Punishment... I Think I Messed Up....

Updated on April 29, 2011
R.D. asks from Richmond, VA
27 answers

My 5 year old was caught swiping Easter candy, hiding the wrappers, and then she LIED about it.... so she's grounded this weekend. No TV, no friends, no fun. My 7 year old (RIGHT after her sister got in trouble) colored on her bedsheets (which yes was stupid, but I'm actually kind of impressed because she was making 'printed sheets' instead of plain... totally creative, but not on my dime! She's always doing artsy stuff like this, but it usually destroys something.) Anyway, she's grounded too.

They're really, REALLY good girls, this stuff was just dumb so for the first time ever, they're grounded so I can prove a point, the point being negative behavior (especially the LYING, that's what I'm soooo disappointed about).

BUT... this is where I may have messed up. My fiances birthday is Saturday. All our friends will be there with their kids. I mean, what do I do? Make them sit next to me the entire time? Give a temporary reprieve JUST for the birthday cookout? I always stick by my guns, and I'm all about some tough love, but this seems really extreme, even for me, if they can't run around with the other kids for the 2 hours we'll be together.

Can I update the punishment, make them each write 'I'm sorry, I won't do 'x' again because it's naughty' or something, like 20 times each, so they earn the play time? What would YOU do?

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answers from Oklahoma City on

LOL this question makes me laugh because I remember being in SO much trouble and having something REALLY fun coming up! My mom would make us think we weren't going to be able to go to whatever it was but since she really had no other choice she'd tell us at the very last minute that we could but that "we were STILL in trouble"! We always still felt REALLY bad for what we had done and I never remember thinking that I had "gotten out" of bieng punished but we still had fun at whatever the thing was we got to go to. :o)
Good Luck! I hope you find something that works for ya'll!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

For us, family activities aren't included in punishments, unless its to amuzement parks, movies, etc.

Go to the party. When playing with the kids they'll have to ask you first, but then the punishment gets put back on track after the party.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Yeah I'd just sit them down and tell them I forgot about the party but they are still grounded. Just let them go to the party and have a good time, then after the party, right back to the grounding regimen. I wouldn't have them miss the party bc as you said this is a family thing, in fact I think they should be expected to be there. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Topeka on

OHHH honey this is why we think ahead before us parents dish out punishments..She is 5 yrs old eating candy when she wasn't suppose to then hiding the wrappers then lied about it to me for my punisihment (which I have done)is to throw away the candy.You gave her 3 punishments 1 for each thing she did for a 5 yr old & now your not happy about the decision you made.Now for the 7 yr old she colored on bed sheets an explanation to why that isn't appropriate your upset & have her strip the bed,tke them to the washer show her how to load them in begin the wash afterwards to the dryer,then remaking the bed that would of been my punishment.It is punishments that fit the behavior.
Talk to them soon let them know that lying isn't a good choice,& drawing on things that aren't to be drawn on isn't going to be accepted let them know how you feel then let them speak tell them about the party that they will be allowed to play wioth the other kids but their punishments will still remain for the rest of the weekend

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

What did you ground them from? Fun? That's not possible. When you ground make it very specific. You are grounded from your tv. Not just randomly grounded. You can't cancel fun. Kids will have fun with a cardboard box. I see no problem with clarifying this with them. That's an important lesson to teach too. "Your father and I discussed it and we are choosing to ammend your punishment. We have decided you will be on restriction from all electronics, no tv, computer, telephone. There will be no friends over, other than for the bbq of course. If all goes well and you follow the rules, you will be off restriction on Tuesday" or whatever.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Grounding is a last resort here. It just doesn't work and ends up being a hassle for me. ]:)

Instead, we remove privileges that have a chance to be earned back and we have natural consequences.

So for instance, when my lactose intolerant child once ate some milk chocolate and then lied about it, I didn't punish her because her punishment was stomach cramps and diarrhea for 24 hours. I didn't have to do a thing and she hasn't touched chocolate that isn't safe ever since. Natural consequence.

