Child Discipline

21 Creative Consequences

21 creative consequences

Disciplining our children takes dedication and effort.  It also helps to mix in a little creativity when needed.  The creative consequences below from parenting expert, Lisa Welchel, might seem a little strong, but let them inspire you to come up with your own, and pair them with the 7 Steps to Tried and True Discipline.

1. If time-outs don’t work, try a “time-in.” This can be accomplished by sending your child to a designated spot where he must complete a task that has a definite beginning and end. This could be putting together a small puzzle, stringing 50 beads on a piece of yarn, or tracing the alphabet. A time-in diverts his energies and encourages him to focus on something positive.

2. Timers set definite boundaries. For example, with a timer, you can say, “I’m setting the timer. I want your room cleaned (or your shoes on, or the dishes unloaded) in 15 minutes. If you haven’t finished by then, your correction is….” This method not only spurs on easily distracted children, but it also leaves little room for arguing about a job that isn’t finished and whether the correction is warranted.

3. Make a homemade “Correction” can and fill it with tickets or slips of paper with various consequences written on them. Instead of giving your child a time-out, send her to the can for a slip. A few ideas might include no TV or computer for a night, early bedtime, or an extra chore. Toss in a blank piece of paper, a “mercy” ticket. This gives you an opportunity to talk about how God gives us mercy even when we deserve punishment.

4. If you repeatedly open the door to your child’s room only to catch him in an act of disobedience, take your child’s bedroom door off the hinges. It sounds harder to do than it actually is. And it works wonders!

5. Adjust bedtimes according to your children’s behavior that day. For each infraction, they must go to bed five minutes earlier, but if they’ve been good, they can earn the right to stay up an extra five minutes.

6. An especially tough but effective correction for teenagers who forget to wear their seat belts is to add an additional day past their sixteenth birthday before they can take their driver’s test. Hey, it’s important!

7. If you have dawdlers, try this: Whoever is last to the table at dinnertime becomes the server. But there’s a catch. Even if you’re first, your hands must be clean, of you’ll end up serving the food, pouring the drinks, and fetching the condiments (after washing your hands, of course!).

8. If your children are constantly turning in sloppy schoolwork, get a few photocopied pages of printing or cursive exercises. (These can be found at any teachers supply store.) Then ask your haphazard child this: “What takes longer: a report done neatly in 15 minutes or one you’ve sped through in 10 that must be redone and warrants a page of handwriting practice?”

9. You’ve heard the reprimand “Hold your tongue!” Make your child do it-literally. Have her stick out her tongue and hold it between two fingers. This is an especially effective correction for public outbursts.

10. My friend, Becki, tried a variation on this idea in the car. If things got too raucous or there was too much fussing between siblings, she would cry, “Noses on knees!” Her children then had to immediately touch their noses to their knees until she determined that they had learned their lesson.

11. Next time your child “forgets” to put something away, like video games or sports equipment, put it away for him. When he asks where it is, tell him that he’ll just have to look for it. Believe me; he will learn that it’s a lot more trouble to find something that Mom has hidden than it is to put it away in the first place.

12. If you have younger children who are messy, try this: Put their toys in a “rainy day” box to bring out later. This has the added benefit of making an old toy seem new again. Or set the toy somewhere out of reach but within sight for a predetermined number of days. This increases the impact of the correction by keeping the forbidden toy fresh in their minds.

13. I heard from a mom who had tired of her three sons’ ceaseless noises and sound effects—so she got creative. If her boys did not take their commotion outside, she would make them sit down and listen to the “Barney” theme song cassette for 10 minutes. For adolescent boys, it’s torture!

14. If your little one gets too hyper, come up with a code word to remind him to stop the action without embarrassing him. Whenever Tucker started getting too rowdy in a group, I would yell, “Hey, Batman.” He knew that he needed to calm down before I had to take more drastic measures.

15. Does your child slam the door when she’s angry? You might tell her, “It’s obvious that you don’t know how to close a door properly. To learn, you will open and close this door, calmly and completely, 100 times.”

16. If your child likes to stomp off to his room or stomp around in anger, send him outside to the driveway and tell him to stomp his feet for one minute. He’ll be ready to quit after about 15 seconds, but make him stomp even harder.

17. The same goes for throwing fits. Tell your child to go to her room to continue her fit. She isn’t allowed to come out and she has to keep crying for 10 minutes. Ten minutes is an awfully long time, and it’s no fun if your parents tell you to cry.

