(Paul Hanaoka/unsplash)

When I grew up in the 70s and 80s, punishments were easy. It was either no TV or umm well...no TV. Phones were attached to the wall back then and were usually in the center of the home so in my case, not used that much. When I was a teenager, I used to stretch the phone cord all the way to my bedroom and close the door on it. This kind of worked, until my father came home and yanked on it while screaming at me. So up until twelve years old, the television was really the only true currency my parents had to use against us.

 (Sven Scheuermeier/unsplash) 

If I missed a homework...No TV. I yelled at my mother...No TV. I didn't clean my room...well you get the idea. This punishment was exceptionally painful because I grew up in a beautifully, eclectically, internationally furnished tiny apartment in NYC. My parents loved watching TV together at night. It was bad enough when I was told I couldn't even enter the living room because inappropriate shows were on. I mean just to be fair, it was 10:00 PM and "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" was just not proper viewing for a child. So being punished during the times I was actually able to watch it was even more terrible. 

But now, we have different tactics. My children grew up without television, so I didn't have that to use. But I did use the form of punishment known as "Time Out." I always thought it would be much more productive if this came with a soundproof booth. Because unfortunately, at least in my daughter's case, a Time Out usually came with a screaming and crying rant that lasted as long as her sentence. And at that point, who are we really kidding... it's everyone's sentence. Just to note, when she got older she was so quiet I actually forgot she was in Time Out. Suddenly I would hear, "Mommy! Did you forget about me? I'm still in the corner..."

One day I saw a Dr. Phil episode where he suggested emptying their bedroom of everything but their bed and immediate clothing and having them earn it back. I couldn't imagine either child doing anything to warrant this extreme punishment. That is, until the Auck. The "Auck' is what we called the pacifier. I was told if I didn't get rid of it by three years old, her teeth would turn out like buck teeth and they would be harmed forever. (How can baby teeth be harmed forever?) But I believed this. So in the middle of the night, the most incredible thing happened. These "Auck" fairies flew in and took them all away and left fairy presents instead.

 (Les Anderson/unsplash)

During the day, this played out like a fairy tale...and then night came. There was no peace, she couldn't calm herself, she wanted her "Auck." Night after night I stayed up with her in my arms to calm her. I read everything, I did everything. After a week of no sleep, my husband reminded me he was leaving the next day for a business trip. It couldn't be worse timing. I had to get tough.

That night alone, the getting out of bed reached a new high. We were on the fourth hour. I started removing things for punishment and putting them in my room. ("There goes the piggy bank!") Soon enough, my bedroom looked like FAO Swartz and nothing changed! Darn that Dr. Phil! I was at my wit's end. I locked myself in my room and gave myself a Mommy Time out. I then called up the Princess I hired who was coming to her birthday party and told her loudly through the closed door that I was so sorry but I was going to have to cancel. The party would go on but I couldn't reward her by having her favorite Princess celebrate with her.

Soon I heard tiny footsteps through the door and then my daughter's voice, "Mommy! I'm so sorry. please give me another chance." I hung up with the Princess and opened the door. This unorthodox punishment of taking away a reward truly affected her. She went right to sleep. What I quickly learned was that it's okay to think outside of the box.

 (She got her Princess!)

Now, for my son who is now a teen, I use his one allowed late night. For my daughter, I use her phone. And sometimes I use the sink or swim as a family unit. If someone messes up, then we all lose Family Game Night. 

What do you use for punishments? What are your kid's currencies? Have you ever used something out of the box? Please share it here.


Adele D’Man
About The Author

Contributing Writer



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