Sunday, January 1, 2012

When Discipline Backfires

Our dog appears to be searching the wreckage for survivors.

One brilliant way that we learned to get our spacey youngest child to clean up his crap is to institute a system called "the Sweep". Perhaps you have tried this. If not, here is how you do it:

  1. Tell your child to clean up. Make it clear you mean business.
  2. Let a reasonable (or totally unreasonable) period of time elapse while they are supposed to be cleaning but are actually taking apart individual Legos with tweezers.
  3. Notice that they have not cleaned up.
  4. Put all of the not-cleaned-up toys in a garbage bag and take them away. (You can choose to do this with or without an element of emotional abuse by a) saying that you may give these toys to an impoverished little boy who is not an asshole, or by b) simply removing the bag and holding the toys out of your child's reach while placing them up high, with a look of compassionate but firm sadism resolve.)
  5. Forget that you have taken these items away and then introduce them months later, when they are like Christmas presents again. Perhaps you could even use them as Christmas presents, if you keep them long enough, or if your child has short-term memory loss (perhaps due to beatings heredity.)
Today, this method backfired for us. Sitting in what looked like the epicenter of a major building toy explosion in the eye of our living room, and having been told to clean up, he tells us:

"Ummm, I don't really care for any of these things."

Me: "What?"

Mikalh: "I don't really care for any of these toys, so, ummm, you can just take them away."

And that's what none of the parenting books deal with.


  1. OMG!!! Little red did this to us when she was THREE (she's 13 now)!! I will never forget how infuriated I was when that little treasure backfired. The upside is that now you don't even have to threaten.. just take your little friend Mr. Hefty and clean house.

  2. That's hilarious! At least you can donate/throw some of those away if he really does not want them anymore.

  3. Hilarious! I love it. When my daughter was 4 we moved from my parents to our own apartment. We'd been there a week and she didn't care for the new head of household (me, LOL). I told her it was time to clean up and she said, "Okay. Call Grandma to come help."
    Found you through BlogHer NaBloPoMo. I'll be visiting again!

  4. That's the best thing I've read this morning! I think my daughter must be cut from the same cloth. I want to try this, if only to excerise my sadist muscles a little bit. Thanks for the laugh!
    I also foundnyou through NaBoPloMo and will be stalking you as well.

  5. Thanks to all of you for the stalking! It is nice that I have gotten to place in my life where being stalked is a good thing.

    Kids are great. My favorite part was his use of "I don't care for..." Sounds so upper-crust.

  6. That is completely hilarious! My mum used to do the take it away and re-introduce it thing... but we were on to her. We used to start sneaking our toys out of the bag that she "hid" in the basement the very next day. I do it too, but my kids don't buy it either. I have even said I'd give them to kids who would take care of them properly and so would deserve them. I think the "a-hole" was implied.

    1. Apparently, my child has too many toys so the idea of losing a large quantity of them to more deserving children doesn't bother him either.

  7. So are you going to make him bag them up for donating to charity? I mean, it isn't fun to pick up a bazillion pieces of legos or whatever. Maybe you could use a shop vac LOL I bet he'll miss them later when he's board.

  8. So far we've never actually gone so far as to give them away, only threaten to. I guess we are threat people more than actually consequence people. Hey, maybe that's what's up with the discipline problem... ;)


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