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To Punish or Not to Punish

Posted by lisonwal (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 27, 09 at 11:32

Our son is in the 6th grade. He is very smart and currently brings home As and Bs. He can be a straight A student but he takes shortcuts on everything he does. He loves to play (it doesn't matter what type of play) and would rush his work just so he can play. We have a rule in our house where our kids do not watch TV, play video games or go out to play with friends on a school day so this doesn't interfere with him getting his work done. He plays instruments and is very involved in sports, arts, computers, any and everything.

I'm just wondering, if you know your child can do better and he admits to rushing his work, talking in class, etc but he gets As and Bs would you punish him when he brings home a C or low B on assignments because his teacher required a paragraph, for example, and he decided to write a sentence? Or his teacher checks their planner several times a month and he gets a C because he didn't take the 40 seconds (his words) to write his homework in his planner during the 5 minute period that the teacher gives them to complete this task?

I know if we continue to allow him to get away, it may get worse and it may affect him sooner or later. So do you punish a child for this and, if so, HOW?, when you know that your child can do better? He has even admitted that if he stopped taking shortcuts he can bring home all As.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Maybe instead of punishing him you can give him some kind of incentive to bring home all As. Some kind of reward, something he wants, doesn't have to be material, can be some extra privilege or extra time with friends, or whatever might motivate him.

I know many people believe you shouldn't pay for grades and I'm not exactly advocating that. But it just seems like the carrot might work better than the stick in this case. He needs some kind of motivation to do the extra effort. You WANT the motivation to be his own inner motivation but if it's not, then maybe you can help it along. And maybe at some point he'll get used to the inner satisfaction that comes from doing your best and getting the As, which is your ulimate goal.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

No. Don't punish. His grades, his motivation. Do you always, always, always work up to your full potential. If he starts bringing home Ds, revisit the question. Don't punish now for not being perfect because he MIGHT someday in the future do worse.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

I'm with Lowspark.

I vote Carrot.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

He sounds like a delightful boy, who is enjoying life, and is happy.

If you want him to be more focused on his work, at home, you could just sit beside him whilst he is doing his homework. Become really familiar with what he is doing.

I think it is best to inspire children to do things, not punish.

Set goals for him. Do homework, get it checked by you - then outside to play.

Play is a way for him to learn, I would never stop the play, or at lease give him boundaries.

Last week at my son's school we had a talk given to us by a psychologist about how to motivate your child to study and do well at school. This was for year 11 and 12 students, so a bit older than your son.

A few things I remember.

He said that his research found that it was not the "brilliant' kids that did well at school, as they could often not be motivated - it was the one's who were organised and had good routines in place.

He also said that with homework - to get the most efficiency out of the time - there must be no distractions, like music, phone, other family members etc.

He also said that children should have protein for breakfast, not so much carbohydrates.

He also pointed out that boys were goal oriented. So that might fit well with your son.

Your boy is young, and remember he will not always be the same. In my experience children change over their growing years. My son had a bad year at school last year, but this year he has become more focused and decided himself to work hard for the next two years. His final year is next year.

As a parent, both my husband and I, are very active in what he is doing in his school work, and we help out in any way we can. It is hard work, sometimes !

Hope this helps.

Ta Ta for now !


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

I wouldn't punish him either. Why put more stress on him? Kids, today, are stressed enough!

I know if we continue to allow him to get away, it may get worse and it may affect him sooner or later.

Not necessarily. He's not perfect, and it's important that he doesn't try to be perfect. If you punish him for that, you might make it worse.

My daughter, 11th grade, hasn't been doing her homework at all. I'm not gonna hound her about it cuz she's stressed enough. She'll just have to deal with the consequences. She's old enough to make her own decisions about her education.

She brought home her report card last week.

12th grade English Literature: 88%
12th grade History: 85%
11th grade Maths: 93%
11th grade Religion: 91%

Pretty good for someone who hardly does her homework!

IMO, if you become "too picky" about his studies, he'll slack off more because he'll get too stressed.

We've always told our daughter that as long as she does her best, that's okay... even if her best is a C.

However, if she gets a C because she didn't even try, then that's not acceptable.

The problem with my daughter is that she puts everything off until the last minute. She has anxiety. I've told her several times that she'd be less stressed if she didn't wait until the last minute...but... hasn't changed anything. So now I don't say a word and let her deal with it herself. Maybe someday she'll come to realize what I said and change it. If not, well it's her life! She'll have to deal with the "consequences" of her decisions.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Thanks for all the great advice and examples! Parenting is definitely hard no matter how long you've been at it! We've used charts, incentives, etc. for our kids. Just last year we bought them a trampoline for doing well on the state test and report card so the incentive is there. Sometimes, however, the incentives motive him and sometimes they don't.

I also agree about the stress that kids today have and plan to try the suggested diet of proteins for breakfast (another headache-it's already hard enough getting him to eat breakfast in the morning!) My son is also VERY disorganized so that could be an issue, too. I stay on top of him with this by checking his backpack, planner, notebooks and folders daily but I'm thinking it's just him. His bedroom is no different and he tries to carry it over to the rest of the house!


