The Effectiveness of using Writing as Punishment

Writing as a punishment gives “sentencing” a whole new meaning, but it’s a method that has plenty of excellent possibilities.

If you go to bed thinking of bunnies, chances are you’ll dream of them. And if you spend an hour or more repeatedly writing an instruction, chances are you’ll remember it for quite awhile. A young child may not listen to one word you say, but put those words in a child’s head by forcing him or her to think about writing them, and there is no choice but to let the words sink in.

So, go ahead, have your little troublemaker write sentences like, “It is not nice to hit people,” one hundred times. If nothing else, simple writing assignments keep a child out of trouble for as long as it takes to finish the job. They also are a decent way of practicing penmanship, so long as you advise you’ll be reviewing it to make sure they didn’t go down the lines writing one letter at a time over and over again.

For older kids, repetitive writing isn’t the most effective punishment because they’ve crossed into the land of critical thinking. This should be obvious – when a child’s transgressions clearly took a lot of planning, more planning needs to go into the punishment.

At this stage, the most uncreative writing punishment would be an essay or research paper on a topic related to the crime. For example, if Tommy tries to drown the family cat, he should write an essay or report related to cats and how to care for them. A more creative approach would be to take Tommy on a tour of the local pound or visit an animal hospital, then have him write two well-thought out stories – one from the perspective of a pet owner losing a furry pal, and one from the perspective of the pet. Creative writing punishments like this would not soon be forgotten.

Here are some other ideas for writing punishments, using “Tommy” as an example:

* Did Tommy steal? Set up a short interview with a local lawyer, judge, a bailiff, a jailer, etc., and sit in on court proceedings involving a person accused of theft, then have him write a three-page essay about what he’s learned about a thief’s future.

* Did Tommy lie? Set up a mock trial at home with family members and ask him to testify about something. Then show why he’s not a credible witness because of the previous deceit.

The list goes on. Get creative.