When it comes to the sheets, your 7 year old can now learn how to wash a load of sheets. Walk her through the whole thing. And now her bed has to use those sheets even if the crayon or marker or whatever she used even if it won't wash out completely and they look ugly. They are now HER sheets. See? Natural consequence.

Your 5 year old must throw away her own garbage, and her tummy probably didn't feel too good after eating all of that chocolate.

What I'd do now is sit with both of your girls and have a frank talk about lying. Let them know that telling the truth is always better than lying even if they think they'll get in trouble. I always tell my girls that they'll get in less trouble if they tell the truth, and sometimes they might not actually get in trouble at all because what they lie about isn't worth lying about to begin with. It's the lying itself that gets them in trouble.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I would tell them if they toe the line today and in the morning then they can go to the party, but that the rest of the punishment still stands. That way you get very well behaved kids while you are preparing for the party, and you are still sticking to your guns. Why not use it to your benefit? :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

Actually-as children, we would have been sitting in our rooms for the duration of the party.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Here is the thing with the birthday party, you will be punishing the other kids by continuing the punishment during the party. Those kids are looking forward to the birthday party and playing with them. It is unfair to make them suffer for their bad behavior. At least this is the logic I always used on my kids when their grounding fell on an event like a family birthday.

I hate lying!!! We have punishments for specific behavior, that punishment is doubled, no discussion, if I find out they lied to cover it up. If they did something and fessed up before I even find out the punishment is cut in half. I have raised some really honest kids doing this.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You aren't the first parent who got themselves into a pickle like this.:)

I try to make the consequence relevant to the actions that needed correction. Your five year old lied because she knew she was getting into trouble for sneaking candy. I think my response would have been "No sweets for you for X amount of time." and a discussion about how not telling the truth damages your trust in her, and this has a great consequence: she should have to spend the day playing within *your* sightlines, wherever you need to be (except the bathroom,unless you are cleaning it) and spend their day next to you: when you do laundry, she would have to be in the laundry room with you; when you cook, she would have to stay in the kitchen, etc. She doesn't get the fun of doing things "with" you, but must stay in sight. My sister did this with her son and his conclusion was "Mom's really boring and I want her to trust me again."

When it comes to writing on her sheets, your older daughter would either need to buy new sheets out of her 'fun' money (does she receive an allowance? For the near future, half of her weekly allowance could go to repaying you for the replacement of damaged property.) The other option would be that she would have to 'live with it' until you were ready to buy new sheets again, whenever that is. Personally, I'd have her replace the item because you don't want to have a reminder that coloring on the sheets is tolerated.

Or a third option would be to hire a babysitter during the party and let them be in one part of the house-- no fun, no tv-- and tell them they must stay there. Here's the thing-- you made an impression with the grounding, but it isn't relevant to what they *did*. Writing something 20 times isn't always helpful, either, esp. for a 5 year old.

If it were me, I'd have a discussion with the girls; let them know that you picked the wrong punishment (but not why you feel it's not going to work-- don't undermine yourself by explaining this to them) and that you've thought it over and This New Plan (whatever you decide to be the consequence) is what's going to happen. Be clear that they don't get to 'go back' to the grounding because they don't like the newer consequences, you are the parent and you are not "negotiating" a consequence for them. I think you might find that the consequences I suggested will make more of an impression on them, too. And no, I would not set a precedent of letting them 'earn' their way back out of the punishment you suggested. If it were me, I'd realize that I had likely been angry when these things happened, had acted hastily, and should just change it from a punishment to a consequence instead of providing loopholes which, in real life, don't usually exist with punishments.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

When I want to minimally punish my daughter - it's no TV for 2 days. When I want to REALLY punish her, it's no computer. She only gets computer time on the weekends and is something she looks forward to every weekend. She's almost 6 y/o.

