Crazy consequences

Sometimes parents have to dole out consequences to deal with misbehavior. But doing so while also nurturing the relationship can be challenging.  Recently I came across some humorous consequences on a blog called Madsen’s Memories and decided to make a list of my own, using some of her ideas and some of my own.  The object of the list is to make the kids groan and grin all at the same time– to know they’ve gotten a consequence, but to be laughing enough that the connection will still be nurtured.  Obviously different stuff will tickle the funny bone of different kids, but here are some ideas that I think have potential.

For fighting with a sibling or being unkind to them:

  • Clean a window with the sibling, one on each side
  • Tell your sibling 3 things you love about them
  • Bake cookies with your sibling
  • Do a job for your sibling
  • Vacuum a room with an ankle tied to a sibling’s ankle (3-legged race-style)

For not cleaning up after yourself or doing a chore badly:

  • Do 25 jumping jacks while singing, “I am a cleaning machine.”
  • Make your bed blindfolded.
  • While hopping on one foot, wipe down all the kitchen appliances.
  • Clean a bathroom toilet while singing Happy Little Working Song.

For arguing or being rude to mom:

  • Tell mom 3 things you love about her
  • Give mom 3 kisses on alternating cheeks
  • Give mom a pedicure
  • Play “Mother, May I?” with mom for 5 minutes
  • Rub mom’s feet for 5 minutes
  • Say “Yes, my beautiful mother” for the next hour anytime mom asks you to do something

I would LOVE to hear playful ideas that other folks have along these lines. In fact, I’m eager enough to get your creative juices flowing that I am offering a pound of THE best Ethiopian coffee in the world to the person who comes up with the most creative ideas.  Multiple ideas happily accepted.  What would make your kid laugh – AND think twice before disobeying again?

(And speaking of contests, the Probar winner is commenter #5 Jennifer.)

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  1. Jen Higgins says:

    When my sister and I used to bicker (we are 17 month apart) our mom would make us sit facing each other, cross legged with knees touching, hold hands, look each other in the eyes and smile for five minutes, no talking allowed. If we made a mean face she would add extra time. Every single time she made us do this we would dissolve into giggles before the time was up and be ready to play nicely again!

    • My mother had my sister and I do the exact same thing! I always thought she was creative, but now I am wondering if she just attended secret mom meetings where they exchange great ideas, lol! 😉

    • My Mom did this with my sisters and me too. We thought she was so crazy. 🙂

  2. I’ve actually made the siblings fighting hold hands (one set) the entire day. The only exception for breaking the hand holding would be to use the bathroom. By the end of the first hour, the kids were giggling because it was hard to do things while holding someone’s hand and they found they had to work together to accomplish something.

  3. Love, love, love this list. Not only does it catch the attention of the kid and point out the misbehavior, but it also defuses the anger both of the child and parent, which I know I really need right now.

    I’ve used the idea of “practicing” an action. For example, if your child slams the door, they need to open and shut it nicely 10 times. Usually they end up giggling.

  4. These are some great ideas! One idea I have is similar to Jen’s. When my kids bicker and fight, when I am thinking creatively, I make them hold hands, look at each other, and sing “The Barney Song.” They can not help but laugh hysterically and wind up setting their differences aside.

    Also, when my boys fight physically, I just calmly say “OK, if you are going to fight, fine, just take it out back.” I gently push them out the back door. The first time I did this, it was lightly raining. My two boys just stood there looking in the window (I peeked at them) and NOT fighting. Without Mom as an audience, they found they didn’t really have anything to fight about. Now all I have to do is say “take it outside” and they stop.

  5. One son used to run up or down the stairs all the time, which I didn’t like because it made him a “weapon” for anyone unfortunate enough to be coming up or down the stairs at the same time, etc. So, after warning him many times I finally had him run up and down the stairs for ten minutes. That pretty much cured, him, lol!

