Overall, my daughters are good girls. However, they occasionally make mistakes. This is especially true of my oldest daughter, who is one of the brightest kids in her class but seems to get in trouble more than she should. And, as a way of helping her to understand it can’t happen again, she does get punished.
Originally, we stuck with the basics, such as making her spend the day in her room or not allowing her to watch TV for a week. However, we found those punishments didn’t always serve as deterrents and, when she started having repeat offenses, we decided to be a bit more creative. Now, when she gets in trouble, she is required to write a 500-word essay. And, for three very important reasons, this has become our favorite form of punishment for her.
First, it forces her to think about what she did. The essays are always very specific. For example, when she got in trouble for not keeping her hands to herself, the essay had to explain why she was wrong, how she thought it made other people feel and how she would feel if it were happening to her. Making her actually think about what she did by making her put it into words has reduced the number of repeat offenses (which would add an extra 100 words explaining why she didn’t learn her lesson the first time).
Second, it gives her some control over the length of her punishment. Part of the essay requirement is she is not allowed to watch TV, play video games or spend the night at her grandparents until she writes the essay, proofreads it and the final version is presented to us (we usually make her read it to us). This gives her the ability to have her punishment shortened by a day or two simply by working harder. It also forces her to manage her time a little bit since she still has to do her regular homework.
Last, it helps her with her writing. My daughter is actually already a decent writer. But, practice never hurt anyone. And, I do like the fact she is able to improve a necessary skill in addition to serving out a punishment for a mistake or two I’m sure we made when we were her age too.
Since making this change, our daughter hasn’t been getting in trouble nearly as much. And, we have a written log of the things she has done so she can understand just how far she’s grown. I highly recommend this to any parent that is looking for a way to help their kids learn from their mistakes.