Creative discipline

Sometimes I feel like a creative genius, but most of the time I feel like my children have sucked every last drop of creativity from me. They absorbed it into their tiny little bodies and now they are using it to destroy our house one mud pie at a time.

P1080995Their abundant and oft-misguided creativity combined with my lack thereof leaves me with a dilemma. I want to meet my children’s creative disobedience with equally creative discipline. I want the punishment to not just fit the crime in size and severity, but somehow be related to it! I’m talking Mrs. Piggle Wiggle caliber lessons here.

So I come to you seeking advice because, more often than I’d like, my brain turns to a puddle of mush and I turn to the old faithfuls. Time out, spanking, we’ll never ever ever do anything fun ever again. You know, those things parents say. all. the. time.

Here’s a list of some the recurring issues in this household. (In no particular order.) Fix them, please.

1. Wasting hand soap.  5 pumps for two tiny hands… Are you kidding me?! And I was SO not thrilled when I found soap in the bottom of my bathroom cup after I rinsed my mouth with it.

2. Making mud. My boys love water. They also love dirt. They also love to mix them.

3. Playing in mud. Sometimes it rains and the mud is pre-made already!!!

4. Harvesting vegetables without permission. We have a garden and I love that my kids love the garden. I do NOT love that they pick things before they are ready. That broccoli would have grown big enough to feed our whole family. Instead it was popped into a four year old’s mouth for an afternoon snack. I gave birth to giant groundhogs!

5. Wrestling/fighting/sharing the same square inch of space all the time. I have 4 year old twin boys. I have no idea how to stop this.

6. Coming out of their room 100,000,000x before bed. It’s an issue.

7. Creative use of sharp objects. We have had our couch cut with scissors, a crocheted doily and a coaster cut with a letter opener, and a fork tine poked into the couch. Our poor couch.

We have tried preventative measures (i.e. no scissors for K after the couch cutting incident) but I know my kids are bound to be in situations where temptation exists (i.e. a week later, while avoiding all scissors, K picked up my parents’ letter opener and sliced their doily apart) and I want them to know how to resist temptation and make good choices.

SO, if you are brilliant and creative and you have an idea. PLEASE SHARE IT! Comment below and share it with the world.

If you need an idea of what I mean by a creative punishment that is related to and fits the crime, here are two “success stories” pulled from the pile of my many failures.

1. Nose picking. For a few days, I wrapped tape or band-aids around the tips of K & J’s fingers so they couldn’t fit comfortably inside the nostrils anymore. J seemed to be cured after 3 days of tape. K discovered he could pick his nose just as well with his pinkie. Unfortunately, I stopped taping and a few weeks later they got stuffy noses. Boogies built up and those fingers gravitated back to the nose. So, if anyone has any ideas I guess I should add that one to the list as well.

2. Making the rest of the family wait for you. Sometimes my kids act like their body has rigor mortis, their brain is on another planet, and their seat belt (they buckle themselves) is a 60 foot long wild snake. Usually, this sort of melt down happens when they are tired and/or hungry. In the past, I have approached this issue with preventative measures (always pack food. always.), but today I decided that a four year old is allowed to feel hunger and is fully capable of waiting. I was not going to cater and excuse this type of behavior any longer. So, on the way home from the library, while everyone was waiting in the car and K was having an “I’m going to die of starvation” tantrum, I told him that we were trying to get home for lunch and because he was making everyone else wait for lunch he would have to wait for lunch: 5 minutes for the tantrum and one minute added for any addition hunger complaints on the way home. Immediate attitude change.

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7 thoughts on “Creative discipline

  1. Laura says:

    I love the hunger tantrum cure! We have the same problem in our household.

  2. Eric Clark says:

    For 1,2,3 I would recommend having them pay for the hand soap, or also maybe the laundry detergent. This money can come from gifts they get from family or any sort of small allowance you might already be giving them to help them learn to handle money. I assume with mud and that picture you put up, the main issue is their clothing, so making them buy the extra laundry detergent you have to use is definitely directly correlated discipline. You can also have them handwash the clothes themselves… but then they might be wasteful with that soap… I don’t know. For 4, he takes food from the family, the family takes food from him, a.k.a. next time a meal includes dessert, split that child’s dessert among all the members of the family who were able to resist their “groundhog” urges. For 5 and 6, no idea. In my mind, I feel like 5 should be embraced, but I have the feeling that that’s far easier said than done. And for 7, the only solution I have seems to extreme (if they cut something of yours, something of theirs gets cut, but that definitely seems like too much so I’m not really sure on 7 either). Let me know if you try any or if you come up with any other good ones. I LOVE this challenge haha.

  3. Dottie says:

    5. I had my niece and her cousin (who always fought over the same chair) play a game to compete for the chair/space/whatever. The game I used was keeping a balloon from touching the ground while sitting slightly apart in two chairs, with the rule that they had to stay in their seat. If one person accidentally stands- game over they lose. Drop the ballon – lose. Most often they forgot they were competing over a space and played quietly with the balloon, never mind the fact that they were conveniently sitting in separate chairs in order to play the game at all. You can make up your own game here, I think the idea is to refocus the underlying competition that is at work toward a more constructive competitive activity.

  4. Andrea Halstead says:

    1. I “solved” this by getting the foam soap dispenser and Pinterest telling me how to make my own. It’s soooo easy so now I don’t feel bad if they use too much because it is mostly water anyway. All I do is add a little hand soap to the bottom of the dispenser and then fill it completely with water. Turn upside down and gently shake/mix and there you have it.

  5. Mandy says:

    I don’t know why I just realized now that you have a blog–nonetheless, I’m excited about it!
    1. Switch to bar soap at the sink. Bar soap just isn’t as enticing.
    2 & 3. This issue does not bother me, so I don’t know. Some of my best memories as a kid was getting covered in mud, dirt, etc. from head to toe, so I tend to just let it happen.
    4. Could they have their own plot that they can pick from but then your plot they cannot? A little Garden of Eden lesson could be involved 🙂
    5. No idea. I have girls!
    6. Danny Silk is an author and has really great parenting methods/theories. Check out his idea on this if you haven’t tried it! You ask them if they are tired or need something to do. If they say they need something to do, they do a chore (fold laundry, sweep porch, etc.). There’s a whole method to it, which I do not know–his book is Loving Your Kids on Purpose.
    7. Yikes! I don’t know. Maybe they have to do “restitution” time or something, since money might not mean a whole lot to them now. They do age-appropriate work to “pay” to replace the item. A cut doily might cost them 30 minutes total of housework, but since they are 4, broken into 10 min segments.

    I like the hunger tantrum consequence–I might just be adding that to my creative discipline list!

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