Yelling At Other People’s Kids

When the San Jose cop "arrested" his stepdaughter’s boyfriend for sleeping with her, the story raised all manner of questions.  Most pertain to whether the officer was appropriate in using his station to scare the boy and others pertain to whether the daughter should have been busted instead of the son.  A more basic question is how much latitude a parent has in dealing with Opie (Other Peoples kid).  Just how far can and should you go?

Let’s put the immediate question of the San Jose stepfather/cop to bed – I doubt that there’d be any issue at all if he’s simply punched the teen while out of uniform.  But utilizing an official process to "scare" a kid, especially in the boy’s home, was simply unacceptable.  Now let’s move on.

There are multiple factors coming into play with Opies

  • Are the other parents even around to help supervise or are you the sole adult in charge?  It’s likely that if you’ve got a toddler playdate at a neighbor’s house that you’ll have to take much action apart from monitoring your own.  The other parent is there to keep tabs on their own child and at the younger ages, simple redirection is often the only thing necessary to keep things in check.  That said, it’s not uncommon to "talk shop", which for parents often relates to common disciplinary measures so that you get a measure of the other parent’s views and preferences.  And if things do spiral out of control, then you should immediately let the other parent contend with the kid.
  • Are you a parent or are you fulfilling another role, such as leader at an event in which you have some legal responsibility?  I’ve found – and others have confirmed – that if you’re in charge, then the other parents are generally happy to let you handle the discipline short of corporal punishment.  On multiple occasions in scouting, I’ve noted that some parents’ attitude is akin to he’s your issue, have at it and good luck as Junior runs amok in the room.  Fortunately, there have been few issues when I’ve assigned time-outs or even pulled a boy aside for a chat. 
  • What’s the child’s age?  You might think that you have to be more "in the face" with smaller children who are out of control, but the younger more routinely only require quiet correction of some kind; it’s the teens who’ve been caught up in the cycle of group thoughtlessness who require a stronger hand.  Teens will tend to get caught up in the moment and group dynamics as they feed off of one another; there are also other issues such as saving face amongst the peers when confronted with an adult who’s trying to maintain or regain control.  Honestly, my moments of truly yelling have been with groups of ‘tweeners and teens who’ve gone totally around the bend.  Younger kids can still be intimidated and awed by the size of the upset adult and are more likely to be physically scared (which might or might not be a good thing) while the larger teens might feel the need to prove something.
  • What’s the severity of the incident?  If I find teens – for whom I’m responsible – driving around with other teens on the hood of the car, then I have no qualms about going ballistic on them; the chance of injury or death justifies yelling so that the shock breaks through their event barrier and grabs their undivided attention.  Yelling because the television is too loud in the basement is overkill.
  • Do I want to embarrass my own child?  Actually, if my own kid is there and I feel obliged to yell or become unpleasant, then embarrassment is the least of his or her problems.

It’s actually rare to have to become unpleasant with opies and many will take listen once you have their attention.  Only once have I had to actually get physical with teens and that was to protect my own kids, then toddlers.  The regional park to which I took  my own kids had an elevated playground in a copse of trees – seriously cool – and unsupervised teens were running through it repeatedly with the risk of a small child being knocked off.  One parent said something to no effect and when one group ran past, I shoulder-blocked the leading boy and knocked him askew.  Gee, sorry about that.  Guess you’d better watch where you’re going.  My point was taken and the group moved on. 

But if I ever find a boy with my daughter…


Kids, Guilt and Embarrassment

The past several decades have been a parental anomaly.  Parents have been concerned with their child’s self-esteem and image, and have often wished to be considered as much friend as parent.  That means that there’s generally less discipline and control and techniques that our grandparents used have gone by the wayside.  Two tools that have fallen out of use are embarrassment and old-fashioned guilt.  Is it ever appropriate to embarrass the child or make him feel guilty?

Actually, yes and I’ve used them both on occasion as they’re tools to be used to maintain discipline and teach, as much as groundings, time-outs, privilege-loss and old-fashioned jawboning.  This doesn’t mean that they’re used on every occasion – and they should actually be used sparingly – but neither are they to be avoided.

Embarrassment and guilt are powerfully negative feelings and kids are like everybody in that they’ll act to avoid the sense that these feelings bring.  But these are actually learned sensations and if a child doesn’t know to be embarrassed or feel guilty, then she simply won’t.  I think that there’s actually some value in these negatives; each reflects an awareness of other people and indicates that the child understands that there are other beings in the world apart from themselves. 

