When I was growing up my parents were pretty lenient, so every now and then they’d made it a point to prove their “strictness”. I remember getting in trouble for things I knew they didn’t believe were that big of a deal (and were actually quite logical) but for some reason they just had to make punishable offences.
The following Ask Reddit parents responded to the question, “What is the most ingenious thing you’ve had to punish your kid for?”
Interested in more stories? Find the original thread at the end of the article.
My 3 year old daughter (nearly 4) is at nursery with kids who are 4 going on 5. She can’t really talk well but I was there picking her up and one of the kids (he is a little bully) was being awkward and kicking his feet out or kicking her shoes when she was trying to sit down and put them on. I was going to go over and say something but she got up, picked his shoes up and threw them over a wall. He had no shoes on and was crying that she had stolen his shoes. I explained what had happened to the teacher who saw it as well and we laughed it off… I didn’t have the heart to get her into trouble as she was defending herself.
I treated her to a toy.
My boy was still in elementary school when we were contacted because he had hit a girl. At face value it is never okay but he told us that she was always messing with him and that this time she had threatened to tell the teacher that he had slapped her even though he hadn’t (yet).
His reasoning was that if she was going to say he had, then he might as well because he’d get in trouble anyway.
She didn’t bother him again after that incident.
I was working technology support for AT&T when a father called in irate that we were stealing his data. He used the AT&T application and was constantly checking the data usage of his two adolescent children, one of which was a 10-year-old boy who was constantly going over his data and using up the shared data bucket for the whole family.
The father was tired of this and had blocked the data on his son’s phone but allowed his daughter (the good child) to use data on her phone, since she did so sparingly. Now this month AT&T was saying that his daughter had used 18 gigabytes of data in one month incurring multiple expensive overage charges and he was insisting that this was impossible.
After a bit of digging I discovered that someone had swapped the SIM cards between the brother and sister’s phone. Then to hide the fact, the person also forwarded numbers from one phone to the other and vice versa, so none would be the wiser. I had to explain it to the father twice and he was more amazed than pissed at his ten-year-old son’s technological savvy.
When my son was 3 he shredded a block of packing foam into the back of the floor fan like it was a cheese grater and made it snow in July. Suddenly there were tons of little white dots floating down the stairs. I heard giggles and “it’s snowing!”
I have never been so impressed and so angry at the same time. It’s been four years and I still occasionally find those damn foam pieces.
The snack cracker boxes were ALL open and there were three or four mostly stale crackers left at the bottom of each of them.
A few months earlier there was an awesome sale on Triscuits so we stocked up. Our little genius had been helping herself but still making it look as if we had plenty of unopened packages. She’d scarf down 95% of the package and swap the box with a full one in back of the shelf.
We discovered this when we had some friends over and went to fill up a snack bowl. There were five boxes and about 20 crackers in total.
It was really hard to keep a straight face as we gave her a hard time about it.
(And was thankful that at least it wasn’t like that time a friend’s kid stole about 80% of their liquor cabinet content by refilling the bottles with water.)
Sneaking ice cream out the freezer
It was in one of those transparent tubs and my children would eat it from one side and put it back so that the side which was still full would face me and I couldn’t tell they had eaten it (not being a fan of ice cream I rarely opened it).
When finally I decided to get the ice cream out for their pudding one day, I took out two tubs, both of which had the thinnest slither on one end of the tub creating the illusion that they were full.
When my son was 3 he had just basically finished potty training and he never had accidents.
One day we got him a new small bath toy and let him play with it in the sink for a few minutes before bed time. Not even 10 minutes after he got in bed, he started crying. We went to check on him and he had wet the bed. So as my wife is changing the sheets I’m cleaning him up in the bathroom, when he suddenly says “Do I take a bath now?” and then it dawned on me. So I asked, “Did you wet the bed on purpose so that we’d give you a bath so that you could play with your new toy?”, to which he hung his head and muttered “yeah”.
I stepped away for a minute, him thinking I was mad, but I was really just laughing. We cleaned him up and put him back to bed, but damn if he didn’t have the conniving to think all that through.
My kid had just turned 3 and he loves the iPad. YouTube kids especially. Wife and I would get up in the morning as see him watching YouTube and we just assumed each other had let him watch and gave each other dirty looks.
Turned out he figured out TouchID as I woke up one day with the feeling that someone had my hand. It was my kid unlocking my iPad with my thumb.
In middle school, I had to be in the house and inside my room by 10pm (on the weekend). In times of wall mounted phones, I found a way to stay out as late as I wanted. So long as I was able to sneak back in without getting caught.
Around 9pm or so I would call my house phone from wherever I happened to be. When my mom would answer the phone I would reply, “I got it mom. It’s (insert friends name here)”. She would say, “oh, I didn’t know you were home.” “Yeah, I got home like and hour ago”, “oh, okay! Have a good night.” Then we would both hang up the phone.
