How Long A Punishment Should Last

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Below are the transcripts of this LIVE recording.

Hello impactful parent. Today we’re gonna talk about how long a punishment should last.

If you don’t know, this is question and answer Thursday, and I’m Kristina. I’m the founder of The Impactful Parent, and I come on every Thursday. I answer one of your questions that you submitted, LIVE, right here, and today we’re gonna talk about how long should a punishment last? Specifically, the question was, How long should the punishment last for lying? Now, my answer does not really depend upon what your child did to get the punishment or the consequence. I will give you a couple of resources out there that anybody would need to help them with this question. The first one is, How to discipline your child video. I’m going to give you this free video. You can find it at In that video, I give you different discipline techniques because one of the mistakes that parents make when disciplining their children is parents do the same stuff repeatedly. Eventually, that desensitizes your child, and it just gets a little boring for them. So, this video gives you other ideas and ways to discipline your child so that you could be more effective.

The second video that’s absolutely free that I’m going to give you today is, How to get my child to stop lying.  You can find this video at

Now, let’s get into our question today! How long should a punishment last? I don’t specialize in younger children, but I hear that in younger children, you’re going to use their age for the amount of time a punishment should last. Here on The Impactful Parent, we talk about school-aged children and school-aged children are different. As children get older, there’s a couple of things you really need to do to have an effective punishment. The first thing you want to do is discuss the consequences of the punishment with your child.  A huge mistake that many parents make is that they don’t do this!

How Long A Punishment Should Last

How Long A Punishment Should Last

Parents don’t talk about what’s going to happen if their child makes a particular choice. It is so much more effective for your parenting when your children know exactly what will be coming to them if they make certain decisions. You need to actually sit down with your children and discuss punishments and natural consequences that will come with their actions. You need to be very clear about what consequences will be for actions. Parents assume that their children already know. If a child doesn’t know what exactly, and I mean precisely, the consequences will be for their actions, then the child is more likely to say to themselves, “Maybe I won’t get caught. I don’t know how bad the punishments will be, so maybe I’ll take the risk.” Instead, a more effective way to prevent your child from making bad choices is to discuss the consequences. When your child knows the consequences of their actions, it puts your children into the driver’s seat.  Now their options become more apparent, and they can make better, more educated decisions.  Kids are much more likely to say, “I don’t think it’s worth the risk.” Plus, even if the child chooses to risk getting caught, they are more likely to graciously take the punishment instead of fighting it when this technique is used.

Now, let’s talk about the actual length of time that a punishment should be. This is another thing that should be discussed with your child when you are talking about consequences. You can either pick a length of time you feel appropriate to the offense or allow your child to have input on punishment length when discussing the consequences.  Either way, the first offense length of time should be discussed. With the second offense, the time should be doubled.  On the third offense, the time should be tripled, and an additional consequence should be added with the third offense.

Now, I know you’re asking, “What’s that time period?” Okay, I can’t answer that specifically for you, but I’ll tell you what I do as a mom of my four kids.  The sweet spot for me and my children is one week. Why do I pick one week? It seems to be a perfect balance between being long enough that it kind of stings because a week is a long time for a kid, yet the length of time is not so long that it seems to last forever.

How Long A Punishment Should Last

How Long A Punishment Should Last

Here is an example of what we discussed. My child and I talk about the consequences of lying together.  They know that if they are caught lying, they will have to write an apology letter to the person they lied to, and they will lose all computer and iPod privileges for one week.   If they are caught lying again, they will have no electronic privileges for 2 weeks.  If they are caught lying 3 times, they will lose their electronics for 6 weeks, they must write an apology to whomever they lied to, and only be allowed to attend social events if a parent accompanies them.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about consequences and what they should be. Natural consequences should be used as a first go-to punishment if possible.  If you have to pick a punishment, especially when you get into those teen years, consider your child’s really important. Is it the internet, is it a phone, is it a sporting event, is it a party?  Whatever it is, that’s your punishment.  You will be taking away those privileges or limiting them for a time period. Parents must follow through with their word! If you tell your child the punishment lasts for a week, then make the punishment last a full week. I have many parents ask me if their child can earn back their privileges for good behavior. Although I allow this “earn it back” scenario to occur for LESSOR offenses, I also tell my clients that you must establish that your word is GOLD FIRST.  Your child must know that you are serious, consistent, and your word is true.  If your child knows that they can make a wrong choice but recover from their mistakes easily by “earning their privileges back,” then they won’t take your punishments seriously and are more likely to risk getting caught.  Earning privileges back should not be the norm.  My child hopes to be able to earn their privileges back, BUT it is not expected.  My children know that I am not bluffing when it comes to consequences, and you want to establish this same kind of expectation.  Follow through with your word and be consistent.

If you have a question for me for next week, please email me at  All submissions are anonymous, and I might pick your question to answer for next week!