Embarrassment’s value is in helping the child to learn to control impulses and exercise some thought process instead of just doing something without any consideration as to the consequences.  When there’s an obvious and glaring outcome, there might even be no need on my part to embarrass the child since the action speaks solely for itself.  For example, if Junior is playing a sport and his goofing off on the field leads to a goal for the other team, there’s no need for me to highlight anything since his teammates will swiftly and certainly bring it to his attention.  In those instances in which Junior has been embarrassed by his actions, I’ve had to do nothing more than just acknowledge quietly that he had reason to be embarrassed.  Yeah, son.  You should have been embarrassed – so what do you take away from this?  A kid’s parents might not want to embarrass the child but his peers will certainly think nothing of it and a few will take to it like a pig to slop.  Where I’ve come to really utilize embarrassment is when my child is absolutely old enough to know better and the behavior is so glaringly stupid that it borders on or crosses into dangerous territory.  Teens are notorious for lacking the ability to assess risk, let along simply judgment in many cases and even when presented with the possible negative outcomes, will simply think that can’t happen to me.  This is especially the case when there are multiple kids together and absolutely none of them is thinking clearly, in which a cold dose of embarrassment will quickly bring things to a halt.  For example, finding three teenage boys playing tag in the rafter of a picnic pavilion more than ten feet above a concrete slab floor brought a vividly phrased condemnation to bring the point home.  Maybe you won’t fall, but you can be damned sure that you’ll get your self-esteem mangled if not your ribcage.  Likewise, misbehavior with a vehicle stands as ground for embarrassment and outright humiliation if the need arises.  Kids and teens might not remember reason, but they will acutely remember embarrassment before their peers.  Like many disciplinary situations however, there has to be a calmer follow-up conversation to bring the point home.  Pairing the immediate embarrassment with a later conversation can have a positive outcome.

Guilt differs from embarrassment in that the concern arises out of the consequences involving another instead of oneself.  It doesn’t have to have such a public cause and few, if any, need to be aware of the sense of guilt.  Most kids and teens with any conscience will experience the pangs of guilt and it usually isn’t necessary to inflict that sense on the child.  Where I have had to inflict a sense of guilt on one of my children has been when there’s been no realization that the behavior involves another person; the child will spin in his or her own little world unaware of how the behavior or attitude affects someone else.  In those rare instances, I’ve mentioned the concept of shame and the shock of the language and tone has usually been enough to bring the point home.  Again, it’s imperative that you talk with your child soon afterward so as to wade through the morass of upset and conflicting emotions until the other side has been reached.

Having to contend with a child who’s out of control requires some quick judgment on your part and it’s not my intent to provide wholesale endorsement of these two measures.  However, they do have their place and value and if you find yourself in the heat of the moment utilizing them, don’t necessarily condemn yourself as a poor parent or incompetent.  You’re actually doing the kid a favor.


Discipline:  Reopening Closed Matters

Most kids are tangential storytellers and getting the full, coherent story is sometimes akin to trying to untangle the lines from three separate fishing rods.  When they’re younger, it’s a result of simple inability to keep their facts and timelines straight but when they’re a bit older, it’s more likely shading, omission or outright lying to avoid consequences.  My general practice is to find out everything that I can, make the decision and then move on.  But is anything truly closed?

The particulars are unimportant to this article, but it’s sufficient to know that I thought that the matter was closed.  But at a recent event, I came to learn additional facts that put the incident in another light; certain information was omitted by the child in the course of the interrogation.  I was going to say "investigation" but interrogation is really closer to the truth of the moment.  The new facts were unbidden and came pouring from another person’s mouth and they were honestly horrified that they’d spilled beans.  This person was correct in their realization that this was damning information.  So, do I reopen the matter and a probable can of worms?  Or do I let it go and remember to dig a bit deeper the next time?  Fortunately, the incident didn’t involve any illegal activity or injury and in the great scheme, isn’t actually that big of a deal. 

My expectation is that when this child returns from a trip with Mom, there’ll be further discussion.  If for no other reason, I want the child to realize that there is no such thing as complete silence and that in the end, the parents will generally find out if they pay attention and follow-up.  I also anticipate that there will actually be discipline involved – the previous response was a discussion based upon the premise of a new situation with no real consequences – just to reinforce that it’s better to get the truth out there instead of covering it up.  We’ll also have a discussion about omission being as damaging as commission.

