Punishments aren’t supposed to be fun. They’re suppose to deter bad behavior. That’s why kids get grounded or sent to their room. That’s why we take away their toys or iPad privileges. It’s supposed to send a message: Listen or you lose out.
Randall Stutman is probably one of the most influential coaches you’ve never heard of. Basically every Wall Street bank and hedge fund of any significance has hired him as an advisor at one point or another. A lot of the CEOs and executives ask him about parenting. He has one piece of advice relating to consequences for bad behavior: Punishment should make them better.
It’s pretty fitting advice coming from a coach too. Think about it: A basketball coach who is disappointed in someone’s effort, makes them go do sprints, or pushups. It’s not fun and it makes the kid stronger. A football player who didn’t make their GPA has to go to extra study sessions. An athlete who gets in trouble off the court might have to do community service or write an apology letter. These are more than simple deterrents. They’re punishments that make them better both as players and as people.
When you get upset, when you catch your kid doing something they’re not supposed to do, Dad, make sure that you don’t punish out of emotion or out of fear. Take a minute. Come up with a punishment that makes them better. Something they wouldn’t choose to do, but is good for them. Vocab drills. Memorizing state capitals. Volunteering somewhere. Picking up trash. Painting the house.
They won’t like it, but one day, they may actually thank you for it.