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Lisonwal - something I do to "help" my son get organised is to put any relevant information, up on a cork board in the kitchen. Assignment sheets, exam timetable, chemistry he is trying to learn - if he sees things - it sinks in more. And I know what is going on.

Perhaps you could work out how best your son learns - does he learn best visually, or by hearing etc.

My daughter had a very messy bedroom (she is 21), but with school work she was very organised and went on to do very well at school - it's funny how they turn out. They challenge you at every turn, but basically you just learn along with them !

You sound like you are doing a fantastic job.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

We had the exact same issue in the 6th grade. I believe that the above parents who responded know their own children and their own situation best, and they did what was right for them.

But for my son simply a carrot, or the attitude "your grades, your responsibility, your decision" would have been a disaster. My son was a very bright, capable kid, who could easily have made straight A's by paying attention in class and getting his work done with a reasonable amount of care. My son's problem, like yours, was that he raced through his work in order to be finished so he could play.

We did what the school recommended. The middle school here recommends that you designate a set amount of time after school as homework and study time. So I set a homework time of 1 hour (I think, I really don't remember the exact amount) at a designated time. We set up a place for my son to do his homework with all the supplies handy that he needed. He had to do homework or study that entire hour every single day. It did him absolutely no good whatsoever to finish early, because he had to use the entire hour. If he finished all his work, then he could organize his book bag, or do practice worksheets. He was a voracious reader, so he wasn't allowed to read books, but if he had hated reading that would have been on his list of things to do once he ran out of homework.

I also checked his math homework every single night. If it was illegible, he had to rewrite it. If he missed one or two problems, I told him which problems were incorrect and he figured out what was wrong. But if he missed more than that, I just told him his homework wasn't correct, and he had to figure out what was wrong - I did that because he was more than capable of figuring out what was wrong himself.

In short, I was a brick wall as far as homework was concerned...every...single....dreary...day. My son hated his math teacher, probably hated me, certainly wished he had a different mother that year. But it was one of the best things that ever happened to him. In the whole process of checking his homework, I learned that he wasn't very organized and there were lots of test-taking and homework techniques he didn't know. My son learned to be organized because he had to. Consistency was the key - I didn't ever let him get away with not doing his work. Once he realized there was simply no other way, he knew the fastest, most efficient way to get to go out and play was to do his work right the first time and that's what he did.

If your son is disorganized, I will tell you that many of the teachers I know say that organization is the single biggest predictor of success in the later school years. Disorganized kids can learn to be organized if they have to.

In later years I came to bless my son's propensity to hurry through his work. He became super efficient because he wanted to be done so he could do the things he wanted to do.

My daughter, on the other hand, is also very talented and intelligent, but has always been meticulous in her work. When she was a child and a middle-schooler she worked very slowly and got everything right. While that was wonderful in elementary school, it's a curse in high school if the class load is rigorous.

Some of the above posters mention stressed kids, and I understand. My daughter is very stressed. But my son could have done his work in the sixth grade cruising on just half his brain cells. There was absolutely no excuse for him not doing his work. Just because he'd rather be playing was no excuse (in my opinion). He had plenty of play time.

We did pay our son for grades. Our rule was "Mom pays you for A's, you get nothing for B's, you pay Mom for C's".

In the 6th grade my son wanted to drop out of all his hard classes to take easier ones. He was racing the other boys to see who could finish their test the fastest, or who could finish their work the fastest. The winner was not the highest grade, but the one finished first. By the time my son was a senior in high school he and his friends were competing to see who got the highest grade in AP calculus and physics.

There is more than one road to success, and I know plenty of parents who take the "your grades, your responsibility" route, and their kids do great. Drown out all the voices around you and focus on your son and his goals - not the goals he has now, but the goals you think he will have later. Not the goals you want for him, but what you think he will want for himself. Once you do that, somewhere inside you, you will know what to do.

Teachers are a valuable resource. Tell his teachers your concern, ask them to be thinking about what they'd advise, then go back later and ask them after they've had time to think it over. They see lots of boys like him every year from all different backgrounds and abilities.

Kids who develop good habits early have a huge edge on kids who don't. In my opinion it's much, much easier to clamp down and require good habits and organization now than later on in high school. There are a world of opportunities that open up to kids in high school, and if they want to take advantage of them and keep up their grades, they need to know how to organize their work and manage their time. Middle school is the perfect time to learn those skills.

