They all stood there looking at us in a line, some with sad faces and others trying not to nervously laugh or show any fear. The writing was on the wall, only it was real writing in marker. As parents Mr T & T and I had a decision to make. Would we use the Divide and conquer approach in hope of a confession from our children?
As a parent, in the workplace or in other settings you may have witnessed the divide and conquer or punish and take down the culprit approach. It’s an old method that I sadly see used often still.
Does it work?
I’m pretty sure the person who was throwing spitballs in class or making noises behind the teacher’s back didn’t give a crap if everyone was kept in, and they still threw spitballs in the next class. After all they weren’t really caught and they were free to do it the next day.
Everyone else didn’t want to suffer the possible wrath of the culprit so kept their mouth shut and dobbing just isn’t cool.
A lot was learnt in our early years of parenting especially on that day of trying to discover who wrote on the wall. If the offender doesn’t care and is testing the boundaries then punishing everyone in hope of a confession will not make even the smallest ripple in their “I give a toss” river.
When you are tearing your hair out in frustration because you are parenting a repeated “let’s see who I can get in trouble or what I can get away with” offender, then it’s time to catch them out with your best detective work; gather your evidence and approach them directly. Pulling your child aside individually and giving them the chance to tell you first, before informing them that you know and making sure the punishment fits the crime (in this case it was cleaning the wall and a couple of extra ones). If they fess up then it is very important to let them know how pleased you are that they told the truth.
In a world of being political correct, trying not to hurt people’s feelings & egos and lawsuits
I hope our children will always know that it’s better to tell the truth – and if you mess up then try and fix it, move on and learn by it.