She never found out about this until she was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma (most aggressive brain tumor) and was only given a short time to live. When it was just her and I in her hospital room awaiting her brain surgery, she asked if there was anything that I did growing up that she never found out about.
When I told her this story, she laughed hysterically and proudly said it sounded like something she would have done growing up.
By the way, my mother was given 7-12 months to live when she was diagnosed in 2013. She is still with us today and is of only 3% to have lived this long after this diagnosis.
I had to punish my then 7-year-old daughter not only for sneaking online without permission, but for attempting to start a credit line with BillMeLater.
We found out when a letter from BillMeLater arrived in the house in her name, rejecting her on “lack of references or employment”.
She told us she was on Toys R Us’ website and wanted to buy something.
Five year old who had never watched the Simpsons put her homework in the dogs mouth and then came to tell me the dog had eaten her homework!!! Laughed so hard I cried and she got upset because she had no idea what was funny. Made her go to her room (without dog…) until she finished the homework.
I’m not a parent but my dad told me this story about my older brother.
In high school he was the cool kid smoking behind the gym, cutting class and always at a party. He used to sneak off to a pizza place for lunch everyday till he go caught and told he couldn’t leave school for lunch anymore. His solution? He ordered pizza to his class room window. In the middle of class he stands up, walks to the window, opens it and grabs a pizza box. He pays the guy sits down and enjoys.
The principal and my dad both had a good laugh about it.
I have a 3-year-old Tasmanian devil of a boy, and a 9-month-old baby girl that’s not even really crawling but gets around well with the army crawl.
My son comes running to me “Mommy, mommy come look Scout made a mess!” I follow him out to the balcony and one of my planters had half the flowers pulled out of it and thrown over the edge.
Scout was sitting there by it with a little bit of dirt on her, but my son had much more dirt on his hands. Plus the fact that most of the flowers had been thrown over the edge, which she is not capable of doing.
There wasn’t much of a punishment but it was quiet impressive how he tried to frame her.
My nephew was running a rigged poker game at school. He marked the back of every face card by filling in one of the numerous tiny white spaces on the back design. He’d just look at the back of each card as they were being dealt and if that little spot wasn’t white, he’d know it was a face card.
It was just enough inside knowledge of each player’s hand to improve his odds significantly but not so lopsided in his favor that it drew attention. His lunch mates just thought he was REALLY good at reading bets.
He didn’t get caught by his school or lunch mates because I busted him on it.
The first day (I watched him for the week) I saw him take the cards out of his backpack. I asked to play for fun then noticed it after a few hands. To make my point, after losing a hand, I reached over and took all his pretzel sticks anyways. He got all indignant, “Hey you can’t just do that! I won!”
To which I responded “When the alternative is telling your mom and principle that you’ve been running a poker scam at school, I make the rules.” I let him spend the next week terrified that I was going to rat him out.
My wife insists that I taught him how to blackmail people, I insist that I taught him the real consequence of cheating is way worse than a simple punishment.
My youngest, now 5, was pestering my oldest, now 8, a couple of years ago. He kept hitting, poking and being pretty annoying. I told him he needed to use safe, kind hands and keep his hands to himself.
Little man processed this for a few seconds, then whacked his big brother with his forearm while making sure to keep his hands out of the way.
He looked at me, wagged his fingers and did, “My hands were safe and kind!”
Poor kid still got sent to his room.
My 5-year-old daughter is obsessed with YouTube. In particular the kind of videos where people open various kinds of toys and do funny voices and get excited about what they get.
When it was getting out of hand and she wasn’t doing her chores and just being plain rude I told her YouTube was banned and deleted the app from her tablet and blocked access to browsers in general. She could still play games, it was just Youtube she couldn’t watch.
The next day I found her hiding under her blanket watching YouTube. The back door she found was to go into the Google Play Store and tap to watch the video of the app in use and from there link off to the video series she liked.
Now she hates me because all she is allowed to do is watch TV. It’s only a matter of time before she realizes that it’s a smart T.V that is Youtube ready.
I recently had to punish my 13-year-old for screen-capping the schools compass page, photoshop out the classes for the day and add a curriculum day. The school doesn’t send notes, newsletters or anything anymore everything is online.
It was 35c and her younger brother had a curriculum day and we wanted to go to the beach but she had school. I didn’t realize until the school called later in the day and left a voicemail asking why she was absent.
She was banned from the internet for the weekend and I wasn’t even mad, I would’ve done it as a kid if I could have. She definitely takes after me.
Whenever we would put our middle son to bed, he would cry and vomit. Every night he’d cry and puke. We’d get him up, clean him, change the bed sheets and get him back to bed where he would eventually fall asleep. He was probably around a year and a half old.
One night as he was beginning his bed time cry, I opened the door to check on him. I caught him sticking his fingers down his throat. He looked at me, stopped crying, and gave me the biggest smile. My little brilliant, beautiful, devious crap head was making himself vomit to get out of bed. He thought it was hilarious! He smiled and started to put his fingers in his mouth again, then he’d pull them out and laugh at our expressions.
