I was reading Entertainment Weekly’s recap of Sunday night’s “Kate Plus 8” when I came across a very interesting parenting concept – punitive parenting.
Reviewer Ken Tucker was describing how Kate was having some farmers and the kids build a chicken coop so they could produce their own eggs. But of course things went awry.
Tucker says: “What started as a nice family project turned into a punitive exercise, as do so many things involving Kate’s parenting.”
“’Showing the kids the area of the coop that will be ‘filled with chicken poop to be scooped,’ she announced to her brood, ‘Whoever disobeys will be assigned with this chore!’ ”
I do feel like things that I think will be fun often turn into a forced march with my kids and then you get ugly about it. For example, I have been having to force Walsh to go swimming lately. Most kids would kill to go swimming and this kid doesn’t want to. It starts out me happily saying “Ok we’re going swimming.” Two kids on board but not Walsh. So then I try to convince him it will be fun. And then quickly it becomes you have no choice in the matter and you will either sit by the pool or swim. He generally chooses swim then.
Another example, about two weeks ago I took them to a science museum. You would have thought it was the Trail of Tears just trying to take them to an interesting educational place. So instead of being family fun, it’s mom forcing them to do something.
I have made an effort in the last few weeks to try to catch them doing good things and praise them for all the good stuff, but I know I often shift to punitive parenting when they are not cooperative. What are your other options?
So what do you think: Are you a punitive parent? Do you turn things that you think should be family fun into punishment when they don’t want to play along? What are you other options when they don’t want to do what you want them to do?