Creative Object Lessons in Parenting
Not all discipline with children needs to be consequential or if it is consequential, needs to be of the ‘time out’ type; object lessons can be used. In addition, these can be done with some degree of lightness and humor. When the object lessons are consequential, they lean toward ‘natural consequence’, meaning that the response that you give as their parent is a model of what they might expect from someone outside of their family. Some of the object lessons below may at first seem ‘over the top’ or downright mean, but they are not really: they are a dose of reality for the child who has been either overindulged for some time, or has come to take for granted the privileges that they have.
Wet towels on the bathroom floor: Pick them up, place them on the child’s pillow; wait for them to go to bed.
Lights left on: Turn off circuit breaker to child’s room for 24 hours.
Dirty bathroom: Get the cheapest, roughest toilet paper possible for the children’s bathroom. If you share the bathroom, have your own soft roll that you take with you.
Misfires in the bathroom, or sinks and tubs left dirty (no one admits to it): Sign in and sign out of bathroom, with frequent adult checks in between.
‘Mom, there are no towels!: Color coded towels, each child has their own color.
Socks or underwear on the floor: Pick them up, launder them, and make the child either pay (money) or a chore to get them back…very interesting when they truly run out of underwear!
Long showers: http://www.showermanager.com/
Dirty, encrusted dishes in the sink: Place these between the sheets on the child’s bed, if the problem persists, purchase a Boy Scout ‘mess kit’ with silverware and etch their name on the parts, and have the child use only that mess kit, and wash it (or not) themselves.
Candy wrappers or soda cans left around: “Forget” to buy these when you grocery shop for a few weeks.
Complaining about what’s for dinner: The person who complains makes the next dinner.
Greedy-eats-up all of the goodies: Next two or three week’s ‘goodies’ are fresh veggies and fruits. (Parents find a good hiding place in your room for your goodies.)
‘Who’s toy arguments: Sharpie initials on each child’s toys.
Toys left in community areas: If not picked up by bedtime, place these in ‘parent’s toy box’: the child must do a chore or pay $ to get the toy out of ‘impound’…or it stays there a week.
Can’t get to bed on time, or get up in the morning on time: Take the time violation, double it, and then that is how much earlier bedtime is the next night.
Cereal boxes left open, or milk left out: buy plain oatmeal and powdered milk for the next few weeks.
Chores not done: When preparing dinner, do not set a place for the child; you could even not prepare food for the child, if they are old enough to ‘scrounge’ something up for themselves. Do not announce this, just do it; when they ask why, simply state their chore was not done.
Consistent bad language or poor attitude, or disrespect: Stop doing their laundry, stop giving rides, and stop bringing goodies into the house until you get an apology and the behavior improves.
Shoes left in community areas: Tie laces together, toss them into the basement, garage, or attic. feign ignorance when the child asks if you have seen them.
Surprise need for help on an assignment the night before it is due: Negotiate: since the child has inconvenienced you, they should do a big chore for you…clean the garage, wash your car, rake leaves….
Repeated question or begging: Have the child get a pencil and piece of paper, write down your answer, fold up the paper and put in their pocket. The next time they ask, tell them to read the note.
Messy bedroom: Method one: go into the room with a rake and trash bag, rake all the mess to the center, and then put it all in trash bags. Method two: toss non messy trash (boxes, cartons, etc.) into the child’s room: since their room is a trash heap, just add to it!