Okay, callin in the experts on this one....


New Member
All right, I am calling in the experts for this one, you guys have got to HELP!!!!

Our difficult child has been putting forth a GREAT effort lately to get along with her little sisters, and my husband and I have been ENCOURAGING this behavior in any way we can, so when she offered to take them to the park this morning, we thought it was a great idea. It is only a few blocks from the house and we didn't really have any plans, so it seemed like a good idea. Boy was I wrong!!!

Apparently, as the story comes from the 5 year old, she spent a great deal of time there crying because our difficult child left them alone at the park and went to the bank to get suckers and then left the bank and went someplace else and got a soda. Not sure what to make of the 5 year old's accusations, I tried to find a creative way to get the 3 year old to tell me without telling her what her sister SAID so that I could compare stories... So I asked the 3 year old if her sister was crying at the park, and she said yes. So I asked her why and she told me because (difficult child) left them at the park alone and went "somewhere else". Then I asked if she came back with anything when she returned and she said she had suckers and a soda with her. So I am convinced that my 3 year old and my 5 year old are not conspiring against her and I believe them. The question now is, WHAT DO I DO WITH difficult child?!?!?! She KNOWS this is WRONG and that it is absolutely NOT allowed to leave the children alone, and there has to be a consequence, but I just don't know what. I think she should be grounded or something, but if she is, it will definitely be for at least a week or more, and next weekend is the homecoming dance, so if I ground her, she will miss homecoming. Do you think it is too much??? It is definitely a given that although we will continue to encourage her to spend quality time with the little ones, it STILL must be done under our supervision!!!

I don't know, maybe some of you will have suggestions of a good consequence for this action.... HELP!!!!

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
If it were my daughter, she'd be considering herself very lucky to be grounded and NOT going to the homecoming dance. Because what I would actually DO to her for leaving two very young children alone in a park would be far more PAINFUL than a simple grounding.

Think about all of the things that could happen to two little kids, the worst that could happen, and then think of her punishment. difficult child needs to learn what she did was serious, not just doing her own thing for a few mins.

But I'm the mean Mama.



New Member
I hear you, she really IS lucky that she isn't home tonight. Because BEFORE I found out all this happened, I agreed to let her go spend the night with her Aunt. So I guess that it is probably best for HER that she isn't here tonight, otherwise I would have probably already tore into her BIGTIME. On one hand, I am hoping that I can calm down overnight and sleep on it and be a little less TICKED tomorrow by the time she gets home, but on the other hand, like you said, thinking of the horrible things that could have happened, it makes me hope that I am still LIVID by then so that I can really make an impression.... geez, who would have thought that she would ever pull a stunt like THIS?!!?

Being new to having a teenager in the house and being so used to only dealing with my little ones, it is tough for me to think of appropriate consequences for some of these things that she comes up with!!! If anyone has any suggestions, I am open to anything at this point!!!

Thanks! You guys are the greatest!!!


It sounds like the reason she "wanted" to take them to the park was a cover so she could get out of the house unsupervised to do what she wanted.

I don't think missing homecoming is too much. Definitely a grounding is in order. And she would have to earn back some trust, too.


Active Member
I think the biggest, loner-term punishment is going to be the natural consequences of having to earn back trust, BIG TIME. I agree with Heather, I was thinking the same thing - she offered to take the kids to the park so she would have an excuse to do what she wanted.

When talking to her about this, ask her what she should have done. Make it clear you know she just wanted an excuse, she wasn't simply being helpful; if she wanted to buy a soda (what are suckers? I thought you meant she had suckered some people at the bank into giving her money) then what should she have done?

Leaving the others alone like that was very wrong. You also need to deal with her over this without (if possible) dobbing in the other kids. Is it possible that someone saw your other two kids crying and they have since called you? That way the five year old isn't going to be blamed for tattling on her sister. difficult child needs to know that she is being watched, even when she thinks she isn't. Otherwise she will try to do this again, only she will also bully her sisters into keeping quiet about it.

The other question - could this have happened before? Has she ever offered to take the kids to the park, or similar, on other occasions? And was it just a soda she was looking for?

