The problem I have with apologies, time outs and spankings is that, while they do curb behavior, they don't benefit me. As an avid practitioner of Lazy Parenting, I am all for whatever gets the point across AND makes my life easier.
So they clean.
Instead of, say, two minutes sitting on a bed thinking about how mean mommy is and unjust life is, cleaning up ten things really gets a point across. Complaining about it or trying to pull a fast one gets that number upped considerably. Lying results in a punishment of cleaning 100 things. (Thanks to the manufacturer of Polly Pockets, that number isn't as ridiculous as it seems.)
Cleaning's also a useful bartering chip in other ways. If a girl, for example, would like a piece of scotch tape to reinforce her roly-poly habitat, she knows that costs five things. If you want to go outside and play, that's great. Just as soon as you go clean up 20 things and get your shoes on. Or it's time to go to the park and we'll leave just as soon as the trains are all put up.
It has a lot of benefits, really. Their rooms are generally picked up, it gets done in short, easier bursts and they are becoming math whizzes when it comes to counting forwards to 100, backwards, by 5s and 10s, and subtracting to see how many things are left. It seems to have more impact than time out and the physical movement gives them a chance to really get into their grumbling. It takes just about the right amount of time to get their head cleared before they return to mommy to chat about it.
There have been a couple of times when the girls wanted to buy something and they were able to earn their money at the rate of one dime per five items cleaned. And when Dowlan got his traffic ticket last week, Dixie was thrilled to not be the only one in trouble. She told him, "Daddy, tell mommy The Truth About What Happened." When he was done, she told him that he was going to have to clean a LOT to get to Two Hundred Dollars.
The problem is that ,well, there are five members of this household, but only one lacking sufficient impulse control for her age. And the extreme disparity in punishments meted out has not gone unnoticed. Last week, it was time to go somewhere and I told Melody to go clean ten things. She got indignant and said, "Well, Mom. I'm not even Dixie and you want me to clean?!?!!"