I Need Creative Punishment Ideas for My Lying Kid

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PunishmentSo here we are again, and it ain’t déjà vu. I got off the phone this evening with Mrs. Harris, an administrator at Girl Child’s school, who chuckled after I asked her when report cards were coming home.

“They were distributed on Friday. At the parent-teacher conferences.”

I didn’t even try to hide my disgust. “Ugh. Skylar didn’t tell me about any parent-teacher conferences. And she certainly didn’t tell me that report cards came out.”

“Of course she didn’t,” Mrs. Harris laughed. Because after being a student at the same school for the past four years, even the staff has gotten to know my kid pretty well. And though she’s sweet and bubbly and bright, she’s also got a calculating little lying streak that compels her to hide information from me, like report cards and mid-term progress notices. 

It’s not like I don’t find out so I can’t figure out why she keeps doing it if she hasn’t, not even one time, been successful in staving off the fallout from bad grades by trying to keep me from seeing them. I feel an old school throwback spirit when I light into her with: “There is nothing new under the sun, my dear, and what you did is no exception. Do you think I didn’t try to pull the same tricks when I was your age? Puh-lease.”

Now that? That right there is a déjà vu moment. My mother used to tell me the exact same thing.

I got the lecture in middle school, just like Madame Skylar, except I tried to put my mama’s signature on a rancid progress report in algebra. No need to bother her with all of the melodramatics of me getting a D, I reasoned. I’d seen Mommy sign her name thousands of times, so after several practice runs on scrap paper, I finalized it on the pink carbon copy that had been sent home.

When it got flagged by Ms. Hines for being fraudulent, I got flogged at home for being dishonest. And, apparently, a not-so-good forger.

Now the circle of life has recycled those fine, memorable moments and multiplied them times two because my child gets in hot water a heck of a lot more than I ever did. After confronting her along with one of her teachers when I picked her up from school, I discovered not only has she backslid into the kind of bad habits that make her suck academically — after getting her school year off to the best start in recent memory, mind you — she’s talking in class and flitting around in the hallways.

Since homegirl wants to be a social butterfly, I thought about making her stand out in the street and tell passersby that she is not only ruining her chances of getting into the two high-profile high schools she claims to want to attend (and just shadow visited), but she’s wasting the money that her single mother hustles up to pay in tuition so she can attend a decent school now.

Then I thought about condensing that into a snarky saying on a pin that would read something like “Ask me about my grades” or “Let me tell you about my behavior.”

I also considered going with her to school for a week to 1) embarrass the hell out of her and 2) show her that the way she behaves when I’m sitting in the desk next to her is the way she needs to behave every single day.

We’ve done the whole no TV, no laptop, no phone thing more times than I have fingers to count them on. We’ve done the whole regressive, now-you-need-a-homework-journal-and-it-has-to-be-signed-by-your-teachers thing. We’ve done pep talks and lectures and motivational speeches by everyone from yours truly to folks she respects at church. We’ve done the whole volunteerism thing because I thought she needed to know that the world is so much bigger than her and her gaggle of corny little girlfriends.

But here we are again, in need of a punishment to fit the crime and, preferably, a learning experience behind it.

I’m open to all suggestions.

What’s been the most effective punishment for your child so far?


Image via ansik/Flickr

behavior, issues, school

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nonmember avatar Emily

Hmmmm grounding? If she doesn't have full access to the corny girl friends maybe that would help?

Zamaria Zamaria

The most effective thing for lying that I did was treating my son like a liar. Everything he said, I acted like it was a lie. He said he wanted ice cream? He must not want any because he lies. Says homework is done? He's probably lying. Says chores are done? He must need to go do them because I can't believe him. I did that for a week. It takes a lot of work on the parent's part, but we haven't really had any trouble since then. My dad did the same thing to me. It was annoying and frusterating, but I remember thinking that lying just wasn't worth the trouble.

PonyC... PonyChaser

When my son was still little (6, in KG), he started lying to his teacher that he didn't bring his lunch, so he "had" to buy lunch (he's allowed one hot/school lunch per week). When I found out, he didn't get any more hot lunches for that month. And I found out in the first week. For a little guy, that was a really big deal. And I reminded him nearly every day why he was bringing a lunchbox when they were having chicken nuggets at school.