Whatever you decide, enjoy your wonderful son. The time goes by way too fast.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

I'll preface what I'm about to say by pointing out that what works for one child won't work for everyone. My DD9 is a 96-99 student, and does get punished when she does not work up to her potential. Excuses just aren't acceptable to me. If she gets a lower grade on something because she truly did not understand, I work with her on it to make sure she gets it. If, however, she gets a low grade on something because she rushed the test or assignment, that is completely not acceptable and I will take away some privilege she has until she corrects the problem. Now, I'm not saying every 92 or so gets punished. But, she does get a huge pile of grades sent home once a week and if there are multiple grades demonstrating lack of care, she will lose a privilege, e.g., no TV on weekends until I see improvement. The punishment, plus the fact that she hates to disappoint me, keeps her working hard and taking pride in her work. To me, its all a matter of instilling hard work regardless of innate intelligence, which she has in spades, but which will not contribute to life success unless she values putting in the hard work.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Daisyinga, I swear, you are describing my child exactly. I've tried something similar to the one hour homework time. I had a timer and would ask my son how much time he thinks he needs to complete an assignment then I would put the timer on and he would have to complete it in that time. We would do this for each assignment until all of his homework is completed. This would mean no drumming with his pencils, no making origami, etc. If he didn't finish within the specified time, there would be a consequence such as time taken away from weekend TV or playing outside with his friends etc.

It's funny that you mentioned asking his teachers for help because I requested a conference to discuss how he was not working up to his fullest potential and ALL of his teachers were shocked that I called a conference. They agreed that he could do better if he were more organized but because he gets As and Bs, is well behaved and actively participates in class and school activities, they thought it was good enough. My son even told me that the day before the conference, one of his teachers pulled him aside and asked him why I felt the need to call a conference. So in this situation, although they were helpful in working with me to help with the situation, I felt they did not share the same standards that I had for my child.

Mariealways, I have been doing exactly what you've been doing and not accepting less that his best in many situations. I really believe that if I don't do that, when I can no longer keep up with him in high school, he might stray. I turned to this forum for advice because I started hearing from a few family members that I am being too hard on him-that he's getting good grades so I should be happy with that. It got to the point where it was starting to become frustrating that I thought I'd find out what others are doing in similar situations.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Lisonwal, how old is your son?

When my son was in elementary school I knew he wasn't working up to his potential, but I hesitated to say anything because he was making all As. Every school conference we had, his teachers said he was doing well. He could rush through his work and not pay attention in class and still get As. Because he wasn't a discipline problem or a distraction, the teachers didn't feel he had a problem and always said he was fine.

But when he started middle school (6th grade here), he had a very demanding math teacher for a gifted math class. When he started having to actually study and put forth effort on his homework, my son started having problems. It wasn't just my son - the teacher said many of her students who were used to coasting along started struggling.

High school here is very different than elementary school. In elementary school here the gifted program is a pullout program for just a part of a day. In high school students can take every class gifted or Advanced Placement. High school freshmen and sophomores who are recommended by their teachers can take A/P classes with seniors. So an enormous world of opportunities open up for high school students who are motivated, organized, and want to learn.

Where we live the class sizes for those types of classes are smaller, my son's friends were almost all in those classes, and many kids like the classroom discussion, etc. better in those classes. I saw many boys who hated to do homework or study in the 6th grade choose to take the more rigorous classes in high school, because once they got a little more maturity they liked those classes better. But it made a difference if they came to high school prepared.

I thought our middle school here did an excellent job preparing students for high school. The middle school teachers realized their students were going to take a more rigorous load in high school than they'd ever had, so they did an excellent job of raising the bar on homework load and difficulty of the coursework. The middle school teachers gave our kids enough homework and made the coursework difficult enough so that the kids were forced to learn better time management skills and better organization if they wanted to keep their grades up.

You are right, it's harder to keep after them in high school. They have so many distractions - learning to drive, dating, sports, after school jobs, etc.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish - --

Sorry, Lisonwal, I didn't see before that you are the original poster. I see your son is in the 6th grade.

If my son had always had regular classes, he would have always cruised through school making As with little effort, and his teachers would always have said he was doing fine.

I am very, very thankful for his awesome 6th grade math teacher, who prodded, poked, pushed, and encouraged her students to do their best. My son hated her in the 6th grade, but by 8th grade she was his favorite teacher. She taught him for both 6th and 8th grade math, and he will tell you today that he is a better person because she set the bar high for her students.

Funny story: One day a tornado passed over the school and the kids had to get under their desks. My son was in math class with awesome, difficult, no-nonsense 8th grade math teacher, and the class was taking a test. She made them take their pencils and papers under the desk with them and finish the test while the tornado passed over. For a long time she was the standard by which both my kids measured teachers. She set her expectations high but she made sure her students were well-prepared to meet them if they tried.

Lisonwal, if your son is like mine, he needs a teacher like that and a parent like you.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

As a teacher and parent, I don't believe in punishing OR paying for grades.

On the one hand, it's important for students to understand that their education and good grades are their responsibility. And parents need to accept that every child isn't going to be good in every subject, every day. As someone else mentioned above--do all of us always do our very best every second?

