Monday, July 23, 2012

Let The Punishment Fit The Crime Discipline Approach

One of my favorite quotes from the original Parent Trap movie is when the camp director says, "Let the punishment fit the crime."

A few years ago I came across the book Love and Logic by Foster Cline.  The school that David was attending used this approach to their discipline policy so I figured I should read the book and know what it was all about.

I found the approach refreshing and creative.  I call it the "let the punishment fit the crime" discipline approach.  As I first started out with this approach to discipline, I had to really think about appropriate consequential discipline.  What should I do when my child hits someone?  Breaks something?  Knocks down their sibling's block tower?

As time has gone on, it has become a lot more natural to come up with interesting punishments.  For example--last week one of my children (and I'm not going to name names to protect the guilty) thought it would be fun to urinate all over the toilet just because.  I, being in a hurry, did not even think to look before going to the bathroom after said child until it was too late.  Said child earned the privilege of cleaning both toilets in the house every day for a week.  My toilets have never been so clean.  I'll almost be sorry when the week is up.

A few months ago a different child thought it would look like snow if they shredded a large piece of styrofoam all over their room.  ALL over their room.  And the time before that when they wanted to play bead fight and threw a large box of tiny beads all over their room.  I made them pick every single piece of styrofoam and every single bead up without any help.  Despite the tears and crying and insisting that it was too much work.

Or the time when another child squeezed their sibling's squishy frog so hard that the gel came spurting out.  I made them use their own money to replace it.

For regular offences, we have a set consequence that is easy to enforce.  Hubby came up with this policy about six months ago and it has proven to be effective over time:

If you physically hurt someone, you run the stairs your age.  So David would run up and down the stairs eight times.  If you verbally attack someone or wreck their stuff (knock over their block tower, etc), you run the stairs half your age--if you're in an odd year, you run it the larger number so Lizzy runs the stairs four times now that she's seven.  After you are done running the stairs, you have to go to the person offended and ask for forgiveness and if appropriate, make restitution.  If you knocked over their block tower, you have to build it back up for them, etc.

When my children do something out of the norm, I don't immediately discipline them when I can't think of something that fits as a natural consequence.  I wait and sometimes discuss what should be done with Hubby first.

When something new crops up that becomes an habitual problem, I talk with Hubby to come up with a consequence together that we can both enforce.  Our current issue is sassing back.  The first few times it's happened, I've immediately corrected my children, explained that their speech was disrespectful and had them ask for forgiveness.  It has apparently not been enough because it's happening more regularly.  Just this morning after being sassed at, I told Hubby that we needed to discuss it tonight and come up with a policy.  Since then I've had to correct two of my children, so we definitely need to come up with a good consequential discipline that will be both effective and easily enforceable.  I'm sure inspiration will strike and we'll come up with something great and imaginative.

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