I need a good CONSEQUENCE...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    for difficult child 1 CONSTANTLY taking too long in the shower/bath. Even timers don't seem to work. He just turns it off.

    So give me your best suggestions for a reasonable yet effective consequence for his continual disregard for house rules. I say showers should not exceed 10 minutes. Period. No more of this running for a half hour or until the hot water tank is empty!!!
  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    We have had a lot of Asian exchange students stay with us. They tend to take very long showers. At least half an hour a day. I'm not sure how it works, but there's something to do with heating being done with water and hot water always being available. Their English is not very good, and we only have them for a couple of weeks or so. Their first night they always bring home an interview list of household rules. One of the questions on the form is "How long may I use the bathroom for a shower?" It's just husband and I with two bathrooms, so at first we said "as long as you want." We figured out soon enough to explain the difference between how much water and how much time...

    Anyway, when they didn't seem to understand and needed their half hour long showers, I would go down to the water heater and shut off the hot water inlet valve. That ended the shower really quickly. I'd turn it back on half an hour or so later. I just claimed that the water heater didn't work well or didn't hold much hot water. Kids don't know anything about inlet valves! Give it a try! :D
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    OK, you have an advantage in your location, I think. From the specs, I assume "SoCal" means "Southern California"? If so, then switch difficult child to an Aussie bush shower for a while. I'm actually considering installing one for use after a swim at the beach. I spent some time living with one of these, made by my father, from scrap pieces and spare bits. The house we lived in at the time (up north, on the coast, off the beaten track a bit, fairly wild place) had no running water; all we had was a rainwater tank at the back door, with a tap leading from the tank for use in the kitchen. It was a cold water only tap. We DID have electricity, so we would boil water in the kettle. To wash up after dinner, we would fill the kitchen sink with water from the kettle.

    The shower - it was made from a 4 Litre plastic jerry-can shaped bottle (the sort with a moulded in handle). My father had cut a large hole at the top so we could pour the water in easily. He had then attached a shower hose lower down on the side of the plastic bottle, using plumber's tape to give a water-tight seal around the flexible metal hose. On the wall he had two hooks above head-height - the first hook took the full bottle, the second hook, higher up, took the shower head (on the end of the long hose). To shower - we filled the plastic bottle with two kettles of cold water and one kettle of hot, then hung it on its hook. All this hung over the bathtub (which emptied under the house, which was on stilts - you could look through the plug hole and see the ground below and hope nobody was trying to lie under there and peep through - unlikely, the place was miles from anywhere).

    So I would strip off, get in the bathtub and reach for the shower head. As soon as the shower head is lowered below the level of water in the bottle, the water flows. But there isn't much of it! So I would have to quickly wet myself all over including my hair (if I was washing my hair) then hook the shower head back up to stop the water flow. Then it was lather time - shampoo the hair, soap up all over, scrub - whatever I had to do. Then rinse - lift down the shower head. Use the water efficiently. If I was careful, I had enough water for a second shampoo and a conditioner treatment as well.

    I learned to be very efficient with my water use, because running out halfway through a shampoo was very annoying, I would have to get out, get dry, get dressed and go to the kitchen to fill the kettle.

    Camping supply stores have all sorts of camp showers, but the one my father made was very simple and very effective.

    I would seriously suggest setting one up outdoors, tropical island-style as a garden feature. And until he can follow a timer, make him use one of these for washing (he can wear swimming trunks for modesty). If nothing else, it will teach him to appreciate water. After all, we are showering with water that is drinking-quality, there are many places in the world where water of that quality is just not available even for drinking. we need to learn to value our resources.

    (I also have to admit - I sometimes got fed up with trying to use our bush shower to wash my hair, so I took to going to the beach for my daily swim with my bottle of shampoo; after my swim I would use the cold shower at the beach to wash my hair and use conditioner. No time limit there! But it WAS cold, and totally out in the open, so I always had to keep my swimsuit on.)