    The kids always slammed the doors. Finally, I made a rule that you had to open and close the door (gently) 100 times.

    I wanted my boys to have a “friendship.” So I scheduled a time each day where they had to play nicely together for a half hour to build and encourage their relationship (they took turns choosing what game to play). They weren’t allowed to watch a movie together during that time, it had to be playing a game or something that involved talking and communication. They are now grown up and are the best of friends.

    When they were younger they would bicker and argue and we got tired of hearing it. They were made to sit on the couch and hold hands for ten minutes. They weren’t allowed to talk to one another, just hold hands. They hated it. However, before the ten minutes were up they were always giggling and laughing together.

    Or I had them do a chore together, such as wash windows, one did the inside and the other did the outside. Or they were to write a nice “I’m sorry” note to each other (which I saved some over the years and it’s funny to read now).

    One time I tried having them stand nose to nose for a few minutes because they were arguing. There was a height difference and the oldest one hated it (which made it effective) but the youngest one loved it and wanted to do it again, lol!

    Sometimes I separated them into their rooms for a time-out, which meant that they couldn’t play with one another at all. That too, was effective.

  6. I’m the oldest of three girls and our mom would make us sit on the couch and hold hands. What she never knew is that sometimes one of us would dig our fingernails into a sister’s hand.

    I have not ever tried this with my boys, but I have threatened it. Maybe I should follow through, but sit close enough to monitor how tigthly they hold onto each other. Would hate for the youngest to get his fingers smashed by an angry older brother.

    I like the idea of having them name things they love about each other.

  7. Sharon E says:

    When my kids get a case of “he’s-touching-me-ist”, we play a game of hands on. I call out, “Hands on (select a body part)”. I change body parts quickly so they don’t have time to speak. If someone speaks before I feel they have calmed down that person has to hold their hands on their mouth until a winner (the end of the game is called.

  8. Once when the two eldest were fighting they had to sit on the front porch swing and HOLD HANDS until I said to let go and then I went inside and promptly forgot about them while I made dinner and didn’t realize they were still there until I heard them giggling together. They must have needed that time together.

    You have great ideas. I love creative consequences.

  9. My mom used to make us say 3 nice things about our siblings when we would insult them….which usually turned into the most insincere “I like your shirt, I like your hair, I like your shoes”….to this day, my 40 year old brother will catch himself making a sarcastic comment and follow it by saying, “sorry…I like your shirt!”.

  10. When the kids are too loud, I become louder than they are. It gets their attention and they ask me to stop. Which, of course, I don’t do! It makes them giggle but they realise how annoying it is. I stop a little bit after it get annoying for them…

  11. When a child has too much energy and it is disturbing for the other members of the family, I call the child with a threatening voice while smiling. I “order” said child to come to the nearest bed. I push him/her on it (which they love) and I start tickling while saying “tell me when all your extra energy is gone”. When the child is “exhausted”, I announce that it is time to play outside.

  12. When we go grocery shopping and the kids ask too many questions for me to be able to think about the grocery list, we play “parking”.
    I “park” the kids with the cart at the end of an isle. I press on each child’s nose. That means “park/freeze”. They can move only when I am done that isle and press their nose again. Which means “move”. We continue together unless they start interrupting again. If they do, we “park” once more.

  13. Sometimes, the kids seem to complain for lack of better things to do. They will report, let’s say, what a friend did that they did not like. But I can tell they are not disturbed. They will sometimes continue with their “grocery list” of little complaints. One complaint from a child seems to invite others to complain too.

    Matter-of-factly,I will start complaining as well, with things that do not make sense. “My feet hurt, my socks hurt, my ice cream bowl hurts, my supper hurts”…After 5 minutes of non-sense complaining, they all giggle and ask me to stop. “All right then, how about we all stop complaining?”. That usually does the trick.

