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Categories: Parenting

One of the oldest (and most effective) discipline techniques for experienced parents is the

      I have deployed this genius move against all four of my children, two boys and two girls, now spanning in age from five to 16.  They all have loved different things at different times in their lives, and I have adjusted my tactics for threats and punishments to suit my own selfish needs.

“If you take your diaper off one more time I won’t read Goodnight Moon tonight.  That will break our record of 278 nights in a row.  You’ll be sorry.”

“Stop waving your dirty underpants in front of your sister’s face or Mr. Twitchy will be turned over to the Stuffed Animal Recycling Plant & Sawdust Factory.”

“Clean up your room or we won’t go to Lululemon today.  And it’s the last day of their blow out sale.”

“Learn to wipe your own bum or you won’t be allowed to wear your favourite army shorts for the 5th day in a row.”

“Air out your cheesy hockey equipment Mr. Big Teenager or I’ll take over your MSN Messenger account and tell all your friends you’re “offline due to the Zach and Cody marathon on TV.”

          Currently I am able to utilize the crack-like addiction to Webkinz that both my eight year old daughter and five year old son have developed.  It appeals to my sense of efficiency and time management when there are two of them for whom the same punishment and reward system comes into play.  Somehow threatening my 16 year old daughter with missing the Calgary Flames hockey game or revoking the right to share my sweaters with my 14 year old son doesn’t seem to have the same complementary effect.

          While plotting my latest parental punishment (besides the meat loaf for dinner tonight), I started thinking about ways in which this “Love it?  Earn it” strategy might work for both me, and my husband (besides the obvious sex for housework trade off).  For me, it would be fantastic if I could find a way to punish myself by taking away white wine, trashy magazines, back-stabbing gossip sessions and pedicures (all things which make my life worthwhile), if I ever transgress by drinking too much, wasting time, saying hurtful things, or indulging in pampering myself one time too many that month.  I think you see the correlation.  For me, the things that I love the most are the very things that I sometimes should be punished for doing too much of.  I think that the men face a similar challenge in that they can’t live without Home Depot visits, beach shots of Jessica Biehl and Eva Longoria, locking themselves in the bathroom for 45 minutes, or commenting on the exorbitant Visa bill.  Their punishments, then, would be taking away the 47th power tool they’ve just added to their overflowing collection, replacing their “Maxim” subscription with “Bankers Monthly”, a timed spring lock which propels young children into the washroom after five minutes (as happens with us sucker Moms who don’t bother to even lock the door), and advising the bank to skip the paper notice of the credit card bill and to automatically deduct the amount (with no detailed transaction records revealed) from their bank accounts.  I think this could work. 

          Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I just saw a gleam in my teenage son’s eye when the girl from next door walked by…time for a joint strategic planning session with her Mom.


          Kathy Buckworth’s latest book, “Journey to the Darkside” is available at bookstores everywhere.  Watch Kathy on Life Network’s “Birth Days”, Sunday nights at 10:00 EST, and visit  Funny Mummy appears monthly.