Monday, February 20, 2012

Crime & Punishment

First off, the book Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky is amazing.  Yes, it has its dark moments and depressing scenes, but I absolutely loved it.  But that's beside the point.  The point for this long overdue post is finding a punishment that fits the crime.  Throughout literature (since I'm an English major), authors have presented sinners paying for their faults in fitting means.  Dante Alghieri's Divine Comedy, most specifically his Inferno, depicts numerous sufferings that vary depending on the specific sin.  Gluttony punished by swimming in putrid and rotting food.  I would not recommend this book for children.  It's a bit dark and scary.  A happy alternative, however, is Tomi dePaola's enchanting story Strega Nona.  This tale tells of how Big Anthony uses Strega Nona's magical pasta pot but cannot turn it off.  His punishment is to eat all of the pasta he created.  Needless to say, Big Anthony did not ever touch Strega Nona's pot again.

When your child requires discipline, it is often ineffective to simply use the same level of punishment for all their misdemeanors.  Failure to clean their room vs. being disrespectful to your authority are on different scales, generally.  If you simply send them to their room for everything, they won't learn that various actions have various consequences.  The specific example I have in mind is when your child loses something important, such as their art class paintbrushes or soccer cleats.  There are a few steps that should be taken in these cases, and a very motivating punishment as well.

1.  The child should look for the missing item.  Scour the house.  Dig under their bed.  You may help them search, but do not do all the work for them.  
2.  If the item is not found, make the child pay for it (or at least part.)  Having to part with even a small amount of hard-earned money will burn the lesson into their minds.  They will be extra careful with their possessions and take special care not to lose them again.
3.  Oftentimes, the threat of having to pay themselves for the missing items increases the determination to find the lost thing ten-fold.  Good luck!  And you can, of course, always pray to St. Anthony, patron of lost causes.

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