18. Another way to handle temper tantrums is to simply say, “That is too disruptive for this house. You may continue your fit in the backyard. When you’re finished, you are welcome to come back inside.” When there isn’t an audience, the thrill of throwing a temper tantrum is gone.

19. If a job is not done diligently, have your child practice doing it. She’ll learn to be more thorough if she’s made to sweep the floor three or four times because her first effort wasn’t good enough.

20. When one of my children is acting disrespectful, disobedient, or defiant, I will instruct him or her to choose a chore from the Job Jar. The jobs include scrubbing the toilet, organizing the pots and pans, moving and vacuuming underneath the furniture, weeding the garden, matching up odd socks, defrosting the refrigerator, and cleaning the closet, garage, or under the bed. And those are just a few possibilities. You could add ironing, vacuuming the refrigerator coils, scrubbing the inside of small wastebaskets, polishing the silver, cleaning the window wells, brushing the animals, cleaning the fireplace, shaking the kitchen rugs, vacuuming the couch, alphabetizing the spices, and using wood cleaner on the dining room chairs. Not only does the Job Jar help to get my house clean, but it also keeps my little ones from complaining that they’re bored. They know that with the Job Jar, Mom will always have an antidote for boredom.

21. I have a friend whose son’s morning chore was to get the pooper-scooper and clean up the doggie gifts littering the backyard. The boy was not doing this job with much diligence, so his father came up with this creative solution: After the boy had completed the task, he would be required to run through the yard barefoot! From then on, their lawn was perfectly clean.

Taken from Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel.

Related Resource: Why You Need to Stick With Your Kid’s Consequences

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  • Ali

    Be careful with number 8. Make sure your child does not have a motor deficit first. Sloppy handwriting is often a sign of this.

    • Gazzer

      I have that and when I was younger I had a teacher who was convinced it was because I was lazy.

  • pbaldwin

    Some good ideas, although I wouldn’t do the door one as that sort of thing would just wind up my son as he has Asbergers.

  • MelissaJ

    I like #7 for the dawdlers! I could sit through more of dinner!

  • Marie

    When my daughter was 9, a normal consequence was having to wear a dress or skirt to school. Doesn’t sound like a big deal??? for my jeans and tee shirt and converse girl it was punishment enough to only have to do it once!

  • Gwen

    A lot of these seem harsh. 21 could cause disease and is unusual. A lot of these seem like consequences that will happen if it’s not up to mom standards, not that their being destructive, or misbehaving. Now something like 1 or 14, that feels like a mom and child working towards a goal together without humiliation. To me a lot of these are making a moms life easier, but a child’s life harder. A lot of the consequences don’t seem to fit the actual wrong. I’ve been studying child psychology for a while on my own, but have taken classes within child development and know that a lot of these would be considered highly unacceptable. I can see some being creative, but a lot being cruel and unusual.

    • kelly

      I agree to some extent with what you’re saying, but I think this is a bit of a modifiable template for your child, and needs to suit the age of the child. I disagree with any of the degrading or demeaning chores because the hope is to encourage a child to be happy and resourceful rather than anxious and fearful. I really think that this “concept” could work if only it was more positively structured around benefiting the child rather than the parent.

      • zeke199

        You & Gwen might have missed the point – The key is to develop, instill, and increase ownership in a child, yes in a loving way. None of these items are humiliating but rather teaching children to do things to appropriate completion & be considerate of others. #21 is a great idea to ensure a child learns increased observation & task completion skills. What’s the worst that could happen – he/she missed some poop & must wash their feet??? Bet that won’t happen again!

        By the way, most child psych books & classes are designed to create tyranical, narcissistic kids who grow up to be the next batch of self-absorbed, self-pious adults. Follow God’s design instead & you’ll see how appropriate discipline is one of the kindest means of love parents can give to their children.

    • happymaman

      First, a good washing of the feet after will avoid disease. We are way too germaphobic as a society. A few germs are good for you. Second, most of these will require the parent to stay on top of it and enforce the consequence. It will take effort (as good parenting does). Not every consequence will work for every child and every parent should be aware or their child’s special needs if that applies. I would think these would be done after establishing that there are no mental or physical disabilities first. We took our teen daughter’s door off after she repetedly slammed it and it worked wonders. Set a clear, known consequence and stick with it. That will help children become respectful, respectable contributing members of society.