PracticalDad Discipline:  The 25 Cent Solution

One of the purposes of discipline is to teach a child self-control; that good things can come from mastering oneself.  Folks who are older – some of us anyway – can grasp the intellectual concept of delayed gratification but that’s difficult for a child who lives in a world of the physical here and now.  One way of helping them grasp the concept of self-control is to pay them for good behavior with spending money when the goal is reached.

I was reminded of the technique while talking with the mother of two boys, one of whom is in middle school and the other in upper-elementary.  The premise of the 25 cent solution is each child is promised a set amount of money at the end of a defined time period and any violation of the rules is met by a 25 cent reduction in the promised amount.  In the case of the mother’s boys, each would receive $5 at the end of the day if they didn’t get called on an infraction.  In her case, the infraction pertained to either one smacking the other which is a common complaint for those of us with boys.  He looked at me funny so I smacked him!  He called me a name so I smacked him!  I am not adopted (smack)!  You are too (smack)!

It’s a technique that we’ve used on a few occasions as well, but only on longer car trips when the kids are in close proximity that invite border incursions akin to those practiced by the North Korean Army.  It’s honestly not something that I would use as a disciplinary technique on a daily basis for several reasons. 

  • First, the kids have to learn that decent behavior is something that is expected of them – and everybody else – if we’re to have a functioning civil society.
  • Second, rewards should really be for something exceptional and not commonplace.  Yeah, I shaved this morning!  I deserve a beer.
  • Third, there simply isn’t enough money to meet the growing expectations of aging kids who become more jaded with each passing year.  The first grader might be happy with some post cards and a souvenir pencil, but the eighth grader is holding out for an iPod.  The last time that I checked, the Federal Reserve was only providing liquidity to large banks and not to parents of kids with champagne tastes. 

There are instances however, when it’s a valuable tool.  In our case, we  used it on long car trips when keeping hands to one’s self really was a feat of self-control.  Additionally, the kid knew that the money would be earned and could be spent as he or she deemed fit with no input from us unless it was wholly inappropriate.  This meant that we wouldn’t have to listen to constant begging for souvenir money and allowed the kids to allocate their resources as they saw fit.

Here are some guidelines for using the 25 cent solution if you want to consider it.

  • Decide in advance what rules are to be followed and explain them clearly.  These might include don’t hit (or even touch one another in our car), no bad language, no throwing objects, no teasing/namecallling and whatever else you deem important.
  • All judgments are final and non-negotiable.
  • If one of the kids is an instigator, the second complaint about the instigator (Dad, I smacked him because he keeps poking me with his foot!) means that the instigator also gets dinged with the 25 cent solution.
  • It’s helpful to have a small pad/pen with which to keep a tally each time the child gets dinged for a quarter.
  • Specific situations – having to pull the car over – lead to double penalties for all children.
  • Expect arguments during the early stages but things will improve as kids and parents learn the intricacies of the solution.

It’s another tool in the disciplinary toolbox and an effective one at that.  It can help maintain some order for a period in the family’s life until the kids are old enough to truly control themselves and trips are enjoyable just because, well, they are.

Can I Take the Remote Away?

It’s natural that kids are going to press limits and defy parents.  They’re growing and testing limits and the results when the limits are enforced aren’t always pretty.  But what do you do with a kid who ignores you in the moment and proceeds with whatever it is that they want?  That’s the situation that I learned about this morning when a father banned television for his middle-school son and the boy then took the remote and sat down and flipped on the set.  What are the options available?

Let me start by saying that I’m a firm believer in parental/paternal authority, what some now consider to be a quaint notion.  I’m legally responsible for their safety and behavior and I believe that they simply don’t have the experience and judgment to handle whatever comes their way.  So if I expect them to listen when those crunch times arise, I need to be able to depend on them to listen – and obey – when the stakes aren’t so high.  That means that they don’t have the option of picking and choosing when to listen; they can question me if they want and we can discuss it, and there have been moments when I’ll even change my mind if the objection both makes sense and is properly presented.  But the child – and that includes teen – is expected to toe the line when required.  And that’s where it gets dicey.

So if Junior takes the remote and clicks on the television despite the ban, what are the options?

