I Threaten My Kids With Polygraph Tests....and other creative parenting tactics
A Little History.....
Sometimes I get the funniest reactions when I share stories with people about some of my parenting strategies. Anyone with children understands that each child is different, and each one responds to different methods of praise as well as discipline. My youngest, Andrew, is VERY stubborn, and he is by far my biggest challenge as a parent. I discipline my kids in different ways, it just depends on the severity of the crime committed, who was involved, what's worked in the past, and what hasn't. The "what hasn't" list is much bigger with Andrew than the "what has" list lol.
No matter what type of discipline I decide on for each individual incident, my goal is always the same.....for them to understand what they did wrong, why it was wrong, why they're being disciplined, and to teach them a lesson so they grow into decent human beings and Men.
Andrew stays in trouble, but for the most part it's for little things like talking to much in school. He is the class clown and has the most decorated conduct card in the whole Elementary school I'm sure. There's really only been one or two incidents where it was a more severe crime (like this stunt that landed him in ISS for a week ugh!).
Here at home, he's very hard headed when it comes to doing chores, or sometimes talking too much at the wrong times (at the table during meals). However, nothing irks me more than LYING. I can't stand it, and I try so hard to teach my kids the importance of honesty and earning trust. Granted all kids lie at some point, rather tell stories. I did when I was younger, and I'll admit, I still do as an adult. But only little white ones :) .
Why the Polygraph Threat you Ask?
Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures.....
I have many strategies, most don't work, some do. The one that works the BEST when it comes to telling lies, or when nobody wants to fess up to a criminal act in the household......is the Lie Detector Test. That's right, I threaten my kids with a polygraph test. Is that wrong? It's better than beating the truth out of them, and much more effective believe it or not. Not that I've ever beat anything out of them, except maybe a wad of gum.....but that was just because I had to swat quick before they realized that's what I was doing. Trust me, if they know it's coming, it's a wrestling match and it's just no good for anyone. My boys are big!!!
This method works the best with Andrew. Mostly because he fibs more than the others. I usually only threaten this when I KNOW that he isn't being honest, and usually it's pretty obvious because for one, I know him too well, and secondly.....he's just not as good a fibber as he thinks he is. Kind of like when he told his brother (not me) and Paw Paw about that $20 bill he "found on the ground walking home from school" the other day. When I threaten him with a lie detector test, the response I get from him is immediately telling of his innocence or guilt. He cracks so quickly, which is funny because I've never even HAD to take him to get this type of test done. I simply told them what a polygraph was, and that we could have one done at the Sheriffs Office. I wasn't lying really. Then once I get the truth out of him, we talk about why he lied, then discuss the appropriate discipline for his actions. I have an internal Lie-dar! Oh yea, it's a trait I picked up as I practiced my own fibbing technique as a youngster, and then perfected in my years of parenting.
Paw Paw....the other disciplinarian
That one guy that lives here :) works alot. So I'm pretty much like a single parent. My Dad is here nearly every day though, and I'm glad because he helps keep me sane by helping the boys with their stuff...sports, homework, playing, DISCIPLINE. Some of the types of discipline he chooses to use are things like physical labor, exercise, yard work.....boy stuff. The picture you see of the boys pushing the truck came about when they were "talking smack" and they made the statement that they could in fact push his truck uphill and it wouldn't be that hard. Well, Paw Paw is the type of person that when you say something you better be able to back it up. This really didn't count as punishment, just a funny challenge. ***Don't worry, the truck was not turned on, and he wouldn't have let them get hurt.**
"Aunt AmyThere's a Fire!!!"
I mentioned my Dad sometimes uses the physical labor strategy. The latest incident that took place here at home was about a month ago. My 2 youngest boys (11 and 10) were outside playing with their cousin...my nephew. We were sitting here minding our business in the living room, my sister and I and my niece, when my nephew came running in the house...."Aunt Amy, there's a fire....." I instantly jumped up because I already smelled the smoke.
Note: We have been in a drought here as well a a fire ban, even a water usage limit has been enforced. So you'll have to understand my haste to run out the door.....we have nothing but dead grass outside, as well as an old wooden shed in the back yard.....hmmm.
Anyway, long story short, my kids had the bright idea to burn a "spider webs nest".....that's what they said, because they didn't want a poisonous spider to eat their family or whatever. I ran out there and was able to put the fire out, which like I feared, was right in a pile of dead grass up against the old wood shed! Thank goodness it wasn't serious, nothing was burned, nobody was hurt............yet!
This had to be handled differently because to me, it was important that they understood why we were so upset, and what could have happened. It scared me to death! Therefore, it called for a jury by trial and the boys decided to represent each other :) .
The judge (my dad) and prosecutor (myself) came to an agreement for a plea bargain.....the boys had to take it, they had no choice. 100 hours each of community service and nothing but Bologna sandwiches for a week. Don't "Aaaaw that's so sad!"......they got to eat breakfast and lunch at school, and most times ran down the street to their dad's house at supper time.
So far they have picked the trash up around the football field after 2 home games, lawn work for our house and my Paw Paws, and a little old lady from church. One day we took them out on the county road leading to Paw Paws house to pick up a bunch of trash on the side of the road. I found some orange jumpsuits and black number stickers...........and well you get the idea. Hey, I needed to make sure they were seen by drivers too you know.
Segregation.....not Isolation! Slave for a Week!
A recent punishment we tried on Andrew, was to be a slave for a week. However, it didn't really last a week, just a couple of days really. Point was made though. If you read the story about this incident already (Link to it in first part of this hub) you'll understand why I chose this form of punishment. If you didn't already read it, you can read about how my son landed a week in ISS, and then you'll understand.
This one was tough for me, but I felt like this was really a way to teach him a lesson. He was made to be the house slave for everyone in the house. Cleaning, picking up after the other kids. I even segregated him for bedtime, meal time, if I'd had an outhouse I'd have banned him from the inside restroom as well. He was not allowed to sleep in his bed. He used a cot and slept in the living room. He was not allowed to eat with the rest of us, he had to eat on his own on their child size picnic table away from everyone else, and after he had made our plates.
Now you guys, I know this sounds really mean, but you have to know my child. This didn't really phase him, he thought it was a game, to prove he could do it and it wouldn't bother him. That's why it only lasted a couple of days. No harm done, I promise. I did however make him do research online with me about the slavery days and KKK, as well as even slave auctions. At the end of the week, I made him write a report over everything he learned and why it was wrong for him to do what he did.
The day he was released from ISS back into the general population, he went to the little boy he had offended, shook his hand and apologized. They were friends to begin with, and now they are "all good" again, in their words.
Let Me Hear It...
I know my ways aren't traditional, and maybe even strange, but I am not perfect. I learn every day about parenting and I try to teach them lessons in their discipline. Sometimes it's even kind of fun, and they think so too, but the point is still getting across to them, and in the end, they aren't abused or mistreated, and they know that I love them, and that my love for them is the biggest reason I discipline them. There are times I get to feeling bad, because as I said, I'm basically a single parent so to speak. Therefore I'm doing the nurturing, as well as the disciplining, which isn't fair sometimes, but I kid you not.....my kids have told me numerous times, that they prefer me punish them. Even though they may not like it sometimes, they say they know that I do it to teach them how to be better people, and they would rather have rules and get punished than to not have rules, and get away with murder. I know, I was just as shocked when I heard it.
I had always heard that kids who go undisciplined and have no boundaries set for them actually WANT rules and boundaries. I never believed it until it came from my own little creations.
What do you think about my tactics? Do you think they're cruel? How do you handle situations with your children? I'd like to hear from you guys so please share.