I see grounding as something that easily backfires and causes regrets. Why not alter it to grounding all days expect the hours of the party... then take away a short term activity or game they do?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Walton Beach on

Could you just leave it at grounded from TV?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Being there done that, don't you just wish was a time machine? Then again if we had one I probably would use it to hide the chocolate better and open the door just before the older make her "art", lol.
Well, I think you could either offer them to change the punishment for something else.
Talk to them and explain that you don't want to upset your fiance in his party so you will let go the punishment that day.

Anyway, I think the 3 of you just learn something, to not lie about the eating candy, to no draw in the sheets and to make sure your punishment doesn't mess up with other activities, lol.

Have fun at the party.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Johnstown on

Don't change the punishment. If you do it now, they'll think they'll get that every time. You can give them an exception for Sat., but then right back to the punishment the rest of the week. My parents would have locked me in my room and told me I had to stay there. (And just FYI, next week IS "turn off the tv week" anyway--including all electronics ;-) )

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

Maybe you could give them a choice... they can enjoy 1/2 of the party (let them sit in their rooms for the first half) if they want to be grounded an extra week... OR they can sit in their rooms the entire party, and the punishment you already implemented stands.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I think you should sit down with each of them separately, and explain what's going on this weekend, and that because of it, you are rethinking their punishments. You might even be able to ask them to come up with alternative punishments. Or, give them the choice of staying in their rooms for the weekend, with no toys, etc. I personally think that the 7yo should help you do laundry (make her hand scrub the sheets in the bathtub, and take the $ for replacing the sheets out of her allowance, maybe; also have her help do the laundry for the next week--she can definitely sort the dirty laundry by color(s) and help fold it).

On a separate, but related note, I think you should sit down w/ the 5yo and tell her that her lying makes you MORE unhappy than the fact that she took the candy. And that telling the truth makes you HAPPY. Another mom, on another thread on lying, posted this, and it is really astounding; it's a bit long, but boy, it will make you rethink how you handle lying! -- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1122....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I would give them a reprieve for the 2 hours of the party, then right back to being grounded.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I do not use grounding at all, it has always back fired onme, or ended punish for me. Writing was usually affective for us. And I try to use the offense as a way to choose punishment. The candy incident, the rest would go bye bye. For the sheets, I would have her help clean them. My son used to climb up my walls, well the door ways, so after a few times of washing them, and the rest in the house he stopped climbing. I also find as they get a bit older, that just talking can be affective. Explaining why you are upset.

And don't be afraid to admit to them when you have made a mistake. And discuss with them what you all can do to right them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I understand about the lying and about wanting to be consistant and take your punishments seriously, but your punishment was way over the top and completely in appropriate for their age. Taking away tv for one evening for a 7 year old, maybe. Taking away some of her Easter candy for the 5 year old, maybe. I just think you went completely overboard to begin with.

Seriously, talk to each girl about why you are disapointed in their behavior and what you expect from them. Take away one thing for each of them to make your point, then let it go and enjoy the party. When you make your punishments more than is reasonable, you actually encourage bad behavior. What is going to happen when they do things that are so much worse? Rather than relying on the punishment to teach them what they shouldn't do, talk to them about what they can and should do. Punishment is not nearly as effective as good communication and positive reinforcement.



answers from Harrisburg on

For a 5yr old, the fact that you reprimanded her right there and then is enough punishment. She NOW knows you are strongly against lying and needs to be told the consequences IF she does it again. If this was a one time thing, then leave it at that. Set her free, because I am sure she might try to do it again. Then the next time around is when you punish for disobeying the law.

For the artsy one, you are just trying to teach her to respect your things and if she was not aware that writing on sheets were off limits, how else would she have known you would get angry. So take it as a loss, tell her don't do it on sheet again and let it go. Now if after she KNOWS the rules about sheets and THEN do it a second time, that is when you enforce the law (but in her mind there was no law before that she disobeyed, so hang up her art work, get a new sheet and let her know that is not acceptable)

Let them go to the party and enjoy themselves.