    The hot water system - husband & I have been chuckling, because easy child 2/difficult child 2 and BF2 were doing this to us, with their shower usage. They would shower together (it doesn't save water like you would think) and would drain our HUGE solar hot water tank, leaving none for anyone else. easy child 2/difficult child 2 has waist-length hair (but so did I when I learnt to use a bush shower) but BF2 has shoulder-length very thick frizzy hair, tight curl. It goes into an Afro if he doesn't slick it down and pull it back hard into a bandanna. Hair that thick just won't wet easily, the water just runs off it. I've seen him at the beach - he emerges from the waves, his hair dripping - then you see his hair emerging DRY form the water, it's bizarre. So to shampoo it, it takes a lot of shampoo and a lot of water. I do get that. But not 400 Litres, guys!
    And now - they live in a small one-bedroom flat which has a 20 Litre quick-recovery hot water service. When that 20 Litres is drained, it's got to re-heat. because it's quick recovery, it WILL reheat immediately, it takes about half an hour. Of course, this is far more expensive to run (they haven't had their first power bill yet).
    easy child 2/difficult child 2 was wailing at us how to get her lovely, deep, hot baths that she says she NEEDS, she has to run the hot water with no cold, then wait until it reheats (half an hour) then empty the tank again. She has her bath, then before it's completely cold BF2 climbs into the tub (tricky, because it's narrow and he has broad shoulders), somehow wet his hair and then shampoo it with another tankful of water.

    I wouldn't recommend getting a quick recovery hot water system. They cost a lot to run because they're draining electricity at peak use times. They're also a blasted nuisance. But they ARE the heater of choice for small apartments.

    By using a bush shower, you're not punishing him so much as giving him an opportunity to learn a different perspective on water. I increasingly disagree with punishment. However, natural consequences - THAT I believe in. And using a bush shower could be an interesting experience for all the family. It's also a good way of cleaning up after a muddy session in the garden. If you look around, you could find ways of using nature to help you - paint your water reservoir black, for example, to save having to fill your bottle using the kettle. Just check before use that it's not TOO hot!

  4. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    My daughter was a hot water drainer. It quit when I started shutting the water off when the timer when off. I'd just go outside and turn it off. Of course, I made sure to not be around (wait in the car with a book, leave and come back) so that she couldn't take her rage out on me. She got the message when she had to go to school with shampoo still in her hair.
  5. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    For every minute he exceeds the shower limit, it's that many minutes off bedtime, favorite activity, whatever.

    When easy child was consistently late coming home at curfew earlier this year (first a minute, then 2 minutes, then 4 minutes, then 10...you get the idea), I told him that for every minute he was late, he had to be home 30 minutes earlier the next night. Nipped that right in the bud. (I had help with that idea from fellow board members and it worked.)
  6. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I like Heather' idea! For every minute over the 10 he's alloted, he gets minutes off whatever he really likes!!!

    Make sure though that he understands the reasoning behind the time limit. He's old enough to explain - although I figure you have probably already given him the expense issue.

    Time for time sounds like a great solution as long as you are taking the time away from something "really good".

  7. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    kt loses shower time the next day ~ her shower time is precious. (kt's showers are self calming & I seldom mess with it). I had to survive my dad turning off the hot water heater.

    It really depends on how explosive your difficult child is & how your difficult child responds to change of physical stimuli. I wouldn't turn off the hot water on a child who explodes with or has any type of sensory issues.

    Possibly difficult child should have the last shower of the day or morning & learn what it's luck to run out of hot water.

    Good luck.
  8. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, if you are forced to spend the money on water, then some other bill has to go. How about cable TV?
  9. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Sound like a plan! "Sorry honey there is only so much hot water that's whay you need to shower quickly!"