  14. I’ve got nothin’!!! Mary, can you or one of these other creative ladies PLEASE become my personal parenting coach? I LOVE all of these ideas, but would NEVER think of any of them on my own….and probably won’t be able to remember any of them when I have a “situation” to deal with.

  15. Have kids who run in the house, crawl instead.

    Gossiping or saying mean things to a sibling – have them literally “hold their tongue” – have them stick out their tongue and grip it between 2 fingers.

  16. What do you do when you get resistance to one of these consequences? Like with a super stubborn child, or one who is being really rebellious?

    • Sandwich in Wi says:

      Yes. This. Or one who WILL hurt the other child. Or one who cannot see the log in his own eye. sigh.

      • Excellent questions. If I know a particular kid might hurt a sibling in a sly way when angry, I don’t do a paired-up chore. I’m much more likely to send him/her in to make the other child’s bed, alone. If two kids are at fault, they can nboth serve each other by doing something for the other child, but not together, and no unsupervised.

        As far as major rebellion, I use a variety of approaches:

        –stack up the goofy consequences til, for example, they panic at the threat of having to kiss mom TWENTY times and cave in and kiss me 5

        —give a different consequence like yard work, a nap, or loss of an outing. And the more they refuse to obey, the bigger the consequence gets. (ie, the 15 minute weeding session, becomes an hour.) Several of my teens have occasional paying jobs, which they value, and they know they only earn the privilege of going to that job if they remain respectful with mom and dad at home.

        — talk through what is going on in the kid’s heart to cause the wrong behavior. Is it jealousy that caused them to whack a sibling? Did they skip their chore out of laziness? And did those actions and heart- attitudes honor God. Our kids all love God, so if someone is temporarily off track, it often helps to talk through motivation and help them reflect a bit. That’s hard for all of us to do honestly, so they’re not easy talks, but I hope to gradually encourage kids towards better decision-making in the future.

        That’s what makes parenting really challenging, I’ve found. The rules don’t change, but to be a good parent, often the approaches need to be flexible. You’re constantly needing to assess and adjust your tactics, while still being true to the core principles being taught, which in our home include faith in God, respect for others esp those in authority, and the willingness to serve.

        Great questions!!

  17. I told the kids a while back that I find repeating tiring. As a result, I announced that every time I need to repeat, there will be an extra thing to do.

    So if I find shoes on the floor after asking to put them away, I will say “COOL! the shoes are still there. Now I get to pick something else you can help with”!

  18. Sometimes the kids have trouble being up at 8h. I will give a few extra minutes then sit on the side of their beds. “Where is the -on button on this thing?” I will ask. I will use my index and quickly tickle multiple spots to find “the on button”.

  19. One time when our oldest daughter, now 19, was in middle school, she was being disrespectful and complaining that her dad was embarrassing her in the mall. He told her if she didn’t straighten up immediately, he would stand next to the mannequin on display and sing “The Star Spangled Banner” at the top of his lungs. Then she would understand TRUE embarrassment. Thankfully, he only had to utter a few notes! 😉 We have used that successfully on several occasions. Our children know that dad will follow through! Embarrassment can be a valuable tool (within reason, of course!)

  20. This hand-holding consequence is popular! Once when my 8 and 10 year old were bickering incessantly, I made them sit on the couch, hold hands, and tell each other 10 things they loved about being sisters. I took a picture of them at the beginning because they were holding hands with the grumpiest, most annoyed looks on their faces. But eventually it worked, they were giggling and their hearts were softened 🙂

  21. My 13 year old boy/girl twins were having the worst time of bickering over a period of several weeks. I got tired of getting after them and my patience was wearing thin. Finally, I came up with the idea that the next time they started up they would have to walk the cul-de-sac hand in hand 5 times to the end and back. They were trying not to laugh by the end and thought they might die from embarrassment. I haven’t had to send them out since. Whew!