I do remember 13 - I was a fairly nerdy kid, but I remember girls I knew, who were in my grade, hanging around the bus stop corner in the town so they could flirt with the older boys. One of these girls got really angry with me when I let slip that she was in my grade (ie jailbait).

Having your little sisters with you is not conducive to picking up boys.

So I'd be grounding her - sort of - indefinitely. Go nowhere unsupervised. Account for your time going to and from school. No getting home later than usual, or mum will meet the bus. No going for unaccompanied walks. None of this until she realises what she did wrong, and has earned back the trust.

Homecoming - I don't really 'get' it, things are too different here. If it's supervised I would let her go. Maybe. If she's hoping to meet boys there, I would be really mean and put the brakes on, because she's just demonstrated that she's not responsible enough to be involved with boys.

Swings and roundabouts. You have to balance it all. SHE has to balance it all. If she wants the freedom to go where she wants, she needs to also have the responsibility to do what has to be done. Adulthood isn't a free pass with no ties. The sooner she learns this, the better her prospects will be.
As parents, we don't sit around all day trying to make up fresh tortures for our teenage kids. Instead, we spend most of our time organising our lives around the needs of the others in the family, ensuring that our parental responsibilities are met. If we stop with friends for coffee in the middle of the day, it comes at a cost of the time we had hoped to spend on another task later on. If we do nothing, the washing is not done and the stove is cold. No food on the table. Kids have expectations of their parents and yet seem to feel that adulthood = total personal freedom. It sure doesn't and the sooner she takes this on board, the sooner she really begins to grow up.

Good luck.



Well-Known Member
She can no longer be in charge of her much younger siblings until she proves she is responsible. She should also be punished (no phone/computer/tv?) to drive home just how horribly dangerous abandoning the children can be.


While I can't suggest the "right" consequence for her actions, I would consider having her take a babysitting course at the Red Cross or local hospital (most are 6 to 12 hours of instruction). I also think this is a wake-up call for you. Just because she's a teen doesn't make her responsible enough to watch her younger sisters. Most of our difficult children are emotionally younger than their chronological ages. We still don't have difficult child 1 babysit for his sisters (who are older than your little ones) for extended periods of time, and he's 14. While he's responsible most of the time, he still lacks the emotional maturity to use good judgment in every situation. In your shoes, it would be a very long time before I trusted your difficult child to take care of her sisters unsupervised.


Active Member

A sucker is the same as a lollipop - a bit of hard candy stuck on a small stick that the kids :censored2: on.

Homecoming is a dance held in the fall, usually tied to a school football game and often with school alumni returning for the dance along with current students.


Well-Known Member
I agree with TM - you have to do something to get through to her how very serious this was! Being grounded and missing Homecoming activities is a very small price to pay, considering how thoughtless and dangerous what she did was! If this was my daughter, she'd have a lot more to worry about than just being grounded! Like Dr. Phil says, you need to "turn her world upside down"! And starting right now, your trust in her has to be down at "zero" and she will have to earn it back, little by little.

I don't know where you live, but in most areas if children this age were found in a park by themselves, somebody would call the police and CPS would be getting involved! What a mess that would turn in to!


Well-Known Member
She put the little ones in a very unsafe position and she is fortunate that they didn't have an accident while she was gone, or worse.

It is clear that she cannot be trusted with the younger ones yet. I agree with not allowing her to go to homecoming. She needs to see how serious this is and how terrible the outcome could have been.

I think what we have to remember as parents of difficult children is that their chroniogical age is often vastly different from their emotional/maturity/social age. That age number is not always an indication that they are ready..........

I know it is going to be a tough conversation when you dole out the punishment. Keep strong.


Mrs Smith

New Member
I think the more natural or logical the consequence, the better. She proved that she can't handle being unsupervised so the logical consequence is she doesn't go anywhere unsupervised by you. I would ground her. Adding the fact that she left the little ones alone, I would make it a significant time. Missing homecoming is a bummer but I bet she'll remember it. That's the goal. I'm glad no serious harm was done to anyone.