Rather than punishing or rewarding, I think it's more important for adults to instill passion in their children. Passion to learn, passion about the topics being covered in school. One example--my math grades as a kid. My mother yelled and screamed, and punished poor grades. I remember once I brought home a C in math--think it was 4th grade. I really didn't like the subject and didn't understand the fractions and geometry we were working on. I don't recall my mom's ranting making much of an impression upon me. but I DO recall what my father did. He never even told me it was to address my grades (and at the time I didn't realize what he was doing). He was a contractor. He started including me in writing up estimates. He showed me what he did, how he figured the job, what the materials cost, etc, and asked for my 'help' checking his figures. I bought it hook line and sinker, and loved finding mistakes (which I suspect he 'seeded' in his estimates so I'd feel like I was really helping). His method did several things--first, it didn't belittle me. He showed me WHY I was learning math, it made all that pointless practice make sense when I saw how adults used math to do their jobs and make money. He gave me lots of practice that I enjoyed. Most importantly of all? He taught me a love of the subject. That 4th grade C was the last C I ever brought home--All A's from then on, and all advanced math courses in high school. To this day, I love numbers and so appreciate my father for sharing his fascination with them with me.

Here's another way to inspire a child's passion. We always made DD's school lessons a part of our lives outside of school. When we travelled, we made sure we visited places that reinforced her history, science, art, etc. lessons from school. We did the same in our neighborhood--finding all sorts of ways to make her schoolwork come alive for her. I always tried to show her the practical side (the reasons) for what she was learning. She became fascinated with politics and world affairs--partly, I believe because we introduced those things in her daily life. And a lot ofthe time, she didn't even realize that she was learning--we made our 'field trips' just 'family trips', visiting places that we thought were fun.

Kids understand so much better when they understand the point of the lesson, too. Generally, they don't have the life experiece we do and don't always 'get' the point of what we're trying to tell them if it's too abstract. Just this evening, my little neighbor friend was running around the driveway. Her mother yelled at her, "Stay away from Mr. Azzalea's windows". (Mr. A had some freshly painted storm windows in the driveway). Little friend didn't really get the instruction. I took her hand, and led her back to show her the windows. I told her what Mr. A was doing, why it was dangerous and messy (she had on a cute dress) for her to get too close. Then I told her which room in our house the windows were for--her house is exactly like ours, and those windows were the ones from the same bedroom as hers. She's only 2, but my explanation made an impression. Not only did she understand and stay away from the windows, but she worried when her dog went to close. They can understand so much, and learn so much when we simply take the time to work with them--rather than resorting right away to punishing or bribing.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

I don't mean to be rude, but...

Now, I'm not saying every 92 or so gets punished.

Wow!!

The punishment, plus the fact that she hates to disappoint me, keeps her working hard and taking pride in her work.

I'm sorry but it sounds like you expect your daughter to be perfect ALL THE TIME.

What really bothers me is "she hates to disappoint me". Are you not afraid/concerned with the fact that she'll never think that she's good enough for you unless she does her absolute best all the time? You hear this all the time from adults who were brought up that way. She'll think that she has to be perfect all the time or else it's no good.

My daughter USED to think that she had to please everyone. She was so afraid to let anybody that loved her down. She was so stressed about it. It was unreal! She thought it was EXPECTED of her. She became too hard on herself.

I agree so strongly with Azzalea. Showing them why an education is important is better than punishing them.

My daughter has learned to do well for HERSELF and her FUTURE... not for me and her dad. She knows very well that education is freedom. Her education will determine her future.

There's also the possibility that when a child is out on his own attending university, he will slack off because he's tired of trying to prove to his parents that he's perfect. He'll get tired of this stress and do things the way HE WANTS TO for HIMSELF. Having nothing to prove to anyone or not caring who gets disappointed or not. Not caring if he has to work to his full potential all the time.

I mean.. getting punished for a 92 even once is like wow!!!

A lot of kids, when reaching university, give it their "all" because they know "this is it"... their future.. without having been punished because they didn't reach their full potential all the time in high school/middle school..whatever.

Do you honestly know how your child feels about this? He must be stressed and harbour some resentment at times.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Khandi, as I said, what works for one child doesn't work for another. I know my child and I am doing what I think is best for her, knowing all the facts, which you don't. So, I don't appreciate your rush to judgment. I come from a long line of underachievers. High IQ, everything comes easy, and so you do only what is enough to get by, and just enough is good enough most of the time. The problem with that, as I learned, 20 or 30 years later you realize that you have a serious problem that is extremely difficult to correct. I am nipping that in the bud right now. I do not want her to be perfect. No one is perfect. What I am instilling in her is hard work. She is a very gifted child that if she is not pushed to work hard all the time, will learn to settle for mediocrity and just how will that benefit her down the line. Trust me when I say it wont. As an example, and I can list many similar people, my oldest brother is one of the most intelligent people you'd ever meet, high IQ, photographic memory, well-read, etc. etc. And as an adult, he does nothing. He moves from wife to wife who supports him while he stays home and plays video games, lifts weights, and lives a life of leisure. Growing up, my parents did not push him to do his best so he was happy with getting 80s and cruising through up and including college. Now, do you know who he blames for the way he is? Our parents. My daughter is extremely well adjusted and I do not think she is stressed or harbor's any resentment. And even if she did, I am ok with that. I think she will thank me as an adult. She is very-well rounded, well-manner little girl. Her life is not all about school. It's just a part. In our family, the rule is work hard, play hard.