    • annoyed with stupid people

      I think you are stupid and have no idea how to raise children. If you had any sense you would realize that you are not raising children but young adults and that what you train your two year old to be will be what they are at forty so if you are stupid enough to think that you should not train your child to be an adult you will be making your child become very insecure in life. When you call training cruel and unusual you are saying that your child is less intelligent than a dog. It seems strange that people will train their dogs and let their children run around like savages. Get a life and please don’t ever have any children no one would be able to stand them.

    • Sarah


    • kris

      people who think like you are what’s wrong with society.

  • Puma

    I think all of these ideas are brilliant. Thank you for sharing this list with a mother of a 17 year-old, 15 year-old and nine year-old girls. I don’t believe that any of these chores make life easy on the mother. On the contrary, all of these suggestions make life easier on the family unit. I was 12 years a slave, or rather 12 years a stay-at-home mom. What I learned most once I began working full-time is this, I literally raised my children to be dependent on someone else for clean laundry, a clean home, groceries; rides to school, practices, games, recitals, doctor’s appointments and best friend’s homes. Not to mention keeping a calendar of events for each family member. While young children are not expected to drive themselves to school or other commitments, I found that my teens were not interested in learning to drive or took initiative to keep tidy rooms or inquired as to how to cook etc… My point is this, do not raise your child to be inept. Always encourage, foster and lead your child by example and with love. When this fails, use the “21 Creative Consequences for Kids” list without hesitation and quilt-free. May the force be with you new parents.

  • aUSMCmom

    Some of the comments are exactly why we have such an issue with children and teen behavior in our society which then turns into juvenile detention being full, and jails as well as lazy people that have no work ethic. Gees what a nightmare.

    • aharris10877


  • Stacy

    I don’t agree with the previous comment about the chores being degrading for the kids to do…. Chores are responsibilities that everyone shoud learn to do, cleaning toilets is work for anybody and I certainly don’t have a problem with my children cleaning a toilet every now and then. Learning to do meaningful work can help erase this epidemic of entitlement that is running rampant with our children in this country. We coddle our kids way too much here.

  • Rachel

    I have started using the tongue idea on my very rowdy son who often makes what I have now termed “nuisance noises” usually during times of extreme inappropriateness and hyperactivity. It has worked wonders.He maybe has done it 3 times today compared to fifty, this has helped Mom cool off with her grouchy-ness because my child is not driving me insane making annoying noises spratically through out the day.As a mother of three it can get loud in my home. I can also use that moment of silence to explain and further remind him we only use our tongue for REAL communication. DEF. looking into buying her book. As for people saying these IDEAS are too HARSH, or CRUEL. It is a parents duty to LOVINGLY DISCIPLE your children and to teach them responsibility. I don’t enjoy cleaning up after everyone NOR is it just one persons responsibility. I also don’t enjoy not having control of my children and getting embarrassed in public. I really don’t feel these suggestions are things that are going to be LONG term either, as I can already see in my child after having to hold his tongue for two minutes after he makes “nuisance noises”, hes become a little more conscious to his decisions.

    • Mike Kelley


  • BoyMom07

    Very creative. None involve hitting or yelling on the part of the parent. I love number 3. All need to experience some mercy from time to time.

  • Rebecca Michelle Weir-Tucker

    I can’t even begin to tell ALL OF YOU
    Be very cautious with these “consequences”…..consequences they are not. Punishments they VERY MUCH ARE…..I have NO PROBLEM with my girls being themselves…..if they are lacking respect for anyone, we MUST un cover the heart of the matter…our job isn’t to “rid our kids of *bad attitudes, or *improper diligence”….our job is to REACH THEIR HEARTS……Make the last one to the table “serve” everyone?…..serving should NEVER be a PUNISHMENT! SERVING IS OUR GOAL! Why are these things only targeted at the kid you see as having a harder time? That’s probably the kid who needs you to forget your petty list of arbitrary rules and EMBRACE THEM! Forget the “schedule” and outward issues and CONNECT! NEVER EVER EVER SHAME THEM!
    “This is most ‘effective in public…..if they’re annoying you” YOU MATTER, SHAME THEM. LET THEM KNOW THEY’LL REGRET THAT HUMMING {O.M.G. AN OBNOXIOUS NOISE? } you better nip that in the bud!!!……don’t factor in to whether it matters to GOD….IF IT BOTHERS you….YOU ARE ABOVE ONLY AND NOT UNDERNEATH…EMBARASS HIM! YEAH HE’LL stop! YOU’RE ANNOYING HIM!…
    The tone of this entire piece was {US VS. THEM} That’s the opposite way to grow a relationship with the priceless individuals you love….love,joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness , gentleness & SELF CONTROL( THAT MEANS YOU!….BE WHO YOU DESIRE them to be…..let go of your perfection and let them be kids. They help with all common area chores…..but NOT MOTIVATED LIKE THIS! USE THE GOLDEN RULE!

