I'm wondering, what's a harsh punishment? Where do you draw the line?

Krystyn - posted on 05/09/2011 ( 20 moms have responded )

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What's harsh, and what's too harsh? Yesterday my son was outside with two other kids who are 10 and 9. He was told not to go outside without telling anyone. When he got punished for going outside and not telling anyone, someone said it was too harsh to send a three year old boy to his room for playing outside with the kids, with no adult supervision. Tell me what you think about this.



Please. I just want to know, what would've been the "right" way to handle that. His punishment for going outside was to be in his room for five minutes, then he could go back outside. Is that too harsh?

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Karli - posted on 05/12/2011

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My 4 yr old did that just yesterday, I told him he can play outside in our fenced backyard while I get some cleaning done. I was dusting in my living room which faces our street and saw him with our neighbours son driving around the circle in an electric car. I couldn't believe my eyes or the audacity. I called him in and I asked him why he was out front, he said to play with his friend. I explained to him that it was absolutely unacceptable behaviour to do that without permission and he broke one of the rules of our house and he will not be allowed to go back outside to play that day. He could see his friends playing and asked me so many times if he could go and play and each and every time he asked me I reminded him of the morning and of the rule he broke. When I tucked him into bed I asked him how he felt about not playing with his friends. He felt sad, lonely, left out. I said that next time he wants to play with his friends he needs to ask first and if he doesn't that is the consequence. I think that letting him back outside to play is getting off easy, spending a few minutes in his room is nothing, if you want him to learn a new behaviour you have to teach it. Telling he can't do something doesn't really teach him what he can do. He needs to know his misbehaviour and he also needs to know what to do next time to correct it.

Jennifer - posted on 05/12/2011

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Yeah, like some of the others, I wouldn't have let him go back outside to play. As for the one minute per age thing, I think it all depends. And adding two extra minutes considering the severity of it wasn't going to kill him. As you said, anything could happen to him while he was outside unsupervised (EVEN if you DID know about it!) so he needs to realize there is quite a consequence to it. After all, in this scary day and age we live in where there are people who are crazy enough to snatch kids out of front yards (there's been such a story a time or two!) it's our responsibility to keep them as safe as possible, even if that includes giving a three year old a hard five minute lesson in time out and spending the rest of the day inside. Oh, the horror. (:

Karli - posted on 05/12/2011

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Hi Krystyn,
I'm sorry to hear about the fighting with your family, that is whole different nut to crack. It is unhealthy for your son to witness that and it does need to stop. You are pretty young and I'm sure that their hearts are in the right place BUT, you need to sit them down and tell them straight up that he is your son to raise and the fighting is not helping either one of you. It probably makes you second guess your parenting instinct and your son witnesses constant conflict. Tell them that their input is valuable to you but ask them to either wait until he is sleeping or tell them to ask if you would like their opinion first, if you don't really want to know than thank them but tell them that you have it under control and they need to take a step back and let the 2 of you figure it all together.

Gena - posted on 05/12/2011

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I dont think that was too harsh at all! But, I do agree with Tiffany, that I would not have let him go back outside after that!!!

Amy - posted on 05/11/2011

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I think you did the right thing, you can't protect your kids if you are not there. 9 and 10 year olds know a world of information that your little one does not need to be around just yet. I think you did the right thing.

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Angie - posted on 05/19/2011

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I definitely do not think that is too harsh at all. It's not like you grounded him for weeks or spanked him. You simply let him know his actions were wrong w/ a little time-out in his room. I would have done something similar.

Brandy - posted on 05/18/2011

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i dont think thats harsh at all, my daughter is 2 and everytime she gets into trouble i send her to her room, its kind of like her time out. some people just think they know everything but all kids are different and you know what works best for your son, i wouldnt worry about it.

Ashley - posted on 05/18/2011

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I dont think that was too harsh at all. And to be honest,i have swatted my lil girls tail too for going outside without telling me or her dad. Its VERY dangerous for a 3 year old to go somewhere without us. Kids are quick and can wonder off in seconds.

Lucia Susan - posted on 05/17/2011

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It's called a time-out. I personally do it one minute for each year of age, so I would have done it for 3 minutes instead of 5, but my son would also have been sitting on a step stool in a quiet place, not having the "luxury" of being in his room.

^^^^This exactly.

Sharon - posted on 05/17/2011

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Unfortunately these days we cant just let our toddlers run out the house when ever they feel fit to do so and I agree that you should know where your 4 year old is at all times. The 10 asnd 9 year old dont see dangers ahead as us mums do. Believe in yourself and your mothering instincts! you did the right thing. Particulary at this age I find that you have to be aware of not letting a four year old get their own way either as it will set you up for a fall in later years.