  • Do nothing and leave the room, or do nothing and continue to talk/lecture/argue with the boy.  The reality is that the advantage now lays with the boy.  He’s ensconced on the sofa and watching television while Dad’s the one who is standing there talking.  The thought probably running through his head is that if he continues on the same path, then Dad will tire and eventually leave and he can continue on with the show.  The obvious problem with this approach is that the kid’s learned that he’ll win and the situations will continue and worsen through the years until the situation is untenable.
  • Physically go after the remote and remove it from the boy’s hands.  Adolescent boys are particularly difficult with testosterone and growing masculinity and the risk is that there’s going to be a full-blown brawl.  Worse than that, if the kid is hurt then you have to consider the prospect of being charged with abuse.  If that doesn’t happen, you’re still faced with the roiled emotions and damaged pride that can created further damage.
  • Know what the boy truly values and then use leverage to regain the remote.  If the kid has a cellphone, use that to regain the remote.  Threaten to take the cellphone and if he physically has it, then promise to call the carrier and cancel the contract.  The key is that if you’re going to use leverage, you have to follow through with whatever’s promised.  It helps then to have a history of following through with what’s promised and that’s something that comes from paying attention and following through from the youngest ages.  You can still do it if it’s new to the boy, but the situation will still be a mess.  Full disclosure:  I have a track record of following through on unpleasant consequences and have used leverage successfully on a number of occasions with all three of the kids.

That’s the reality that you often won’t see on the parenting shows, a reality of tension and unpleasantness that simply has to be waded through.  There’s liable to be yelling and while I don’t spend my time bellowing, there are actually moments when it serves a purpose.  But the important thing is to make sure that Junior toes the line because if he doesn’t, then the unpleasantries will spill outside the house into other, more public, venues.

Fatherhood and Discipline:  It’s Not Like Television

I enjoy watching shows like "Supernanny" but find myself conflicted while watching it.  On the one hand, it does a good job of introducing important tools and points that bring the particular family from train wreck to functional.  But even assuming that everybody’s not on absolute best behavior for the camera, the one hour limit doesn’t show the maddening, frustrating efforts at getting to that desired point.

Being an involved father – or mother for that matter – isn’t always easy.  The end of the show displays an engaged family playing in the yard and smiling happily.  But the reality is that while those moments certainly exist, there are plenty of other moments where you’re trying to ride herd on and teach kids that sometimes aren’t going to cooperate.  The non-cooperation can be limited to one child but if there are more kids involved, it’s likely to spread as kids start to veer off the track for various reasons.  They might find it fun to drive Dad over the edge or they start to misbehave to gain attention like the repreobate sibling.  Or they join in solidarity of teen rebellion.

Let me give you an example.  Time-outs are a good disciplinary tool when the kids are younger and a TV show will demonstrate it being done by a parent in a several minute segment.  You might see the Dad returning the kid to the spot when he tires of it, but that only takes a few times before the kid knuckles under – and that’s exactly what it is – and remains there.  And again, at the end of the show, things are infinitely improved.  But the reality is that the process by which a child learns that you’re serious can take far longer.  I’ve had early time-outs take longer than an hour as the child repeatedly gets up to leave without permission and the mutual frustration level is high.  But you can’t quit because that only teaches the child that further disobedience is permissible.  So don’t be surprised if you find that your voice and blood pressure are raised and an out-of-body view shows you to appear to be on your last shred of patience.

So what are your options?

  • Tag-team the situation with your mate so that you can get a short breather before re-entering and taking your turn.
  • Enforce the discipline with further measures.  I’ve enforced time-outs with a recalcitrant child by using a three-count with loss of favored toys/privileges for refusal to cooperate.
  • Then be sure to enforce that measure.
  • Send the child to bed for the night.  They’ll scream and carry on but will eventually wear out and you’ll get some quiet.  If that means it’s as early as 5 PM, so be it.  There are times when the child is legitimately at the end of his tether due to exhaustion and simply cannot control himself.
  • If you’re alone and have to take a breather to keep from snapping, take that break and remove yourself.  Then go back and resume.
  • When the situation is finally resolved, remember to go back and follow up with some conversation about behavior and consequences.

There are times that you will become angry and some of those times are entirely appropriate.  Being angry doesn’t make you a bad parent.  The difference is what you do with the anger and how you channel it.