I think in general, we are way too lax in the way our generation of parents are raising the next generation of children. Nothing comes easy. If you think there is something wrong with instilling hard work, not 95% of the time, but 100% of the time, then we'll just have to disagree. I won't change what I'm doing because you think its not right.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Sounds like your rules are punishment enough.

"We have a rule in our house where our kids do not watch TV, play video games or go out to play with friends on a school day"

Never heard of being that strict. You are punishing him before he does anything wrong. My life was playing with my friends and doing things with my family and I got my school work done. My sis set such high standards for boys they went overboard the other way. All three boys have been in jail and 2 of them went to prison.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Now, do you know who he blames for the way he is? Our parents.

That's his cop-out! He just sounds plain lazy, which is his own doing/decision. Lots of parents don't push their kids and the kids have no problem holding down a job and being responsible. It's easier for him to blame his parents than to blame himself!

My sis set such high standards for boys they went overboard the other way. All three boys have been in jail and 2 of them went to prison.

That's what I mean! I know people who have experienced this too.

You just might get the opposite of what you are aiming for because of stress and resentment.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Some people can't do any better with their grades or their job for some unknown reason and punishment is unwarranted. Being smart doesn't have anything to do with it. The child has to have a desire to do better and that is not something you can instill in anyone.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Stargazer, believe me, not watching TV, playing vgs, and playing with friends 4 out out 7 days a week is not as bad as you may think. And I'm not just talking about the reaction from my children I'm also talking from experience. I grew up with the same rules and I didn't feel punished. I find it amazing that you would see a restriction as punishment. Wow! So what do you think about vegetarian diets, abstinence before marriage, etc. Are these restrictions punishments, too?


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

The restrictions you mention would be a personal decsion not one imposed on you by someone else. I think they should have some freedom after a day at school. Home work time should be set, but there should be play time also. I have a history of headaches, was hospitalized a couple of times, nothing stopped them until I play a video game. After a week or two they stopped, no more pain and the point of that is it's relaxing. Almost anything we enjoy is relaxing, music, movies and games. School can be as stressful for a child as a job is for an adult. You will have much better luck with rewarding him than denying everything he enjoys.

And for your information it has been proved that abstinence doesn't work. The studies show that young people who make that decision fail more often than other teens.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Khanda, I'll take that risk, thank you. I think any parent who doesn't set high standards for their children and encourage their kids to set high standards for themselves just shouldn't be a parent. That is a parent's job. Hopefully, that child will meet their full potential in whatever it is they choose to do in life. That is all I ask of my child -- that she not half-a** anything. As I tell her all the time, if you are going to do something strive to do your best, otherwise don't do it at all. This is precisely why this country is so far behind the rest of the world in education. We, as parents, have developed a fear of pushing our kids for fear that they may resent us or get stressed. It is also a parent's job to teach their child to cope with stress, because as we all know, stress is a part of life. I strongly believe by trying to make our kids think everything is easy that we are doing them a great disservice in life.

And btw, DD had an awesome week. She pushed herself at her sports and in school and the results were great, and not only were the adults proud of her, but she felt very good about herself and that her efforts paid off.

Stargazer, you said "Some people can't do any better with their grades or their job for some unknown reason and punishment is unwarranted." I don't buy this at all. Its a cop out. I believe that everyone who has the ability (that is to say has at least an average IQ) can do well at thier job and at school if they work hard enough at it and take ownership and pride in their work. And I think its a parent's job to at least try to instill that as a child. Its not easy, but being a parent is not easy. Let's not just say some people are born like that. I, personally, choose not to believe it.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Stargazer, when did I say or give the impression that my kids don't relax after school? Are TV and video games the only way to relax and have fun? Hmmm...

BTW, I'm not about to argue with you about whether or not abstinence work. That's for a totally different forum altogether. I was simply making a point that one's choice of lifestyle that differs from what is considered the "norm" is exactly that... a choice. It does not always equate to something negative.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

I havnt read many of the replies but i did read your post when it was first posted,and i thought exactly what statgazzer said,was quite shocked that your children arnt allowed no friends ,tv or anyhthing in the week,wow what a stressfull life they have got.I strongly disagree with punishing them for not getting grades you want,my bet is your kids will rebel in the future,its just not normal,children arnt children for long,how sad that when they are adults all their memories are of trying to please mum with grades,wheres the fun in there lives,my childhood memories are all happy ones.my parents never pushed me or my sister and we did just fine at school.give them a break


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

Part of me said to ignore your message since it did not appear credible, but I really wanted to find out...

What research supports your statement that children who are not allowed to do the aforementioned activities on a school day would rebel in the future? Please share.

My DH and I shared a good laugh after reading your statement since our experiences and others we know prove to be different. Like I've stated earlier, I (as well as my brothers and sisters- 7 of us total) grew up under that rule. We ALL went to college, three of us earned post graduate degrees, the other four opened their own businesses. Four of us who have children, continue to raise our kids with this very rule. Together, our kids (9 total) whose ages range from 6 to 24 are all doing very well in school/college, has never been in trouble, etc. I have a few colleagues and have met a few parents who raise their kids similar to this and so far, I haven't heard or seen anything negative about how their children have turned out.