New Member
If I were in your shoes, I would probably be downplaying the seriousness of the incident because nothing happened. However, the others are absolutely right, this is very serious. Unfortunately, she was probably manipulating to get what she wanted. Each incident alone doesn't seem like a big deal, but if she is manipulating to get her way, it can, and probably will, only get worse.

Did she really think there would be no consequences to leaving her precious siblings alone? She took that chance and obviously thought you wouldn't find out. Missing the homecoming dance should just be the beginning. There will be more dances, she's young. I would try to steer the conversation in a way so that she tells you what happened. She needs to be sent a clear message that this is unacceptable, otherwise you may as well just tell her she can do what she wants and get away with it. Good luck!!


New Member
I think I'd be a tad meaner than not allowing her to go to Homecoming -- I'd let her go but I would be there to watch her every second. There's nothing like a mom or dad around to put a serious damper on things. Something tells me she wouldn't like this dance too much. At least at 13, she'll have several more to attend before graduation. Grounding would just get her mad and not quite teach her much of anything as I learned the hard way. Having mom and dad show you how to babysit is a more natural consequence and might just get the message across a little more effectively.

I actually would have a bit of sympathy for your daughter if it weren't for the fact she volunteered. My older sister always had to babysit my brother and me. She would get so fed up doing it, she would tie us together and then to something like a clothesline so we couldn't get loose and then go do her thing. She told us in great detail what she would do to us if we told. We never did.


Well-Known Member
in my humble opinion, going to homecoming with her really does drive home that she has proven herself irresponsible enough that she herself still needs supervision. I am betting she will not go if you are going with her.

My difficult child did this with her little brother. She brought him (5) to the movies (mind you he is a difficult child himself and very active!). Little did her stepmom know she was meeting several friends there as well. They all sat together. She got up to get something or see someone in the lobby while the movie was playing and left him there with her other friends. Friends he had never met before.

I believe the punishment was to never be able to take him anywhere alone again. My difficult child was 15 at the time and really figured since her friends were with him she did nothing wrong.

She could not process what could have happened to them due to her own selfishness. In other words the soda and candy mattered more to her than the safety of your children. This is really what you need to find a way to make her understand. And the seriously messed up thought that it truly is.


New Member
Well, you guys certainly made me feel better about being a bit harsh about this. Also, something her therapist mentioned was writing assignments. I was thinking that if she were to be grounded, since she will have lots of free time on her hands, maybe she should write about all the things that could have happened and how she would have felt if something HAD happened, and how she thinks we would have felt if something had happened. Her therapist told us that for things she gets in trouble for, the ultimate goal of punishment has to be for her to think of what she did wrong and realize the seriousness of her offense, and she has found that often if parents make their children write it down, it can have several purposes. Number one, you then KNOW that the child really DID think about what they did, and number two, it helps the parents understand their take on things so that you know how to proceed in the future.

And see, this is something else that makes it worse, at least at our house. It has only been two short weeks since something horrible happened to a small child that we all know because someone turned their back on him for only one second. So we are still all dealing with that one, and it has made me a little more paranoid about my little ones (even the 13 year old!)

I don't know, have any of you ever tried to make your kids write about the situation when they get into trouble??? If so, have you found it to be helpful?

And don't worry, I learned my lesson, they will NOT be going anywhere or doing anything unsupervised with her for a LOOONNGGG time, if ever.


Well-Known Member
I certainly wouldn't worry about a 13 year old missing homecoming. That's really for older kids anyways. I'd never let difficult child babysit again. I didn't let my daughter babysit her sibs even at 17 because she was NOT responsible. I'm guessing that your daughter knows she wasn't babysitting right. Maybe she'll feel silly when you have to go out and a peer of her comes over to watch the younger kids. That's what I did, but I'm "mean" too :wink:


New Member
I love the idea of going to the dance with her. This truly is a natural consequence. She can't be trusted unsupervised, so now she'll be supervised in everything she does.

Before that suggestion was mentioned, my input would have been to keep her home. She can't be trusted out on her own, so she can't go.

