Kids are much smarter than we usually give them credit for. And how are you supposed to punish a child who does something totally ingenious? Well, depending on the transgression, you might just have to.
Here are people sharing stories of the times they were forced to punish their children, even if they were being intelligent.
Many thanks to all the Redditors who responded. Check out more answers from the source at the end of this article!
1. I’m not even mad.
When my son was 3 he had just basically finished potty training. 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 dang if he didn’t have the conniving to think all that through.
Sneaking ice cream out of the freezer.
It was in one of those transparent tubs, and they 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 on the tub creating the illusion that they were full.
3. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in this one.
My kids set up a sort of trading hub at school.
We had – still 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.
So it all went quiet for a few weeks, and then I got home from work and my wife said: “Junior has something to tell you..” and there was the kid with the guiltiest hangdog expression you ever saw.
“I’ve been excluded from school for a week.”
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“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.
4. Christmas in July.
My son (3 at the time) 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 hear 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 foam pieces.
5. I know a few “slow eaters” like this…
My nephew (3) is an extremely slow eater (because he sits there talking instead of eating), and his mom was trying to get him to speed up by putting a stop clock next to him whilst he ate. I was Skyping with them one day during dinner time and I noticed every time she turned around, he would pause the clock and then start it again before she turned back.
6. Lenin at it again.
Ok, I’m not the parent of this kid, but I was his teacher in 5th grade. This kid was named Lenin. This is not a made up name. I loved this kid. B-A-D bad, but a total wisecracker and very bright. Anyway, alka-seltzer tablets were a fad at our school for a while because of the fizziness, but because it’s considered a “drug” it was banned.
So this ingenious kid sets up an alkaseltzer ring run out of the fifth grade restrooms. He had mules and everything. He would ask to use the restroom in different classes at specific times and arranged that with his henchmen. He spread the word about the times he would be in the bathroom, and anyone who wanted alkaseltzer would go. They paid him in our school money we gave the kids as rewards. Eventually got busted because too many boys were having alkaseltzer fueled parties in the bathroom and they got loud enough to be caught. Lenin got suspended for 3 days for that. Totally unrepentant when he came back.
7. Banned. From. The. Internet. A fate worse than death…
I recently had to punish my 13 year old for screen capping the schools compass page (they don’t send notes, newsletters or anymore, all online) and photoshopping out the classes for the day, and adding a curriculum day.
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It was 35c, her younger brother had a curriculum day, and we wanted to go to the beach but she had school. I didn’t realise 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, I wasn’t even mad, I would’ve done it as a kid if I could have. She definitely takes after me.
8. Every rule has a story.
Schoolloop is a website that lets 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 (F12 I think) to edit the temp display of his grades to show higher scores and higher %s.
We now have a rule…. refresh the website (F5) before any review.
9. They always find a way.
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 YT she couldn’t do.
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 realises that it’s a smart tv that is YT ready.
10. Halo for all!
Not a parent, but my friend got grounded for a whole year when he got suspended from school for writing/running a program to install Halo 1 on the network of school computers.
He was grounded further when his parents found out he was making hundreds of dollars by running a Runescape private server.
He was a few years younger than me, and no older than 16 at the time. Kid is smart.
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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.
Discovered this when we had some friends over and went to fill up a snack bowl. Five boxes, about 20 crackers in total.
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.)
12. This kid is going places.
Not a parent but my dad tells this one about my older brother. So 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.
My daughter at the age of 5 was “employing” her kindergarten friends to dig up “special gems” (which were actually just plastic craft sparkle things) then she was selling the gems to other students for $2 each then going back and paying her little school friends with 50c icy poles from the canteen. And her friends who found the most gems would earn “commission” and occasionally would be paid a packet of lollies $1.10. It got to a point were kids were begging to be “employed” by her as the payment was so good and it created some issues as she had to fire some and employ others.
This went on for about 2 months, until one day my daughter came home with $22. Next day I was called to the school to have a meeting about my daughter’s business ventures, teachers were actually so impressed by her ability to do something like this but it was getting to the point were some kids would spend all their lunch money on these things.
That day I had to tell my daughter how incredibly proud of her I am, because her mind is so advanced but its not the right thing to do at school.
Since then I’ve told her she can use her skills with my work and she’s constantly finding ways to up sell all the clients. Wish I had the skills she has.
14. Not exactly Disney.
A friend of mine in HS used to record over Disney movies with porn then sell it at school.
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He’d walk right into school with a handful of VHS tapes full of porn and all the teachers thought it was just Disney movies. His parents had one of those hacks on their TV and got every channel. He told his parents years later and he just bought them basically the full Disney collection. His dad was proud but his mom was pissed and wanted her Disney tapes back.
15. I’ll be there for you. Everywhere…
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 and joking around. School was calling and sending letters to him a lot. The son always said it was other kids pulling him into it, the teachers didn’t like him, etc. etc., but my coworker knew his son well enough that this wasn’t the case. Said he tried punishing him in various ways but like a lot of kids like this, once they get away from 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. Coworker left and he never had any problems with his son after that. Son graduated and is a functional member of society.
16. Swim time!
Dug a hole in the sand in the school yard.
Convinced all his friends to pee in the hole.
Convinced kindergarteners to play “swim” in said hole…
17. Everybody wins.
Worked at a group home for a few years. During chore time, we always struggled to get a kiddo to volunteer to help clean the kitchen. But all of a sudden, one of our teens volunteered and was in there for about thirty minutes wiping down counters and sweeping. She did a great job and I know we took turns poking our heads in, seemed legit.
I’m working a double so meds and bedtime comes and she gets to bed with no issue and then I start to wonder what’s going on. First she’s volunteering to do the kitchen, now she’s in bed on time…hmm.
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I call her out to go get her meds, since she rushed off to bed. Under her covers? Peanut butter crackers, cheez-its, fruit snacks.
She comes up the stairs again to her bedroom and sees me in her door way. I tell her I know she took snacks from the kitchen and give her the speech about asking for food and she’ll be given it, she doesn’t need to hoard it. I then ask her why, of all the snacks, she took the common ones though we’d just gotten Oreos, Scooby snacks, trail mix. She told me that she knew we kept track of stuff like that and she thought she had a better chance of getting away with it if she took “the crappy snacks”.
I could not let her finish them because it was late and she had had her meds and 9 other kids would have lost it if I let her… but she got to finish them as snacks the next day…while everyone else had cookies.
18. That is technically correct.
My youngest, now 5, was pestering my oldest, now 8, a couple of years ago. He kept hitting and 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.