was kidding. Her reaction was a mix of horror and consternation. So naturally, I teased her about it some more.
Somewhere in the middle of the teasing it dawned on me that I had stumbled on a perfect "doomsday" punishment:
Should Whitney ever really mess up, she knows that I will volunteer to chaperon a school dance. I will wear a bright fluorescent orange T shirt that says "Whitney's Dad" so the whole school knows who my kid is. Best of all, I will get out in the middle of the floor and dance.......with lots of flamboyance creativity. Oh, and did I mention I also plan to sing along with the songs while I am dancing? I imagine I will be quite the sensation in that bright orange T Shirt with my daughter's name on it. I bet it would be the talk of the school for weeks to come!
So far, the "doomsday punishment" has never been implemented....but it is comforting to know it is there if we need it. The driving and dating years are about to begin. I will keep you posted.