Are you a frustrated parent with children dodging your directions and discipline? If so, there are those who think you might benefit from the parenting tips of Lisa Whelchel, known for playing "Blair Warner" on the '80s sitcom Facts of Life and author of Creative Correction, a parenting book which inspired a cut-and-pasted summary called "Creative Consequences." Contrary to others' recommendations, four parents with a combined 80 years of parenting experience take issue with most of Ms. Whelchel's tips even in light of her 22 years of experience and her fans affectionately referring to her as an "expert."
Snarky and sometimes helpful commentary is herein provided by Gary, the father of two adult daughters and grandfather of a whole bunch; Janet, who has two daughters, one tween and one teenager; Terri, the mother of two teenaged sons and an adult daughter; and myself (Diana), the mother of a teenage daughter, an adult daughter, and an adult son.
Ms. Whelchel says: Make a homemade "Correction" can and fill it with tickets or slips of paper with various consequences written on them. Instead of giving your child a time-out, send her to the can for a slip. Toss in a blank piece of paper, a "mercy" ticket. This gives you an opportunity to talk about how God gives us mercy even when we deserve punishment.
Janet: Toss in a "damnation" ticket while you're at it. That will give the kid something to really think about.
Gary: There should be "Correction" cans for each family member as a sign of equity and fairness. Include things like a romantic dinner out (with/without a husband/wife), shopping trip without grumbling, manicure for the husband (it'll confuse him as to whether it is a punishment or something he should like), or no "evil eyes" on the daughter's long-haired boyfriend for the next five dates.
Diana: By all means allow this to unfold: Johnny colors on the wall with crayons. The "Correction" can sends him to bed, which coincidentally sits next to another wall, which he then colors with the crayons from his backpack. Sorry, Ms. Whelchel, correction only works if there's a connection between behavior and consequence.
If time-outs don't work, try a "time-in." This can be accomplished by sending your child to a designated spot where he must complete a task that has a definite beginning and end. This could be putting together a small puzzle, stringing 50 beads on a piece of yarn, or tracing the alphabet. A time-in diverts his energies and encourages him to focus on something positive.
Diana: If I had used crafty tasks to discipline my child at home, I'm pretty sure I would've received a few phone calls from teachers saying my kid either seized up at the mere sight of yarn or fell to the floor in tears eking out, "But what did I do?!" when the teacher broke out the beads.