This, basically. Serious can look like a lot of things it turns out. It's more important to me to have an insight into what is happening and how we might address/solve it than to hand out consequences.
I agree that figuring out what is going on is important - but then when you figure out how to address it there are consequences. Solving the problem doesn't always happen through talking and connecting. Especially since the OP's child has done this before. One person above stated natural consequences of losing freedom and privileges, and I think that's more of a logical consequence than a "natural" one simply b/c naturally nothing would happen at home?
Karenwith4 - What types of activities would you do as a family to gain perspective, develop gratitude and responsibility? I'm not trying to be snarky I promise, I'm looking for tools to put in my toolbox for later!
Well for our family that would be volunteering, service work etc as a family. I don't think that imposing that work as a punishment has the same positive effect as integrating it into our family values. It would also get integrated into things like the books we would read, the tv we would watch, the news stories that would get discussed around the table and the relationships we would foster (positive role models/mentors etc).
But I think that this sort of thing is best used as a proactive rather than reactive tool. Empowering kids to be responsible for their actions, connecting them to their community in multiple ways, creating a sense of gratitude, instilling the attitude that they can use their power and energy to make a positive difference is something that IMO has the most value and benefits if its integrated into family life from an early age.
I have a friend who works at a homeless shelter and he takes his son there whenever he feels like his son's perspective is getting out of whack with their family values. In the particular case of the OP I would probably read and discuss Greg Mortensons's books, watch and discuss the Girl Effect video, volunteer as a family locally at a struggling school or fundraise to build schools in developing nations, invite someone to dinner who has a perspective on this to share.
Punishments and consequences aren't necessarily the same thing. And, they don't necessarily have to be bad. When used effectively, it's a lesson. I agree that a proactive approach is usually best, but no one is perfect and we can't all be proactive about everything. In addition, not all reactive approaches are necessarily bad.
IMHO, cleaning up graffiti around town would be a punishment and not really effective if that's ALL it is. However, it becomes a natural consequence and a lesson if discussions of why she's cleaning it up, why it's wrong to deface property etc occur at the same time. Discussions about how it would feel if it was her property, how it makes the owners feel etc etc. The idea is to get her thinking about the real consequences of her actions. Just talking about how someone else has to clean it all up doesn't always work. Having the child experience the real clean up, sometimes many times over, can be very effective for some kids.
I'm not sure if you are taking exception to my post or building on the conversation.
I don't necessarily disagree with you. Cleaning up the graffitti may help develop perspective depending on what lies at the core of this particular child's actions and the discussion part of it may help - but only if the child is in the place to hear it. We don't know enough about this situation to say. Regardless of the reactive/corrective actions that might be appropriate in this circumstance, if I were faced with this I would also be putting in place proactive tools and strategies to develop gratitude, connection and responsibility. I was responding to a direct question to me about what those would look like in our family and suggesting that they might be better proactive tools than reactive ones based on that question.