    Sneaky--but it is the perfect logical consequencce.
  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I went with turning off the hot water valve. Now, difficult child takes a bath then a short shower right afterwards. I let this go at this point because he sweats and needs all the personal hygeine he can get.
  11. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    My brother used to stand in the shower and fall asleep with his head against the wall. He's still be in there today, if we hadn't come up with a solution.

    ...our bathroom door had what we called a "thumb-lock". You could literally unlock the door with your thumb. My sister and I would unlock the door and sneak in (it felt like hours getting into the bathrooom) and then toss a glass of ICE COLD WATER over the top of the shower curtain!


    Course, then we'd run like hell!

    Good luck!

  12. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Along the lines of what busywend suggested, does your difficult child 1 get an allowance? With difficult child 1, you could do some calculations about how much the extra water from his long showers is costing and subtract the cost (or some of the cost) from his allowance.
  13. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Lots of good ideas here... I'll have to ponder them a bit and see what works best.

    When he got out of the shower last night, he asked me if he was late (since I'd made a big deal about his time limit). I asked him to look at the clock and he was shocked that he was 25 minutes late! I asked him to write that number down because that's how many minutes of chores he would owe me for today :D He agreed to it -- even volunteered to mow the lawn! I know he's not trying to be disobedient, but he's also not trying very hard to remember either!

  14. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Shut off valve.... Quick, easy, hard to forget.
  15. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Since he's doing it without thinking, I'd definitely go with shutting off the water. It might help him get a better sense of time he's in there.
  16. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Yep, that was my thought too. Nothing like a good strong solid blast of cold water to make you shake your buns and get a move on! lol

    On the flip side of this too....you can always offer a longer shower as a reward. He does so much of X, he gets Y minutes extra in the shower.
  17. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    That's good too. You know, an egg timer works wonders on this stuff. Give him 11 minutes, one to heat up the water. He does the dinner dishes and kitchen to your satisfaction (not like M used to do it taking an hour and a half and getting nothing done just to avoid homework) he gets an extra couple of minutes.
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Eleven minutes in the shower? That's a lot. We have to aim for five minutes, three for preference.

    Shutting off the hot water is good, if you can do it. It's not an option for us, nor for a lot of other people here. Our hot water systems work differently Down Under; either that, or they're in the bathroom! Most places here have off-peak, which is a larger tank that only heats up in the wee small hours of the night. Once the day's supply of hot water is gone, it's gone. Plus our water is getting increasingly expensive. Every drop of water now, is logged on our bills and also compared to the previous year's use as well as the previous quarter. There's even been discussion of publicly naming and shaming people who use too much water. Maybe you could do a similar "name and shame" within the family? Or threaten to do so? If you link it in to the need for everyone to contribute to the family unit (and to not detract from it either) then an over-long shower could be balanced on the slate with contribution in other areas. And if they find a better way to still wash but use less water, then that should deserve some credit.

  19. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    He's 14...I'm guessing he's doing more than showering in the shower (but I'm sure you dont' want to think of that as you're his mom). If he's doing it for his asthma, maybe he needs the steam?

    Make him take a bath. If you're in SoCal, you can't let the water be wasted. I'm in CA too and I know some cities are imposing a 100 gallon a day limit, which is tough with laundry, dishwasher, toilets, showers, etc. Remind him we're in a drought. Maybe have his dad talk to him about what he's doing in the shower and find a solution for doing it somewhere else.
  20. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Marg, husband & I rarely take more than five minutes in the shower unless I'm shaving. I'm sure most adults don't have time (or money) for much more than that. Every couple of weeks, husband and I share a bath in our oversized tub. It takes the whole water heater, though. We wash clothes in cold.

    11 minutes is a long time. And kids don't think anything of standing around looking in the mirror while the hot water is running. But if the limit is 10 minutes, you have to give them at least one minute for the water to heat up. Our water heaters are usually on the far side of the house, and it takes quite a while for the hot water to get to the shower. If the limit is 5, you have to give them 6...