Is "Go to Your Room!" really punishment anymore?
May 12, 2007 3:07pm CST
I am childless by choice, but I enjoy reading parent's discussions because of the warmth and caring people give each other. I often see folks suggest sending a kid to their room as part of a response to bad behavior. I used to flashback to my youth and the simple, quiet room where I inevitably fell asleep not long after my banishment. Sometimes, I would sit under the covers with my flashlight to read, but mostly, being sent to my room meant an early bedtime from sheer boredom. Imagine my surprise when I went to a friend's to help her get ready to move, and walked in to her six year old daughter's room for the first time - TV, DVD/VCR dual deck, boombox, you name it! There was even something called a Barbie laptop that can actually access the Internet! It was like the ultimate Orwellian coccoon. My friend says her girl's not allowed to use these things when she's on punishment. Yeah, right... I wasn't allowed to read, either, but I certainly did! Plug in some headphones, put a blanket at the bottom of the door, and away you go. So, I was wondering, is this really punishment?
19 Jun 07
My kids don't have any electronics in their rooms, but I'm not big on arbitrary punishments either. If my kids do something wrong, I focus on getting them to fix whatever problem their behavior caused. I know some people use "go to your room" as a way for their kids to cool down, when they're being rude or unpleasant, and allow them to return as soon they're able to get their behavior under control. I had planned to do this too, but I've found simply commenting on how their tone affects my willingness to respond to them, has been enough so far. (My kids are ages 5 and 8). I think overusing "go to your room" as a punishment can set up a dynamic that can lead to more frequent bad behavior, and poor self-control. If a child is having a crappy day, and is full of bad feelings she wants to let out, she can make a scene in front of her parents and get them to manage her behavior before her. Instead of feeling bad about how she acted, she also gets to feel angry at them for punishing her. I'd prefer to make kids responsible for dealing with their negative emotions. We've talked about lots of options for calming down in the past (e.g. asking for a cuddle and a talk or story on the couch, going to a quiet place in their rooms, imagining something fun, stepping out on the deck for some fresh air, exercising etc.) Then when they have behaved in a whiny or negative way, I've been able to say, "I don't like being talked to that way; is there anything I can do to help you get back to normal?." The bad mood often evaporates instantly, and if not, they usually open up in a sad rather than a rude way, about some upsetting event that happened during the day. I think often negative behavior is a child's (or even an adult's) way, of begging someone to notice that they're feeling bad, and allow them a release of emotion. I find since I taught my kids some ideas for handling their bad feelings, they're way more likely to just tell me they had a bad day, than to create drama. I wouldn't want to have in my family. Everyone has moments where they feel like unloading their stress by being belig. If you have parents who will send you to your room, you get to have your outburst,
• United States
22 Jun 07
Wow, Tanya, that sounds like such an excellent way to deal with your kids! It makes a great deal of sense, and promotes emotional maturity as they're ready to handle it. Your kids are lucky to have parents who manage these things so well. Thanks for sharing your methods.
23 Jun 07
Wow thanks. I was worried I was being a bit sanctimonious and was almost afraid to check back. I have to say, I'm a much better parent in text than I am in real life sometimes. My kids are probably off running with scissors while I'm sitting here on the internet instead of interacting with them. :) Also, sorry about that jumbled orphan paragraph at the end. I forgot to edit it off.
• United States
22 Jun 07
Young kids today have no idea of punishment. Growing up in my household, if you said no my dad would hurl me up the stairs. Another fun one was where he used to slam me off all four walls of the room. I know for certain I am not the only mid-30's man who remembers these kinds of things. The generation after me had that Dr Spock's "dont hit 'em" treatment. What a mistake.
• United States
12 May 07
I don't think it is anymore. My children have all the gadgets in their room as well and sending them to their room is not much punishment unless we take all the cords away from them. Even than they would find something to do to have fun. So, pretty much the room is out of discussion for punishments.