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Disciplining without a confession

(19 Posts)
WineOhWhy Mon 26-Sep-11 19:01:54

i have 2 DCs 6 and 7. Over the weekend there were 2 instances of drawing/writing on furniture, one worse than the other. Luckily it wiped off with no lasting marks but they are old enough to know better. Neither has confessed despite cross-examination! Based on circumstantial evidence, I have a good idea who it was but I cannot know for certain. There is a chance it was the other one, or (in the case of the worse incident) one of their 2 friends who were here at the weekend, although I would be surprised if a friend had the opportunity to do it without one of my DC seeing. worth saying that DCs and friends are all normally well-behaved so this would be out of character for whoever did it
Obviously I want to disciplne whoever did it both for lack of respect for property and(even more so) for lying (ie failing to confess). I have tried quite hard to get a confession without success. So what do I do now? Would feel bad if I punished the wrong child.

wellwisher Mon 26-Sep-11 19:10:42

I would discipline both. Maybe the guilt of seeing the innocent one punished will flush out a confession from the guilty one!

Greensleeves Mon 26-Sep-11 19:12:41

Sorry, but I wouldn't dream of punishing a child unless I knew damn well they had done something wrong

If I couldn't get either of my children to tell me they were responsible, I would talk to them about trust, say that I was sad that whoever had done it didn't feel they could be honest and leave it at that.

lechatnoir Mon 26-Sep-11 21:08:26

Are they saying they have no idea how it got there or blaming each other? If you're absolutely sure one of them either did it or is covering for a friend (ie one know something) and assuming you've had a proper chat about trust, respect & not covering for a friend in situations like this, I'd give them a final ultimatum & 24 hours to respond (ie give them a chance to speak to their friends)
Either: friends are not invited around again/this month/year & BOTH lose privileges/grounded or whatever for 2 weeks
OR the guilty party owns up & they lose 1 week of privileges for doing the writing but there are no further repercussions for their actions because they are being honest.

I think the most important thing here is you are showing them that whilst they did a naughty thing, by not owning up/lying, it's escalated into something far bigger and the punishment now has implications not just them but everyone else involved.

dearheart Mon 26-Sep-11 21:12:33

This is all quite harsh. They probably both did it - encouraging each other. I would just assume that the cross-examination was unpleasant, withdraw some kind of treat and leave it at that. It's not that big a deal - don't you remember doing anything similar as a child (I certainly do).

WineOhWhy Mon 26-Sep-11 23:47:22

Eek. The mixed responses add to my confusion about what I should do. I feel like if I dont punish at all, it is rewarding lying ( because they know I would punish if I knew who did it). I have already tried to extract a confession by indicating I would punish both I have also tried talking about trust, as has DH. It did not work. Although I normally follow through on punishments, I would feel bad doing it in this case because I am pretty sure ( but not 100 % sure - happy to share facts if that helps) which one did it.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 26-Sep-11 23:56:33

Why not try something like "no pocket money for either of you as I will have to spend it buying a stain remover and no sweet treats this week as I am disappointed that you are not being honest with me".

That way, you are admitting that you are not sure who did it and the punishment is not too harsh, but they are being punished.

WineOhWhy Tue 27-Sep-11 00:02:00

Ok, so the 2 incidents are as follows:

Incident 1- heart drawn in pencil on breakfast bar. Dc1 was sitting at the breakfast bar to do her homework. I am pretty sure it was her - she is a dreamer and I can quite imagine her doodling without really being fully aware. However, she denied and dc2 was sat in the same seat earlier in the day to eat her snack (there may well have been pencils)

Incident 2. As DCs were going to bed we noticed writing in pencil on the bannister ( full sentence). Clearly more deliberate than incident 1. on questioning both denied knowledge but dc1 knew what bit of the bannisters we were talking about ( we have several flights of stairs), dc2 dd not. Dc1 claims she knew because she had noticed the writing earlier in the day and forgot to tell us.

They had friends round between us noticing incidents 1and 2. It was dc1 wasnt it??? but she was so adamant in n her denial, and such a good girl normally, I am not qukte 100% sure.

BertieBotts Tue 27-Sep-11 00:03:59

Is it practical to lock all pens/pencils away and only give them out under supervision for a while?