    • tots

      Good point Rebecca. We need to honour serving rather than subject it as a punishment…I totally believe in the philosophy of letting them be who they are…accept them embrace them. Teach them rather than punish them. And most of all if it’s a job well done as a parent you never will have behavioural issues with your children …
      Every Child is different and punishments wi
      H some dont work…It can be disrespectful and hurtful I feel. My three year old for example doesn’t need punishments but explaining…and it’s the only thing that works!

  • instant daddy

    I have four children. I’m neutral I my opinion on how parents discipline or correct their children’s behavior. People are different, kids are different. There might be some kids that are similar, but we all have our own brains, likes, and dislikes. not every kid will learn the same way or take a situation the same as other kids will. They all have their own perception of things. As parents we can help shape their opinion. I use different methods on all of my kids, because they are different. Whatever the correction that I give them may be always comes along with more than an earful. I explain to them what they did wrong and how to correct it and why they have to correct it. Over and over again. Every time they make a mistake. One main problem with my children is they “forget” alot of things that us parents say. So it’s up to me to make an eternal imprint on their brain by repetition. There is no punishment in this house by “labor”. Call it what you may, but the way you project these lessons will determine how your child perceives life. I teach them that these “chores” aren’t chores if this the way you want to live life. A job doesn’t seem like a job when you love it. A chore isn’t a core when you learn how to do it efficiently and it becomes second nature. I teach my kids cause and effect. Action and reaction. When I was a child I was punished too much with no explanation. This is the motive behind my “jabber jaws”.

  • happymaman

    Most of these are reasonable, related consequences. I prefer a clam down space/time rather than telling them to keep crying or make them stomp though. Mostly, they encourage a respect for shared space, allow children to be themselves in a safe appropriate manner while being cognisent of other’s rights and needs. A noisey child isn’t told to be quiet, but to be noisey outside. That may be modified here as it gets too cold for outdoor play at times (-30 and colder). I believe that if you let the child know of the consequences and the reason behind it (and you know there are no other factors such as special needs or extreme stress), they will follow through as long as you do!

  • YourMom

    Or you forgot the one where you beat the hell out of them so they actually learn a listen.

  • KAtherine

    so this is the site MY mom goes on…………… no wonder………… u guys r sooooo mean i wuz holding MY toung 4 40 minutes…… just 4 saying shoot

  • Vin

    For number 3. You can even add a rewards jar or can. At the end of the day, if a child hasn’t acted out or done something that needs some recognition, have them draw something from the jar. It can include having a treat like ice cream? A trip to the movies, or staying up extra late.

  • Holiday

    This is all wrong. To take such joy from controlling, punishing and humiliating your chidren is really horrible. The aggression under it is so thinly veiled. Why don’t you talk to them, and listen? My children are lovely and we don’t do any of this. It’s just not necessary. I want them to grow up to do the right thing because they make good decisions, not because the have a fear of arbitrary punishments. The problem with all these rigid rules/consequence regimes is they allow you to stop thinking, stop listening, and stop considering how your child is and why they are behaving a certain way. Trust yourself to engage with your kids and drop all this. You’ll all be happier.

  • Candy

    Good advice and excellent article. If I may add. We have taken to giving our kids wall squats. 30 Seconds to a minute. Its when you sit in a sitting position against a wall (without chair or sitting aid) with arms up in front of your body. This also improves muscle tone and builds up core muscles. Two birds, one stone.

  • Tanya Marker

    19 is a bit sexist. She’ll, her how about they will sweep the floor. I’m a mom and I don’t have boy or girl chores I just have chores.

  • mel

    great ideas!!! I can’t wait to start