I would say, aging it forward for Skylar, perhaps she's serious about going to those fancy schools. Well, if she's already lying and thinking that's going to give her the grades to get into those fancy schools, she's not going. If it's the "bigger picture" you want her to get, then tell her that she's going to have to work for her schooling from now on. If she doesn't value it enough to respect it while you're paying for it, she's going to have to pay for it herself. That means getting a job. Babysitting, pet sitting, cutting grass, raking leaves, etc. Every cent she makes goes toward her tuition. As her grades improve, her financial contribution drops. And if the grades stay low, perhaps some seriously tough love is in order, and she goes to the not-so-great school for a semester. Make her realize just how important those good grades are - how they earn her the luxury of free time. If she keeps up the grades, she doesn't have to do outside, money-making work, and she'll have time to hang with the corny girls.

mommix4 mommix4

Good luck cause my son is 13 and we are dealing with the same grade crap. Every year its the same laziness. Gets very frustrating

nonmember avatar TJ

You could stay one or ten steps ahead of her. Ask her teacher (if she has more than one ask the most cooperative one) to let you know when reports go out. The school should have a calendar that states when these events take place. Then, simply schedule it into your computer and cell phone a few days prior to the big event- progress reports, report cards, conferences- and if possible show up to pick up said documents or for the conferences. Don't let her know that you will be doing this, just appear at her school. If she complains, just tell her that you can't trust her to keep you informed and if she doesn't want these embarrassing things to happen, then she will need to cooperate with you. Does she receive and allowance? Mom's not going to be giving her HONEST hard-earned money to her lying offspring. Showing up at her school sounds awesome, too. I also like Zamaria's suggestion. Trust with our kids is first given to them, but when they break it, then it has to be earned.

RMT1995 RMT1995

In fifth grade, my best friend was goofing off in class and not getting the best grades, so her mom came in to school with her. She was MORTIFIED. And it worked. I, too, would have been humiliated to have my mother sit next to me for a single class, let alone for a day/week. I'd say it's worth a shot - she will be more embaressed by that than any pin or standing in the street with a sign. It's forcing her to do something she wouldn't want around her friends, her peers, any boys she may potentially have a crush on, etc. It's brilliant. I'd suggest do it for one day and then warn her if she's out of line again, it'll be for 2 days next time, or a week.

nonmember avatar jen

I like that ponychaser! I'll definaty file that away for preteen years. Is it shes lazy, or that she needs some help because the big picture could suggest a learning problem? Maybe a local learning center

3gift... 3gifts.from.god

My DS had some trouble getting to his different classes on time (He had 3 different teachers in 5th grade), and in from recess or lunch. After a couple calls from the school over two days I decided he needed some help getting from one place to another, so after the second call from the vice principal at 9am, I slipped on my tinkerbell jammies and went down to the school to "Help" him find his way to class on time. ALL day long. At the end of the day I told him that I loved him, and his education is so important to me that I would be 100% willing to do that every day if it would help him get to where he's supposed to be throughout the day. I said it totally seriously, and he assured me that my assistance would not be needed. We never had a problem with tardiness again.


You may need to do the same, to make sure you get all the notes the school sends home. You will just have to go get them yourself in the morning. Be sure to hold her hand on the way in. Assure her that you care enough about her to do it every day if that's what will help her get notes to your hands. Just make sure you are embarass the hell out of her when you are at the school.

Tracey Plummer

First of all, if you don't know what's going on at school, it's YOUR fault, not your child's. YOU are the parent, so go parent.


My daughter is in first grade, and she started not completing assignments a few weeks back, just out of the blue, but because I talk to her teacher all the time, the teacher emailed me right away asking me for advice/help. We solved the problem in a matter of days, and my daughter learned a valuable lesson when I asked her teacher to give her extra work to make up for the bad grades. Lesson: don't do the work now, do LOTS of extra work later.


Now I'm not saying that every problem will be that easy to fix, but having a dialogue with her teacher means that I don't need to rely on my daughter to tell me when conferences/report cards are, because I ALREADY KNOW!!!!!  Also, her school has an online "parent portal" that keeps track of everything and every time she gets a single grade under 85, I get an email. I can get online and see her grades, her attendance, her disciplines, heck I can even see what she has for lunch every day.


We want our kids to be responsible, but I've always thought that they learn best by example. If I want her to be responsible for her own eduation, then I have to show her how to do that, not just sit back and expect that she will figure it out on her own. 

nonmember avatar FLYing in NC

I suggest flylady.net, get her the student journal, and make sure she follows along with the flykids system. it will teach her responsibility in all aspects of life, and she will be less stressed bc she will be more organized. That leaves time for her to have a social life, which everyone needs, while still maintaining her grades!

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