I am speaking from experience, what are you speaking from? If your experience proves otherwise, then my sympathies. However, it has been working for my children and we will continue to do what WE feel is best for them.

You need to realize that every child, every family, every situation is different. If there was one surefire way to raise children, we wouldn't need this forum. Like you, I don't agree with some things that other parents do when raising their kids (especially in this day) but if it works for them, then great! I have always believed that when it comes to raising children, it really helps to keep an open mind-something you fail to do. Did you know that there are many kids raised in a household such as yours where they are not pushed, watch TV on a school day, etc and still rebel? Does that mean that their parents should have changed these practices? Maybe or maybe not. There may have been other external factors that caused them to rebel.

Contrary to what you believe, there is no ONE answer when it comes to raising kids. Please keep that in mind when posting "advice".


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

You need to realize that every child, every family, every situation is different.

Your rule would not have benefited my child because she's an only child. She needs socialization. When she was little, she played with friends every day after school for about an hour. Then it was supper, homework, etc. That play time gave her time to relax, unwind, clear her mind from the day's events at school. Time to be a child and do what SHE wanted to do as opposed to being told what she has to. Afterall, she's been told what to do all day at school.

I remember once when, at that time I was watching/kid sitting a neighbour friend's daughter after school for about a month, who was one grade lower than my daughter, she stated that she could never do what I did everyday after school. Have 5-6 kids over playing in our yard for an hour everyday after school. At times, I would make them treats like caramel apples. I loved it. So did the kids.

If I would have applied that rule to her, she would have become antisocial.

IMO, it's different when you have more than one child because they have their siblings to interact/socialize with. If they're into sports, then they have their teammates to interact/socialize with.


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My kids do pretty much what you have described except it's done on weekends. He is very popular and well liked by his peers at school and in our neighborhood. If he is not attending a party, going to the movies with friends, or visiting with friends at their houses, his friends are over at our house playing video games, swimming or they are all outside around the neighborhood enjoying themselves.

During the week when we are not at one of their sporting event or other extra curricular activity, we would play games, go swimming or tackle other family activities. It was through this that my son showed an interest so many things such as robotics, origami, art, computers -the list goes on.


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I'm curious--do you plan to keep those strict rules in force as your child enters jr and sr. high school? It won't be long, I'm afraid, before he will be left behind by his friends. Not being available to socialize with them more than half the week may not bother him at the moment, but sooner or later, the 'guys' are going to stop including the parttime pal who isn't allowed to do stuff with them during the week. And yes, a child who ends up being isolated like that by his parents is definitely going to rebel eventually. Thing is, as a parent, some of the worst parents (and I'm NOT saying you're the worst, I'm just making a point here)--THINK they're some of the best out there. It's really hard, sometimes, for a parent to take a step back and see how damaging their rules are to their children.

As I said, I'm both a parent and a teacher (for over 35 years). I wasn't perfect at either job--who is?--but I do have a little more experience than a lot of folks. I can assure you--unless you live in a very unusual community where NO ONE lets their kids hang out during the week, your child is going to end up being the odd many out, and he's going to blame you. Part of every child's education SHOULD be learning to socialize with their peers, learning time management (you're not giving him the chance to make the kinds of mistakes now that will help him learn that by experience). When you create such a structured schedule, he's not learning how to do that for himself--the person who said that kind of child gets to college and can't handle the freedom or the responsibility is right on. Look, it's just not possible for a parent to head off every mistake a child can make--and truth be told, some of the most effective lessons any of us learn are when we've been allowed to make the mistake that teaches us the lesson. You're obviously a good parent. Be a GREAT one and let your child have the freedom to make a few mistakes for himself.

Please, for your child's sake, cut him a little slack. There's nothing at all wrong with allowing him to have an hour or two in the afternoon to play with his friends. And all children need a good, active play period after school--it's vital for health and clears the brain so they can do their best on their homework when they sit down to do it. I'm begging on behalf of your son--please rethink your position, and give him a normal childhood. You will both benefit, I promise you.


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I'll put it simply but kindly: Focus on managing your household and let me focus on mine. Otherwise, if it's not related to the original matter at hand, you can refer to this or any of my latest posts.


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very well said azzalea,you are right although i dont think the op gives a monkeys about her kids feelings as long as they have good grades is obviously all that matters ,altough i have to disagree with you when you say she is a good parent,I dont think so,I would like to know does your children get kisses and cuddles atall or just on weekends.


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The posts on this thread are getting more than a little smug. Because lisonwal doesn't let her child play outside on school nights she is a bad parent who doesn't cuddle and kiss her child? How ridiculous! You do not know her circumstances. I live in an area where 95% of the kids do not play outside after school for whatever reason. Does that mean that 95% of the parents are bad? Or that 95% of the kids are having an abnormal childhood? I'm probably younger than most of you and I did not play outside most days afterschool and I turned out just fine. Most of my friends didn't either. Get a grip people, please.


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It's just sad and amazing the things people can say when they are hiding behind a screen.