WineOhWhy Tue 27-Sep-11 00:09:01

Yes I could lock away pens, apart from homework time which clearly I could supervise more closely. However, this would be more f a punishment for dc2 who is artistic and loves drawing than for dc2 who on circumstantial evidence is the more likely culprit.

dearheart Tue 27-Sep-11 08:08:21

It was dd1! I'd say 'i don't want anyone drawing on Walls or furniture' with a meaningful stare. If she's good normally that would probably be enough. Then I'd just leave it. And I'd leave the sentence on the bannister too - you'll like it when she's 18!

StrandedBear Tue 27-Sep-11 08:16:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wellwisher Tue 27-Sep-11 08:46:53

I still say punish both. They're so close in age, if they learn now that they can avoid punishment for their crimes ;) by sticking together and both denying everything, you will have 10 more years of this!

SouthernandCross Tue 27-Sep-11 08:52:39

I'd just talk about how we don't draw on walls because that's vandalism and means someone has to clean it up. Don't fish for a confession, just hand them both the cleaning materials and leave them to it.
I'd be tempted to take photos first though...

cory Tue 27-Sep-11 09:04:54

Then again, if you punish both and it keeps reoccurring you may end up in a situation where the non-perpetrator is constantly being punished as part of the deal. Dd went through a phase where she was doing these things deliberately to get ds into trouble: she didn't care if she got punished herself too as long as he was. She only confessed years later. Which was a little harsh on ds.

I found the more I pushed for a confession the more they both denied it- and the more the misbehaviour intensified. So with hindsight I should have gone for something like what Southern suggests.

But it depends on the children and the situation. I never got a confession out of either of mine through lecturing on dishonesty or offering a reduced punishment tariff. But obviously it works well with some children.

SouthernandCross Tue 27-Sep-11 09:23:26

Cory, the reason I tend to go more for 'consequences' these days is because last summer we had a huge sunflower growing in our garden closest to the house. I was so proud of it and loved watching it get a head on it. It was just about to flower when one day I came downstairs and it had been snapped off, a couple of inches below the head. It sounds silly but I almost cried. The kids had been playing in the garden with balls and stuff and I assumed one of them must have done it, so I sat them all down and explained how upset I was and asked what had happened. They all said they knew nothing ( Aged 8,7,4 and 2) and this infuriated me. I pleaded, threatening and cajoled and told them that none of them were watching TV for a week. I grilled them all separately and offered rewards for who ever told the truth. I even told them I have video footage of the area and if when I watched it, I saw what happened the culprit would have to go to bed early for a month. But no one caved and the older two got very upset I didn't believe them.
A couple of days later, the sun came out ( remember how bad last summer was?). We have an awning that comes out automatically when it's sunny and I looked up because it was making a weird noise. It was stuck on what was left of the sunflower and was obviously the cause of it breaking in the first place. I was mortified and showed the kids what had happened while I apologised profusely! The kids have never let me forget it either. blush
So if 'Mr Nobody' visits our house these days, I just lump them all in it together and leave them to sort it out. If it's something specific I usually find the one that did it feels terrible enough without interrogation, and eventually confesses anyhow. At which point I'm usually not as cross about it as I was when it first happened and we don't have the fuss we would have had otherwise.

madam52 Tue 27-Sep-11 10:12:46

My mum used to say ' Even though you didnt do it - Dont do it again '

My mum is Irish with very typical and had very typical cutting humour/delivery.

Confused me for years as a child tho grin

I used it on mine in later years if I knew they had done something but wouldnt confess especially during the teenage standard 'deny everything' years.

madam52 Tue 27-Sep-11 10:15:04

My mum had very typical Irish dry humour and cutting delivery. ??

Oh you know what I mean !

Fennel Tue 27-Sep-11 13:59:05

If I really want an honest confession I waive punishments, and just ask for the truth. That's quite good for finding out what really happened.

As a child I also did this, drew on the wall and blamed the neighbour's children. I wasn't normally a trasher of furniture. So maybe I'm a bit soft on this one particular issue. Sometimes it's just very tempting to take pen to wall or furniture. We have a kitchen wall the dds can draw and paint on freely - you could consider that, a grafitti space.

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