  22. I make them kiss each other! They groan horribly but they do stop fighting. Other things–we threaten to make them lick the floor clean with their tongue (you have to say this in a Cockney accent a la Monty Python), we send them outside to fight if their wrestling is making me crazy, one time we made them wash each others feet (we lived in the desert at the time), we made them eat a date (they don’t like dates), while they made horrible faces, which everyone else laughed at until everyone was laughing. I don’t know how original any of these are, but they’ve worked for us, and I ADORE Ethiopian coffee.

  23. Suk Yee Ng says:

    For bickering siblings, make them hug each other for a full 10 minutes all the while singing the tune to “Barney’s I LOVE YOU”!

  24. We have done several of the above mentioned items – holding hands when fighting, practicing walking in the hall 5 times, etc.

    We have had them run laps around the house when they are really hyper. It’s a loooong way around and after a few laps, they are pretty tuckered.

    We are having a problem right now I would LOVE some help with: complaining about what’s for dinner every night. They eat it, but they keep up a steady stream of “this is gross” “i hate this” “this tastes nasty” “i don’t like this” etc. I don’t cook anything weird – they were complaining about meatballs of all things last night! Any ideas?

    • I’m rather intolerant of complaints about food, personally. It takes a lot of work to cook, and I don’t want my kids to go out into the world as complainers, whether they be eating at a friend’s house or someday eating their spouse’s cooking. One of the rules at our house is that everyone thanks mom for the meal as they are being excused from the table. Also kids routinely participate in the cooking, so they know how much work is involved.

      A couple of my pickier kids do sometimes complain but they usually regret it because they sometimes end up getting a dab MORE of the disliked food. (Yes, I am a mean mom.) If a kid of mine (school age or older) was exceedingly whiny about food, I’d probably ask him/her to cook a meal a week for the next month or so, just to help them gain an appreciation for the work that is involved.

    • shortcake says:

      Dianne, When my older daughter had me at my limit with complaining I assigned her one day a week to plan and cook dinner. She is 10, and I made her plan a healthy meal, figure out what had to be purchased at the store, and cook the meal (supervised). She has gained a whole new appreciation for how much planning and effort goes into having that plate of food magically appear in front of her. Plus, she is gaining valuable life skills.

      Now she can whip up a nice dinner of roasted asparagus, pasta, and garlic parmesan sauce with no help. (she’s still 10)

  25. My mom used to respond to teenage whining by flopping on the floor and having a pretend tantrum. It fits in the embarrassing behavior and the “attention’s off you” schools of parent reactions.

  26. My husband excels at creative discipline:)

    Around our house if rude comments are made about the meal we look at the child and rather dramatically with a smile say ” Oh I didn’t realizze you wanted salad for supper tonight” :)… If that doesn’ t work then they get to eat as much salad as their heart desires with their choice of dressing.

    If all the kiddos are fussing a lot I turn the timer on the stove and we have quiet time for 10 minutes. They are allowed to write to each other. It works every time at our house.

    Repeating the action. Ex. If they elbow their brother then they have to sit and “elbow” the air a certain number of times as I watch. This always ends in fits of giggles.

    We do push ups, stair climbing. We have also done the hand holding and ” serving the offended sibling”.

    When there is a grumpy face I will DRAmTicaLLY say whatever u do do not smile…I mean Don’t smile…it usually ends with a smile.

    Having the child who is struggling help Mom because she really needs help with supper (chop tomatoes, etc) anything where they feel needed and get to be close.

    If they make fun of a siblings clothes that sibling gets to pick their outfit the next day.

    Write Bible verses pertaining to their misdeed.

    Running laps with the sibling they were fussing with.

    If they “forget” a book at school several days in a week they get to do a book report on a book we have at home.

  27. Tracy Adcock says:

    When one of my kids call another a name in anger (meanie, liar, etc.), that child become the servant to the “victim” for the next 24 hrs. It takes a few times, but eventually, they find other ways to deal with their frustration.

  28. I really enjoyed the book Playful Parenting. LOTS of ideas!!!