PS: It's just recently my sons were playing in the closets and tore down the hangers with the clothes. I was upset, made sure they knew it, (but I know they were just playing), so I slapped their butts each, and sent them to their rooms. 30 mins later they are back out of the room and playing as normal. Lesson learned.


answers from Los Angeles on

Its okay to modify the punishment rather than "stick to your guns". The point is to make them regret their behavior, not hate you as a tyrannical mother. Not that you are in any way, just making a point. Yes, modify as needed.


answers from Stockton on

I would give them the option of doing some cleaning/yardwork or something for 2 hours either Saturday before the party or Sunday after the party (YOU choose the time that is best for you, I usually choose before the event, but that may be difficult for you since you are probably going to have to set up and get ready for it or whatever....) and they have the option to do the work and play at the party or not do the work and sit down at the party. My kids always choose to do the work - LOL.



answers from Los Angeles on

I think you should make an exception; it is your fiance's birthday party, after all. Just for the cookout, and then resume the punishment. They will understand that it was only for a birthday party, and still lose their privileges for the rest of the time.


answers from Spokane on

That's a really hard one. That's why it's so important to stop and think before deciding on a punishment because so many extraneous details come into play and it can be hard to stick to your guns. I've learned this the hard way. I also don't really believe in grounding. They don't really learn anything. They just have the time to sit and hate you, not really think about the reason they're in there is their fault to begin with.

When it comes to the lieing & stealing, that's really big. Those are two of the worst. For that, she should have written an apology, pay the person she swiped it from (was it her sister or something?) and then you sit down and talk to her about it asking what else she could do to make up for such a major transgression. So for instance since you've already grounded her, you could talk to her about else she could do instead so she could go to your fiances party. This is where I would really heap on the chores and loss of privileges.

As for the drawing on the sheets? I consider that piddly stuff. If they were "her" sheets, bought specifically for her use, I don't really see the big deal. It doesn't really ruin them and she's the one that has to put up with them. However, if they were bought for general use and not just hers, than she shouldn't have done it. I would have been more upset if she'd drawn on the walls or something. Can you tell I have an artist for a daughter? We've had to do some major compromising or I would have throttled her by now. I would have her write an apology letter and again, discuss what else she could do to make up for it, such as paying you for the sheets and maybe do all the laundry for a week or something (she's certainly old enough for that one). I wouldn't push it too much over this one, especially since this is a first offense.


answers from Dover on

I'm with Megan C. on the whole family gatherings are not included in punishments. We have definitely grounded my daughter & told her no dessert for 2 weeks or whatever, but if it is her brother's birthday for example, she is still allowed a piece of cake. Stick with your grounding because you don't want to change it after the fact, but let them hang out at the party. If it makes you feel better you can tack a day on the end & let them know the reason why.


answers from Biloxi on

Hi R.,

I have done that - grounded my son only to realize later that there was something that either I really wanted to do, or we both were supposed to attend. So, I gave him a reprieve for that specific event only, but made it very clear that he was still grounded at home.

I think lying and destroying bed sheets are egregious enough to warrant grounding. But, it will be very hard to keep them grounded at the party - plus you will be punishing yourself, and everyone around you, also. I think lying and destroying bed sheets are egregious enough to warrant grounding. So you may want to give them a reprieve and modify what grounding means in this case.

In my house grounding is a cessation of privileges - i.e., electronics - and increase in household chores - he gets to do my laundry in addition to his regular chores, etc. He is 14 now, and this has been my rules since he entered elementary school. It works for us - plus I get to watch him do some of my housework....always a bonus. LOL

Good Luck and God Bless



answers from Boston on

I don't think you should ever take back or change a punishment it sends the wrong message. If it were me I'd be staying home with them.

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