We have all been there, frustrated with a child who won’t comply no matter what we try. Sometimes it takes creativity, and a little risk, to get your child’s attention. CBS news reported that Tanyeil and Don General had tried everything to get their 15-year-old son Trenton to bring up his grades. Even though they’d done what involved parents are supposed to do—helped their son with extra assignments, quizzed and tutored him—nothing was getting through.

"It was an embarrassment to us, that we tried so much to reach him and it seems like everything we did failed. It's extremely--it makes you feel like a failure as a parent." Tanyeil General said.

Then they did what many of us do—started taking away the distractions, including Trenton’s video games, cell phone, and computer. When the extra study help and the traditional punishments didn’t work, they took him to the doctor.

“The doctors came back with the report he was okay, there's nothing mental, there's no A-D-D .....A-D-H-D issues, no learning disability."

It’s simple, according to Trenton. He was bored. His mother didn’t know what to do. "I really wanted something that was going to be an eye opener for Trenton, I really wanted him to understand the severity of his grades." What they came up with might shock you. Trenton punishment involved standing on a street corner for two hours holding a sign that said he was failing algebra and English. The sign also said "my future equals shaky.”

Don says he received overwhelming positive reaction from law enforcement and educators who told him this was the kind of parental involvement kids really needed. The Generals considered the impact of this punishment on their son’s self-esteem, and concluded that it beat the alternative.

“What kind of self esteem will he have if he ends up with a will work for food sign around his neck in a couple of years or worse yet, in an orange jump suit with a prison placard around his neck."

Don characterizes his son as strong willed, and this was why they had to do something so out of the box to get his attention.

Ideas for Creative Punishments

You may not be ready to send your child into the street with a declaration of his failure, but what can you do when none of the conventional wisdom holds true? Time to get creative. The best punishments will be tailor made for the child and his or her particular “crime,

A few good ones we rounded up:

  • Focus on the Family has a whole series of biblically based discipline ideas. Some of them are pretty good, including using a timer to get kids to pick up quickly.
  • I love these modern punishments from a blogger who seems to know exactly what today’s kids are up to.
  • Supernanny.com takes a holistic approach to the overall punishment process. There are some good points here, including go easy on the first offense.

What’s the most creative punishment you’ve ever used?