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I've pretty much been following the entire thread and was fine with the comments until the lasest post by Tracystoke. I agree with Mariealways-it was not done tastefully at all. Lisonwall's practice do not show that she is a bad parent. IMO, its just different. I live in a neighborhood where the Asians families do not send their children outside to play at all.


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For those who are interested...

On CBC Morning News Sunday, they had a report on first year university students. Three people were on the panel (excluding the host of the show): a high school principal from a prestigious high school in Toronto, a University of Toronto psychology professor, and a child and family therapist.

Here are some quick facts that they pointed out:

- high school students are not penalized for handing in reports late
- high school students slack off at beginning of semester and then cram to bring up their marks at the end of semester

University professor stated that first year university students get a reality check. A lot of high school A students become university C students because of several reasons:

- in university, you have to be on top of your work load... reading, notes, etc. You can't "catch up" at end of semester like they did in high school

- students no longer have their parents pushing them to hand in reports on time, do homework, etc.

- in university, you get consequences for missing deadlines, unlike in high school

- important for students to learn time management and organizational skills

Family therapist stated:

- parents must let their children "fall" on their own regarding their school work/grades, especially in high school, in order for them to learn self-discipline and self-confidence.

- a child whose parents are always helping them by helping them do their homework, pushing them to get good grades, study for tests, etc., will have a hard time in university because their parents are not there anymore to do all that. They feel lost! Parents do this because they love their child but are actually doing more harm.

- important for a child to do things on their own regarding their studies. If they fail a test, it's up to them to discipline themselves to do better. University students need a lot of self-discipline and self-confidence to do well, as they are on their own now and responsible for their own actions.


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khandi, that has been my philosophy so far: let the kids take care of their own schoolwork. I generally only help them if they have a specific question, or don't understand the instructions, etc.

How far do you let it go, though? My son (6th grade) is failing two classes! It's not that the work is too hard (for example, he is getting a C in math, despite having the highest score in his grade on our state standardized test). I want to let him find his own way, but don't want him to miss out on learning core concepts in the meantime.


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I think some of you are missing a very important point, one that is crucial to this discussion.

Lisonwal's son is very bright. He can manage to get good grades with minimal effort. Even if he continues his current behavior...he will continue to get good grades! So the idea of letting him "fall" on his own in order to learn self-discipline WILL NOT WORK for Lisonwal's son, because he will NOT fall - at least not far enough to make a substantial dent in his grades. As long as he can pull A's and B's, the teachers will consider him to be doing "just fine". The problem is, this will catch up to him eventually.

Khandi, your news report states that parents must let their children fail and experience the consequences in order to succeed in university. It also says that high school students are NOT punished for handing in late assignments and are able to slack off in the beginning of the semester and make up for it later. Please explain to me then, where are the consequences? None from the parents and none from the school means kids like Lisonwal's son get by on their brains until they hit university. THAT is when they fail.

Sure, there are plenty of high school kids who would fail without guidance and help from their parents, but Lisonwals son is not one of them. Thats the difference.

Lisonwal, I have been there. I was exactly like your son. High IQ, very social, very involved in sports, clubsyou name it. My parents had a set of expectations, but they never got involved in my schoolwork. Because the grades I brought home were good enough (80s and 90s), they never concerned themselves with my work habits. And I had terrible work habits. I did exactly as described aboveprocrastinated on my assignments, crammed for exams.and came out just fine.

In my county, one graduating senior was chosen from each high school and honored with an award for all-around excellence. That student was me. I was in student government, sports, choir, several clubs, and volunteered in the community. I was also class valedictorian. Why am I telling you all this? Because looks can be deceiving. By all accounts, I was on my way to a very successful life. What I found was that I was ill-prepared for life beyond high school.

When I entered university, I was in for a complete shock. I realized too late into my first year that I had to make some serious changes in my work habits, and got very low grades in a couple of my courses (50s and 60s). It wasnt until my THIRD year that I was really able to adapt and pull my grades up to where they should have been (and could easily have been, had I been more disciplined and organized going in). But because of my poor performance in my first two years, my overall average came out dismally low. I was capable of graduating with high honors, and I didnt even achieve honors. That was 10 years ago, and I still hate myself for it.

I dont blame my parents because they didnt know better, but I will not let the same thing happen to my children. You are right to be concerned. A child in the 6th grade, or even in high school, cannot comprehend the depth of value of time management skills right now. They will be invaluble later on, when brains are not enough. Help him learn these skills, even if he doesnt "need" them yet to achieve decent grades. He WILL need them later and he wiill thank you for it.

PS I commend you on implementing some structure and rules in your householdyou sound like a close family with very happy, well-adjusted kids!


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Khandi, your news report states that parents must let their children fail and experience the consequences in order to succeed in university.

Parents must let their children FALL, not fail. Meaning if their work/grades are not always up to par, it's up to the child to do better through self-discipline not because the parent is pushing/punishing them to do better.

It also says that high school students are NOT punished for handing in late assignments and are able to slack off in the beginning of the semester and make up for it later. Please explain to me then, where are the consequences?

