Crime and Punishment

I believe that the punishment should fit the crime- especially when parenting.

Sometimes consequences are a no brainer.  Like when I found the ABCs written in ball point pen on the dash of my car.

It made sense to have the culprit “clean” it off.  She couldn’t get the pen off, but I hopefully had her scrub long enough to learn not to do it again.  (I actually had to work at this for quite sometime.  Hairspray eventually did the trick.)

But other times finding the punishment to fit the crime is not so cut and dry.  Like this morning…

Croft chose to dink around all morning rather than do her chores.  It was time for us to leave for the library and she wasn’t done.  Now the general rule at our house is “do what you gotta do, so you can do what you wanna do”.   We get chores done first, and then we play.

I was in a dilemma.  I didn’t want to punish the other kids who did get their chores done.  They still deserved to go to the library.  And I couldn’t leave her home to finish her chores because she is only four.  My first thought was to try to find a babysitter to stay home with her and help her get her chores done.  But I couldn’t find a babysitter so last minute (and staying home one on one with a babysitter actually might have been more of a reward.)  So in the end I took her to the library with us, but she couldn’t check out any books or do the story time craft.  She cried and cried and tried many tactics to get to check out books.  I don’t know if this was the best punishment or if I did the right thing, but I felt like it was consistent with the rules I have been emphasizing all summer.

When we got home she came in promptly and finished all her chores because the next activity was a swim play date with cousins and she didn’t want to miss that too.  I feel like she learned a lesson, but I guess we will see how tomorrow’s chores go.

I wish there were some parenting hot line we could call to find the perfect consequence for each action.  Until then we just have to do our best and be creative and be consistent.  I would love to hear some of your crime and punishment dilemmas and/or solutions.

6 thoughts on “Crime and Punishment”

  1. I’m a huge proponent of NOT punishing the whole group for one member’s actions. I’m so glad your other three got to do what they earned while the “offender” learned about responsibility. Kudos–in my humble opinion (which is likely worthless since you don’t even know me) I think you picked the perfect consequence. BTW, I love your blog—it was recommended to me by people you DO know (but I’ll respect privacy and not blurt their names out here)

    1. Colleen, your opinion is not worthless. I’m glad someone is reading the blog. And sometimes I am totally confident in my parenting and then other times I wonder if I did the right thing. It is nice to get feedback from other parents. Thanks for your comments.

  2. I believe it was the right thing all the way. But HOLY COW I can’t believe she wrote on your dashboard!!! I think I would have freaked.

  3. tiff,
    as be a a kid still i can somewhat remeber the times i got punished and when you get older i think you apperciate the punishments. its weird to say, because i still have to get repramanded at times. but it helps build a better character. so i think if you do fair punishments that fit the crime or just a fair punshiments it will help your children in the end. just like my parents are helping me. its what you guys are suppost to do it says so (kinda) in the proclamation of the family (sorry for spelling errors).

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