Why is it that punishing the kids ends up punishing me too?

Our boys are currently on punishment. William Gilbert said, “Let the punishment fit the crime.” My husband and I agree.

The crime

This particular offense amounted to a four hundred dollar loss (actual, not estimated) and was also the third time they had been caught breaking this same rule.

The punishment

All privileges have been revoked. This is to include all electronics (tv, iPad, Xbox, computer, etc.). Basically, the boys read or exercise.

Naturally, the boys’ first question was, “How long?.”

I could not answer that question immediately because I was beyond upset with them. After 2 days I landed on a solution that I found to be fair, at least in my eyes. They would be on punishment for as long as it would take for them to work off their debt to us, each owing two hundred dollars.

My vision

My husband and I spend most of our Sundays cleaning the house, doing the laundry, preparing our family for the upcoming week. But, as long as the boys were working out their punishment we could binge watch Netflix, I could lock myself in my office and write, the possibilities were endless. Our boys would be busy little bees tidying up, learning how to properly clean an entire house.

Of course, I expected the quality of the cleaning would not be the same as if my husband and I were doing it, but it would be good enough.


Oh goodness, my boys really have no idea how to clean. The glass tables were spotty, the floors were soaking wet, the sink faucets were not wiped off, the counters and floors were full of debris. Here is how it goes down.

  1. Explain and show how the task is to be done.
  2. Child does the task.
  3. Parent walks back into the room and points out what has been done well and what was left undone.
  4. Child fixes things.
  5. Parent assumes things have been corrected only to walk back into the room later and discover that is not the case.
  6. Parent asks child to fix again.
  7. Child begrudgingly finishes the task.
  8. Repeat cycle with the next cleaning item.

It’s almost like being in some sort of purgatory. It makes me wonder if they are doing this on purpose, making it so horrible that I’ll just wipe the slate clean. Little do they know the amount of misery I am willing to experience so that they may:

  • Learn not to waste money, especially four hundred dollars of someone else’s hard earned money.
  • Learn to properly clean.

Unexpected consequences

It hasn’t been all bad, honestly, it has been more fun than annoying. Because their options for entertainment have been so limited, they have been doing some pretty creative things. They pretend to have cooking shows, act out their favorite movies or video games, joke, pose and answer all kinds of “what if’s” and laugh A LOT playing with each other.

This punishment may just be teaching all of us more than we initially realized, PARENTING WIN!


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