Nary a week goes by that some person in a checkout line doesn’t exclaim, “Three boys! You must be a strong momma not have a head full of gray hair.”
First, I smile and admit that I dye my hair. Second, I whisper my secret, “Creative punishment.”
Hubby and I have two rules for raising boys:

  1. Make sure they know the rules and always discipline when they break them. 
  2. Never let them guess what the punishment will be.

I’m not talking physical discipline here folks, shake those imaginations out of their sleep mode and teach the little one a lesson all while marking some honey-dos off your list! Any ole’ parent can ground, issue a time-out, or scream. A great parent keeps their children guessing!
Be it a page full of the words I will not leave the garage light on, washing the car, cleaning the stock tank or condemning them to clean the *gasp* toilet, we always strive to make it tough enough to make a lasting impression. Luckily, our farm offers any number of things that little hands can fill buckets with: rocks, pecans, weeds, chicken feathers…
But what do you do when collecting a bucketful of pecans won’t teach the hard lesson? What if the transgression has been dealt with time and again and nothing has changed?
Though all of our boys have hearts as big as Texas, they do occasionally struggle with the inability to keep a thought to themselves rather than saying exactly what they think. Whoever said words can never hurt me was a liar. Words are like arrows, striking the very souls of men.
How do you convince a child that their words have power?
Such an occasion arose last weekend. In a split-second decision, I reached for The Spirit of America by William Bennett rather than release the scolding words that were perched on the tip of my tongue. I laid out a letter that Benjamin Franklin wrote to the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1750 entitled Rules for Making Oneself a Disagreeable Companion.
Together, the child and I read the letter, stopping frequently to dissect the meaning. Then the boy was asked to write down all the characteristics he shared with the Disagreeable Companion. By the end of the exercise, we both were reminded that even great men must earn their regard both in action and with their words.