PracticalDad:  Accountability, Discipline and Teens

Kids grow, age and change and we expect that.  One of the great challenges of being a parent is adapting while still being consistent within the adaptation, just like a parent trying to be flexible within the daily schedule while still maintaining a sense of structure.  It’s no different for discipline  than it is for anything else and in fact, it’s probably more difficult for discipline since the heart of discipline is teaching the child and that child is going to push more and more of your buttons as she ages.

When the kids are smaller, you’re around them more and the environments are much more controlled.  You can keep an eye on them and their activities and things are much more of a known quantity.  You have a decent sense of the risks, hazards and temptations.  They’ll still come up with new twists that catch you off-guard but if you think like a kid, you start to anticipate what can happen.

Temptations and situations develop when they enter a larger environment.  More kids from other families – each family with its own values and priorities – and new surroundings mean that the parents must stretch their attention span; what new challenges can arise and what should the response be when they do?

But discipline becomes a real challenge when the kids reach the point that they’re more aware and think that they’re smarter than "the ‘rents".  Rules will be questioned – sometimes rightfully – and the opportunity is now there to pursue actions and behaviors that are potentially self-destructive.  Now discipline can almost reach the point of being akin to a military campaign.  You have to observe and question, demand details and parse through commentary that appears straightforward to the addled teen brain but is actually short of real information.  You then have to work to channel them to the options that are in their best interests and that can involve maintaining a considerable and extended period of pressure to assure their compliance.  It can be unpleasant and lead to discord within the household; the child is unhappy having to comply with a semi-senile old coot and you’re unhappy too.  It’s unpleasant being considered "the bad guy" and equally unpleasant enforcing accountability, especially if it means that something in which the child excels is being withheld to assure compliance.

Over the long term, it’s easy to become discouraged and doubt yourself.  Expect mistakes, by both you and the child, and correct them accordingly.  But remember that you’re the parent and have a much larger knowledge base as well as the responsibility to help this kid reach a productive adulthood.  And then gear up for a potentially protracted campaign.

Praise and Positive Reinforcement as Discipline

Discipline is too often equated with punishment since most fathers only remember to apply it when something has gone wrong.  But the purpose of discipline is about teaching the child right from wrong and that’s also something that can be done in a positive way as well.  It’s important to remember that positive reinforcement can be an important disciplinary tool with your child.

One of my greatest tasks as a father is teaching my child about the world, what it means and ultimately how to survive in it.  If Junior begins to think that I only notice her when things are going wrong, then the result will be defensiveness whenever I open my mouth and the necessary lesson isn’t going to be learned.  And frankly, it naturally gets tougher as the kids age and begin to think that they know more than they do.

So what do I try to remember about positive reinforcement and praise?

  • Remember first and foremost that kids want your attention and time more than stuff.
  • Praise is a more general term and is a feedback that you can provide in non-specific circumstances.  For instance, if I’m chatting with one of the kids and tell her that she’s really smart – and Eldest actually is – then that’s providing feedback for a generalized trait regardless of any specific instance.
  • Positive reinforcement is more specific and refers to a particular instance or series of instances.  Telling Eldest that she’s smart is praise, telling her that she really earned her A through persistence and a smart study plan is positive reinforcement.  My attention to the situation reinforces the behaviors and habits that led to the good result.
  • When I provide either, but especially positive reinforcement, I try to have one or more concrete examples to bolster the commentary.  If I don’t, then Junior’s going to view it as overpraise and will both get a swelled ego and begin to ignore the commentary that actually accompanies it.
  • I try to tailor the reinforcement to Junior’s age level and experience.  If Junior’s three years of age, then positive reinforcement on good table manners is important.  When she’s fifteen, then good table manners are simply an expectation of standard behavior and usually not to be commented on.  That said, I have on occasion issued a blanket compliment to the three kids when we’re in a restaurant and we’ve witnessed a behavioral trainwreck at an adjoining table.
  • Positive reinforcement is especially important when it’s a new circumstance with which Junior’s had no experience.  It’s also important on those occasions to talk to her in advance and give her some understanding of what’s going to happen so she’s not blindsided; the reinforcement at the end brings the experience home and lets her know how she did and that you even noticed.

 These aren’t magic in and of themselves, but they are valuable additions to the fatherhood toolbox.  And a good and well-used toolbox is filled with implements that are regularly used.