That's the point! In high school, at least here, there are no consequences for handing in late assignements; therefore, students do the same in university not realizing that things are different in university... there are consequences!

None from the parents and none from the school means kids like Lisonwal's son get by on their brains until they hit university. THAT is when they fail.

Because there are no consequences in high school for handing in assignments on time, it's upsetting for those students who do make the effort to ensure that they meet the deadline. They have good work habits, organization, self-discipline... yet those who slack off and hand in assignments late get to have the same grade as those who didn't. They don't get penalized for it. In my day, we got marks taken off for every day that the assignement was late.

You see... years ago, you needed grade 13 to go on to university, grade 12 for college. The government eliminated grade 13 and expanded the curriculum. Also something about lowering the dropout rates, etc., they changed the grading procedures or something. It's my guess that's why there's no consequences... not a good thing!

Help him learn these skills, even if he doesnt "need" them yet to achieve decent grades. He WILL need them later and he wiill thank you for it.

Exactly, but what the therapist is saying is that once they are in high school, let them learn it on their own without a parent's constant reminder because you won't be their to remind them all the time when the child is in university. They need to learn time management/organization BEFORE university. Teach them in elementary and then let them exercise it in high school.

When my daughter was elementary school, I was there to help her with her homework, making sure she was on top of her work, etc. Did the same for her first 2 years of high school. Now, I don't bother. I have to keep reminding myself NOT to get involved in her homework (if it's being done, etc.) because it's up to her to do it...not me! She'll see the consequences of her actions for herself, knowing it was her own decisions that brought her to this place or that place, not because of me.

Our family therapist told us last year when parents are too strict with their teenagers, once those teenagers are in college/university, they go wild! A good number of them get caught up in drinking/drugs/partying, etc., which is why she has several patients who are university students.

My daughter was a student who handed in her assignments on time and would get pissed off when students who handed theirs in late would get same grading as her without consequences. She'd often say "why bother then?". I'd explain why, telling her that those students are gonna learn the hard way later on.

Just last week in school, my daughter was saying how most of the students in her 12th grade history class (she's in 11th grade) didn't know how to take notes while watching a film/movie. The teacher had the students watch a film/movie and take notes. Daughter said they kids didn't know what to write while she was writing down whole bunch of stuff, so the teacher stopped the film and got the books out instead. My daughter's comment was "how are they going to take notes in university?"


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That thing about being allowed to turn in assignments late is not some sort of national policy. That's up to a local district of even individual school to make late work policies. My sophomore would not be allowed to turn an assignment in late. It just would not be accepted by the teachers. He is in a public school and only one class is honors. Unless he has an excused absense, his teachers would give him a 0 and say too late. My 6th grader would get only partial credit. Even my 3rd grader's teacher would take off points for a late assignment. My 1st grader's teacher moves his marker on the behavior chart if he doesn't turn in homework when it is due (the next day). Even if we just forgot to put the folder in his backback, he will come home with a mark in his agenda and his teacher will tell him "It's not your mom's homework folder, it's yours to remember."

My kids' schools take due dates seriously.


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Thank you a million times over for your post, gumbosoup. I have seen versions of your experience played out over and over. I went to a seminar on gifted kids and the counselor stated that some gifted kids are substantially more at risk for dropping out in college than the average college student because they've never had to develop good work habits because schoolwork has always been easy for them.

In my opinion, if the elementary, middle, and high schools don't set the bar high enough for gifted students and there are no consequences if they don't do their reasonable best, then it's up to the parent to set the bar and ensure there are consequences for failing to meet the standards. At some point, some gifted students need to fall before they enter college - they need to experience some consequences if they don't get their work done to a satisfactory standard. Kids of average intelligence face this situation every day - if they don't try, they fail and they see consequences. Gifted kids see that they can just barely put for a little bit of effort and still do better than most everyone in their class, and that is not a good situation.

On the one hand, I see many posters' point about kids handling their own work. On the other hand, we don't do that with many other aspects of their lives - we require them to mow the grass, take showers, brush their teeth, clean the moldy dirty dishes from their rooms and wear clean clothes. Why is homework any different?

Khandi made this point Exactly, but what the therapist is saying is that once they are in high school, let them learn it on their own without a parent's constant reminder. Kandi, I think the original poster's son is in 6th grade. That's actually closer to elementary school than high school. 6th grade is prime time (in my opinion) for parents to step in and help if organizational skills are lacking.


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A child in the 6th grade, or even in high school, cannot comprehend the depth of value of time management skills right now.

Gumbosoup, thanks for the feedback. Your statement is such a true one. As adults looking back we can definitely relate. Like you, I don't want to regret doing what I should have done and have my son paying the price later.

At my son's conference earlier this school year, his teachers and counselor stated that most 6th grade students take a while to transition from elementary to middle school, ie. switching classes, changing teacher, more freedom etc. and they still need guidance. They suggested that I assist him as needed particularly with his organizational skills. Unfortunately, not everyone comes equipped with organizational skills and some have to be taught this.


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RE: To Punish or Not to Punish

I'm glad to help :) Good luck with everything!


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