If this were one of my kids, they'd be on some serious "hard labor" grounding. Meaning I would be making them do chores all day long. If I ran out of chores in the house, I'd be having them out in the yard doing yard work. I do believe in natural consequences, but I also believe in our society, punishment is part of the consequence.

Somewhat related, when my oldest easy child was 3, I was a single mom with he and his 1 yr old brother. We had just moved into a new apartment and my moms husband took him to the park that wasn't terribly far away the first day we moved in. A few days later it was nap time, and my room was in the back of the apartment and he and his brothers was down the hall towards the front. I was exhausted, so I laid down after laying them down. Well, about an hour later I was woken up to someone knocking very hard on my door. It was the Police Department. My 3 yr old easy child had decided to go to the park. He climbed up on the half wall next to the front door, unlocked the handle, the TWO deadbolts above as well as the chain lock, put on his shoes and shut the door behind him. A family of illegal immigrants found him and didn't want to get involved with the police, so they gave him to another family. They called the police and he could tell them he lived in a new apartment, but we were surrounded by apartments. He knew his name, so the officer took him to several different offices until they matched his name to the names listed as occupents in the apartment. I cried hysterically and just kept telling myself what a horrible mom I was. To this day, my 12 year old easy child still remembers how upset I was. After this happened, he would draw pictures of himself at the front door with a red circle around the door and a line through it, like a no-smoking sign, but this was a do not go outside sign. He would lecture his 1 year old brother for years to come about the dangers of going outside without letting mommy know. I was amazed at how much my emotional reaction hit home with him.

Maybe some serious crying all the while talking about the possibilities of what could have happened to your 3 and 5 year old will touch some empathy in your 13 year old difficult child?


Well-Known Member
Have you thought about saying something like "I got a call from so and so. She said X and Y were at the park unsupervised. I assured her that wasn't the case as you were there. Right?"
And you know the look on your face when you say that: Unemotional, an icy stare with perhaps one eyebrow raised...


Roll With It
Try the writing asignment in conjunction with not letting her go ANYWHERE without you. Not ANYWHERE except school. Meet the bus if you can for a while, even. I remember that my difficult child hated walking home from the bus so I would meet hte bus and drive slowly while he walked in the heat. Go to the dance with her, I mean WITH her, right next to her all evening. Keep her in your sight for a week or so.

Use the writing assignments, give them back if it looks like she just wrote any old thing down with-o thinking.

You have close knowledge of what could have happened. Wrap yourself in that and nip this in the bud. Every time you start to soften, think of your little ones crying alone, or being taken from you. It will give you the steel in your spine to handle all that your difficult child throws at you.

I also recommend going to http://www.loveandlogic.com and listening to some of their free downloads. Gives you some new tools to handle this stuff.




Active Member
in my humble opinion forget about the consequences and try to create a learning situation where there is no blame but reflection. Conequences in most cases just get the child thinking what happens to me and how unfair you are , the agenda moves towards dealing and enforcing the consequence.
So I would have a chat with your daughter , thank her for taking the kids and say that they enjoyed the suckers and soda. Then just describe in a non judgmental way , that the 5yo cried when she was left alone. Say that you are not interested in punishing her but you want to be able to work out a way where they are supervised all the time and you can still treat them to soda and suckers. You want her to empathize with a young child who does not feel safe and that a park is not as safe as she might think etc. You want her to reflect and discuss these things with you. One solution would be for you to buy snacks etc for them to take to the park. Basically what you have done is shown you want to trust her and problem solve. A consequence is likely to make her negative towards her siblings , they got her into trouble and less likely to want to take care of them. Instead of ' teaching them ' a lesson , why don't we take mistakes as a window of opportunity for learning.

Here is a quote from Jane Nelsen
Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children DO better first we have to make them FEEL worse? When people first hear this quote from “Positive Discipline,” they usually laugh as they think about how it doesn’t make sense. However, when it comes to application, it seems that parents, teachers, and students have difficulty accepting that people do better when they feel better.

From the author Eli Newberger
The method of withdrawing privileges is essentially negative: I can't communicate with you, and so I'll hurt you if you don't mind me. The positive counterpoint is: We all make mistakes, and you can trust me to help you do better in the future.