Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The threat of punishment

I have written before about the use of a laid out path of escalating punishments (especially ironic ones) to elicit quick attention. The idea is to dole out easy punishments with a threat of increasingly costly ones if behaviour isn't correct.

Today I can report a 'success' with this strategy with my 7 year old son. This time he left his coat at school. He does this because it is cold in the mornings and not in the afternoons. He then forgot to find his coat the next day. So the punishment path was simple, if he didn't bring his coat back today, he would be forced to wear one of his sister's hand-me-downs. This would be one of the ones she had been given but had considered too 'girly' to wear. We selected the coat and he tried it on for size.

Anyhow, he saw the path ahead and made a pre-pitch against it. He argued to me that it would be unfair on the other kids at school. Why? Because they would tease him and then they would get in trouble!

Quite an argument and very selfless. Anyhow, I said that was their problem and the threat stayed. And what do you know, the coat returned home today. Ta da!