We didn’t punish him, just told him to stop doing it, and he did. He’s nearly 11 now, and still gives me a run for my money.
We have a discount shop in town – ‘The 99p Store’. These days it sells some real crap, but a dozen years ago (and more) it had all sorts of bankrupt stock bargains in there. Sweets, drinks, you name it.
My kid would save his pocket money, take a large knapsack and stagger back under a humungous load of stuff. I remember the Powerade – 99p for a six-pack. And all this stuff would be clandestinely sold at school, undercutting the school shop along the way.
He got caught, of course. I think the bubblegum was his downfall – it got stuck to everything, and enquiries were made.
It all went quiet for a few weeks and then I got home from work and my wife said, “Mister Shine Junior has something to tell you…” and there was the kid with the most guiltiest hangdog expression you’d ever see.
“I’ve been excluded from school for a week.”
“For selling my stuff.”
“You’ve been continuing to do it? You silly sod. Oh well, it’s not the crime of the century, but don’t do it again, you hear? They’ll be looking out for you.”
And then a crafty look came over his little face. “That’s OK. I can get my third parties to do it for me.”
Too young to know the word ‘distributors’, but it turned out that he’d worked it out himself, that it was easier and quicker to pass bulk stock over to other kids, and let them sell it for him, in exchange for a percentage.
Punishment was a minor stoppage of pocket money, as I recall, so nothing too serious, partly because at this point I cracked up and started laughing out loud instead of playing the outraged parent.
Not me but a work colleague told this brilliant story just yesterday at lunch:
Apparently his son was always getting in trouble in school for being a smart mouth, joking around, and just kind of being a general jerk. The school was calling and sending letters to him often. His son always said it was other kids pulling him into it or the teachers didn’t like him but my coworker knew his son well enough to know that this wasn’t the case. My co-worker said he tried punishing his in various ways but like a lot of kids like this, once they get away from their parents they act differently.
So one day he takes him to school like normal, but parks the car and gets outside instead. The son is suspicious and surprised, asked him what he’s doing. Coworker says “I know you’re having so many problems in school with teachers and other kids and I believe you so I want to find out what’s really going on. And I’m going to do it by sitting right behind you in class. And not just your first class, but every class. And tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that until I can see what’s going on.” He planned to take a week off from work, and had got permission from the school (who thought this was an excellent idea) to make this work.
He said his son lasted two classes before he begged him not to come to anymore. My co-worker left and he never had any problems with his son after that. His son graduated and is now a functional member of society.
My 6 year old daughter spent $1 on a bag of seashells at the dollar store. I kept asking why would she want a bag of random seashells (we already live by the beach). She comes home last week from school with a bunch of random crap- markers, toys from easter baskets, candy, etc. I asked her how she got everything, and she said she would ask kids if they wanted a seashell and then ask what they would give her for it.
My son was about 15 at the time. I received a call from the school that earlier this morning they had confiscated his cell phone because he was using it in class and I would need to go to the office to pick it up. Funny thing is he had just texted me on his phone so this didn’t make any sense. Apparently what he had done (for who knows how long) was carry around with him an old un-working phone (you know when you upgrade but still keep your old one) just in case he got caught so he could hand over the other phone. Genius really.
Son was banned from using computers at his dad’s house before school, after a long run of waking at 5am to play games and thus being ‘too tired to learn’ by the time he got to school. His dad sleeps like the dead so didn’t notice until he started looking at the server logs a few weeks in.
Day 2 of the computer ban, son calls me at 5am to get me to play word games over the phone. I was both angry and hugely impressed.
(We eventually got his sleep habits slightly more on track but the no-computer-before-school rule stayed in place until he was 11!)
When she was 5 we got a note from her school that she had been trying to get other kids to stick different objects into the electric outlets.
She knew that she shouldn’t do it but didn’t understand why so she gave different kids different materials to see what would happen. It was an experiment.
‘Schoolloop’ is a website that let’s parents and kids see their grades and assignment scores. In middle school, my kid recognized my pattern for checking his grades – I would go in his room after dinner and we would review the grades on his computer.
So he would edit the HTML code to edit the temporary display of his grades to show higher scores and higher percentages.
We now have a rule…refresh the damn website before any review.
My daughter was about 18 months old and in daycare. If you’ve ever had a toddler in a daycare center, you know that at that age biting is a “thing” and it’s miraculous if you go a week without your kid being the biter or bitee.
I picked up my daughter and her teacher pulled me aside immediately and said my daughter had done one of the funniest things she’d ever seen in the toddler room. Apparently my daughter and another boy were fighting over a toy. They were both getting quite angry. My daughter stuck her arm out inches from the boys mouth and yelled “BITE!” The boy bit her.
The boy got reprimanded and my daughter got cuddles and a bandaid. She knew exactly what she was doing. We had a(nother) talk about biting that night and how it’s not appropriate to instigate our friends.