Meagan - posted on 05/16/2011

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They say that their time outs should be 1 minute for every year of their life, but that's a pretty serious issue, so the extra 2 minutes isn't the end of the world. What you did is a time out, same as people who stick their kids in a chair for however many minutes. I don't think it was too harsh at all, and hopefully it worked to drive the point across. Your son is 3, meaning he doesn't really understand why the road is dangerous, why not to go with a random person, etc. It is FAR too dangerous for a little one to be outside with no adult supervision. Hell, can't even let a teenager alone outside anymore! (True story: Someone tried to kidnap me when I was 16. lol) So, you absolutely did the right thing. You weren't punishing him for being outside and palying, you were punishing him for doing it without anyone knowing and I'm sure you explained that was the reason to him.

Ashley - posted on 05/16/2011

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I dont think it was harsh.. Ive done that with my 3yr old.. Although a few times my son would get upset and start throwing a fit, so he had to stay in time out longer, but eventrually he did stop and was able to go back outside. the only time I let my son be out side unsupervised is when hes in the back yard, which is fenced in all the way around.. He loves the dirt, so thats an easy way to get a break from him, is to let him outside..lol

Carmen - posted on 05/16/2011

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I don't really believe in time-outs for kids that are that small. I do feel however that a proper talking to and NOT letting him back outside would be totally appropriate.

We live on a plot and our piece of land is kind of fenced/walled. However, there is a section with at times longer grass and simply for the sake of snakes, I would not want him to play unsupervised there. It has happened occasionally that he followed the cat into the long grass and I just went to fetch him (he only just turned two) and then closed the door. He loves the outside and I make a plan that he gets outside time whenever I'm there. However I work full time and most of the time he is with nanny. But our rule is, in general no unsupervised time outside. If he plays with his big sister, different story. However then she knows that she must look after him. Not sure if a 3 year old should get punished for going out alone, are they that aware at 3 already? Seem to have forgotten. It sure does not harm to teach him, however I think it would be wiser to just lock the door to the front yard or to put a security gate. I mean it is an awful responsibility for such a small child/still actually a toddler to kind of know that kind of behaviour? It's like trying to teach a 1 year old not to put his little fingers in a plug. They are just so small, it's better to ensure there are plug protectors in there.



Would you not feel responsible if a car had driven over him? If you do, then rather put a lock or some sort of a device that he can't even when he forgets the rule. After all, 3 is really young to carry that responsibility and awareness. Just my two cents.

Krystyn - posted on 05/12/2011

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Thank you guys. now that i think about it, him goin outside to play afterward was kinda giving him a reward. guess thats like taking something away and after he throws a tantrum and calms down, you give it back... (not that i give whatever it is i took back, but the analogy) he doesnt really learn anything. Thanks for the feedback n advice. ... To karli, i live with my family and they think its too harsh to have the three year old in the house when all he wants to do is play, so im constantly fighting with "my family" about my son. most of the time he does end up stayin in the house for the rest of the day or i go out there with him after he stays inside for a while. i constantly fight with them about my son and everything i do with him or how i punish him. i see how its kind of a reward to take him back outside after being punished for being out there without an adult.

Tiffany - posted on 05/11/2011

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Sounds good to me. But I wouldn't have let him go back out to play after. He kind of just got rewarded by getting to go back outside. We live in scary times...no child should leave the house w/out asking. Especially a three yr old.

Sinclairbrooks - posted on 05/11/2011

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It's called a time-out. I personally do it one minute for each year of age, so I would have done it for 3 minutes instead of 5, but my son would also have been sitting on a step stool in a quiet place, not having the "luxury" of being in his room.

Krystyn - posted on 05/10/2011

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To September, we have a house that sits on two acres of land, its a nice size backyard n on the small side of a front yard but we're on a busy road. Its just the fact that he is three and he needs adult supervision, anything can happen and if something does happen no one would ever know if he's outside by himself.
To Kimberly, they do have to learn and the only way he is goin to learn is if he gets punished for what he does wrong.
To Kim, theres been times where he's gone outside and i have spanked his butt for it... Hes even ran out in the street (not here, n thank god not in a busy street) and ive busted his butt for that too. its just some things

Kim - posted on 05/09/2011

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In all honesty, I might have swatted my son's little butt for going outside without adult supervision! At that age, it's still possible they could run out into the street and get hit by a car! That's very serious! and no, time out for 5 minutes isn't harsh at all. You were a lot nicer than I might have been ;)

September - posted on 05/09/2011

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I don't think that's too harsh but then again I would not allow our 3 year old to play outside unsupervised…unless I lived in the outback somewhere…and we don’t.

Kimberly - posted on 05/09/2011

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I don't think it is too harsh. They have to learn to follow the rules. It's not like you beat him, he just had to take a 5 minute time out...totally reasonable.

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