How Do You Effectively Discipline Your Child When The Only Thing She Truly Loves Is School?

[ 9 ] October 19, 2012 |

I’ve read all the parenting books. I’ve even watched SuperNanny while laughing my ass off. I’ve taken away much-loved toys, blankies, makeup and TV. I’ve tried to employ all of the supposedly “effective” parenting tactics, to no avail. I’ve spanked. I’ve yelled. I’ve threatened to duct tape her inside a closet and/or beat her like an unwanted, red-headed step-child. I’ve begged. I’ve pleaded. I’ve cried. I’ve questioned my ability to mother my extremely strong-willed, stubborn child and my seemingly tenuous grasp on sanity. I’ve done everything short of running away or begging to be admitted to the Funny Farm for a few days. Nothing has truly worked. The thing she loves most is school. This is a good thing. Actually, it’s fabulous. She cries when she can’t attend class due to illness. No joke. My daughter loves to learn. She even loves her teachers — except that horrible Kindergarten wench, that is. But, how do you effectively discipline your child when the only thing she truly loves is school?

Last night, The Diva did not finish her homework. Why second graders have homework now, I will never understand. In addition to her math and language, she had to write a summary (book report). Last week she picked out a book from the school library just for this week’s task. I have asked her everyday, “Did you finish reading your book? Your summary is due Friday.” Each time, she said she had read it. Last night, she admitted she had not actually read the book. She’d lied to her father and I. We tried to explain to her that she could not do her report without first reading the whole book. She insisted that she could write the summary while reading it. Because she’s special like that. 


We told her that she would need to finish the reading and summary after dinner before she could go to bed. Homework was due in the morning and there would be no time to finish it before school started. If she did not finish it before bed, she would not be going to school in the morning.  Period. She ate dinner, grabbed her book, summary form and promptly fell asleep.

She is not in school today.

My job as a mother is to teach my daughter how to be a good human and contribute to society — daddy’s job is to keep her off the pole. When she has done wrong, I must give her consequences — ones that teach her a lesson so that she will do better next time. But what do you do when nothing you’ve tried has worked?

I am not one of those touchy-feely parents who wants to be my child’s friend. Nor do I believe in soft discipline. I was raised being spanked with a belt (which I do not advocate, ever) — that was back when disciplining your child was not a crime. Eventually, my dad could simply raise his voice one octave, and I knew I had done wrong — or more importantly, disappointed my father. The tears would come and I would profess my remorse. I respected and loved my dad because he instilled it in me by being a father, not a friend. I want my daughter to feel the same way about me and her dad. That builds character and a human with good morals. If we accomplish that, we’ve done our jobs as parents.

Honestly though, this kid has me stumped.

When she woke up this morning, the first thing she asked is “Mama, why am I not in school?” My answer? “Because you did not finish your homework last night like you were told. I warned you about the consequences of lying and not doing what you are supposed to do. These are your consequences. You will finish your summary and then help me clean the house. You will have no TV today at all. This is not a day you can lay around and do nothing. You have to work today.” Then the howls began.

“But I want to go to school! We were going to do a cool science project today! I want to go to school! Mrs. G doesn’t care if you don’t finish your homework, she lets you do it in class! MOMMY! I have to go to school today!” This all broke my heart, but I had to stand firm.

“I can’t take you to school, daddy has the car and you haven’t finished your work like you were supposed to,” I replied.

“Why can’t we borrow the neighbor’s car?” she asked.

“Because they aren’t home, that’s why,” I retorted.

“But mommy!!!”

It got worse from there.

She cried like someone had torn off her arm or killed a baby kitten in front of her. She slammed doors, begged, pleaded and finally acquiesced to her fate. Her summary is now done, along with the rest of her homework, and she is busy (I think) picking up the living room — her bedroom is next. I realize that keeping her home from school is a bit extreme, but what else was I supposed to do? Sure, she would have had consequences from her teacher, but what about the ones from her parents? She’s already proven that losing TV does nothing, nor does stripping her of her favorite things. But taking away school for one day? That might just have done the trick.


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Category: The Diva

About the Author ()

I'm Shan and I 'm the creator of The Asylum and a magnet for The Free Range Stupid™. I'm a little nutty, a lot sarcastic and pretty damn smart. I am also a graphic designer, blog coder, virtual assistant, free lance writer and can whip you up a killer resume, media kit or press release that would make others green with envy. Go to Skewed Design Studios to check out my services. You won't be disappointed.

Comments (9)

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  1. Wow, that is a sticky situation indeed. I think you did the best thing to teach her about consequences. Hopefully she got the message.
    Rebecca E. Parsons recently posted..Choco-Pumpkin Caramel Parfaits & Cupcakes with the Delicious New Cool Whip FrostingMy Profile

  2. This could only happen to you!
    Zipporah Sandler recently posted..The meaningful giftMy Profile

  3. I feel sorry for you, really. But I wish I had this problem. I have the opposite – my daughter doesn’t want to go to school and she’s only 13. The grass is always greener…
    ConnieFoggles recently posted..Energizer Family Safety Kit #GiveawayMy Profile

  4. Ok keep in mind my kids are grown and it’s always easier to give advice when it’s not your kid. It sounds like she really wanted to go to school so a lesson was learned (hopefully) but maybe if you look at the other side of it. She missed a day of school, sure she was looking forward to the science project but she could of missed something important in that project. Maybe sending her to school and making her face the music that she didn’t complete her assignment would teach her that you’re not the only one she has to answer too. Next time I would call the teacher and explain to her that you need to teach her a lesson.

    I will tell you that there were many nights we stayed up doing projects last minute and sometimes when she got an A for it, I felt that we did all the work because we wanted to hurry and get it done.

    I started making reading time if a book report was due. I would make the girls read to ME the book (whether it was while I folded clothes, washed dishes, whatever). I was able to ask questions to make sure they were listening to what they read. This created habit and they eventually did their homework on their own.

    Now like I said it’s easier to say what to do when you’re not in the situation and every child is different. You will not find the answer in a book. I always said our children are test cases, we have no idea what we’re doing and you try things to see what works.

    If all else fails grab a bottle of wine and call me to drink with you!
    RachelFerrucci (@RachelFerrucci) recently posted..Tailgating Twitter Party Friday Sept 28, 2012My Profile

  5. Maria says:

    Definitely teach her consequences for her actions. Sorry this is happening. Being a mamma is tough.
    Maria recently posted..Create a Royal Princess Event this Halloween-Royal Ball Augmented Reality App #DisneyPrincessWMTMy Profile

  6. Heather B says:

    I have a 3-year-old Stubborn – can’t imagine where she gets it from (LOL). I’m sure I’ll be doing the same as you, in a few years. Good luck & stay strong! 😉

  7. Angel says:

    You do what works. What works for one family may or may not work. We just hope for the best.
    Angel recently posted..Settling InMy Profile

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