PracticalDad:  Discipline Tips From Tony Soprano

Sometimes you can find instruction in the oddest places and I’ve noted that Tony Soprano provides some valuable insights for fathers.  Not in regards to the physical side since what he’s got to offer is unacceptable.  However, he does have something beneficial ot say about getting someone’s attention and compliance.

Tony – and others like Don Vito Corleone – understand the value of leverage.  Like the physics principle, leverage is used to multiply an existing force to provide the maximum output.  It’s a tool that’s used to overcome inertia and cause a motionless object to move; the lever can be a simple block of wood or it can be far more sophisticated.

My wife and I have occasionally disagreed about whether there are moments in child-rearing when it simply comes down to a contest of wills.  I believe that while a parent shouldn’t have to go head-to-head with the  youngster, there are moments when the child is simply going to have to knuckle under and do what he’s been told.  And in these moments, when other means fail, it’s helpful to know what leverage is available to insure that the child obeys.  It’s not pleasant, but it is necessary.

What is it that matters to the child?  Is it a toy or an activity?  When you realize what it is and decide that you have to use it as a lever, there are several things to consider.

  • Is there another alternative to the situation?  If the item is a toy that provides quiet entertainment and you’re looking at an event at which the kid’s liable to be bored, are you creating later problems by removing what will help occupy him?
  • Has there been sufficient warning of what could be lost if he doesn’t comply?
  • Does the child truly understand what’s at stake if he doesn’t comply?  It does no good to make an offer he can’t refuse if it’s one that he can’t understand.
  • Is the consequence commensurate with the situation?  If it’s a privilege or toy, is it going to come back again or is it gone forever?
  • Will the child have the opportunity to earn it back afterwards?  Depending on the situation, we’ve sometimes allowed the possibility of earning it back.  Frankly however, it also depends on how torqued I am.

Leverage isn’t the be-all and end-all of disciplinary methods and it’s not one that has to see the light of day every time the kids are out of control.  But it is another tool that can go into your pocket for use when you deem it necessary.


Discipline:  Is Clemency a Good Idea?

My three major concerns in enforcing discipline are immediate response, enforceability, and consistency.  But another question that occurs is whether clemency is ever advisable.  Does giving a reprieve create more issues?

Another child – a friend of my own kid – returned home after dark after having a mechanical problem with his bike.  He erred in assuming that his elder sibling would pass his whereabouts to the parents, who were briefly away.  The father’s response was to ground him as a reminder that it’s his responsibility to inform them of his plan and then obtain permission.  I’ve done the same thing when one or more of my own have failed to inform or show up late.

But Murphy’s Law can crop up when the grounding occurs within a short time of an event that is particularly important to the child.  In this instance, my son had invited this boy and others to a Halloween Scary Movie night.  What might Dad do?  Should he grant clemency?

What are some of the considerations on whether to provide clemency?

  • What did the child do to deserve discipline?  Is it recurring?  This occurrence was a failure to think and not being "bad", and is a rarity for the child.  Dad’s discipline wasn’t meant to be punitive as much as to force the child to understand that there are consequences for (in)actions; and not keeping Dad apprised of his whereabouts is meaningful.
  • How is the child handling the discipline?  If the kid whines and creates an issue about the discipline, do you want to grant clemency?  Or will doing so encourage future whining and general nastiness?  Kids have to learn that they will encounter unpleasant situations in life and that whining can make it worse.  As one father said, his pastor referred to it as learning to "suffer well".  I agree, although we refer to it as "sucking it up".
  • Does the child ask for the reprieve and if so, how does he handle it?  Kids have to learn how to speak without whining and if he can manage to actually carry on a conversation, then there’s possible merit in rewarding that effort.  Frustration and emotion are difficult to control and the effort should at least be noted, even if you deny the request.
  • What’s the nature of the upcoming occasion?  Does it involve other kids or people with whom he should associate?  You don’t have to say I don’t approve of this guy, but allowing him to attend after finding out who else is involved sends a powerful message.  Is it a one-time occasion that won’t come again?  My father gave me a reprieve to attend my junior year homecoming dance.  And then it was back into the doghouse.
  • Know your child.  Will he use this as a reminder or excuse to demand further clemencies?  Not everyone will use this occasion as a tool for future demands and some kids will respect the deal.  You might want to consider if it’s going to haunt you in the future.

Kids and situations can be so variable that there isn’t always going to be a right decision.  But asking these questions can help with the thought process as you consider the situation.