Discipline: Military Mom Style


A good friend of mine, another Marine spouse, recently called me and told me about an incident involving her 2 sons. They’d been in the car for several hours and were about 30 minutes from home when the kids’ bickering reached a fever pitch and my friend reached her limit. She pulled over on the side of the road, under a tree.

Then she kicked the boys out of the car. She sat in the air-conditioned vehicle and told them to stay out in the heat and humidity until they’d solved their problem. Each time they tried to reenter the vehicle, she’d ask, “Are you done?” and wouldn’t let them back into the car until they’d resolved their disagreement and were completely done with the bickering.

I heard from her again just last night. Earlier in the day, her oldest son was mouthing off to her while they were in the car. This time they were on the Marine base where they live. She pulled over to the side of the road and told him to get out of the car. Then she told him to do 10 push-ups. After 2, he thought he’d done enough. She informed him he had 8 more to go. Around this time, my friend noticed a Marine running by doing his lunch-time PT. He looked like he was trying to not laugh.

And lest you think my friend is alone in her discipline technique, I know another Marine spouse who often made her 4 kids do push-ups as punishment. I’d try this myself, except my girls would probably just think it was fun. They get that from their dad.

About the Author

Marine Wife

Marine Wife is a former Army Brat who married her Marine in 1998, making theirs a mixed marriage. She has two Devil Pups that keep her on her toes and threaten her sanity daily.

But that might only be fair since Marine Wife just might hold the record for getting her husband called on the carpet. Hmmm....that might be why he now enjoys the fact that she never took his name.

While Marine Wife often wonders what it would be like to live at the same address for longer than 2 years, she enjoys all the adventures that life with the Corps affords. OORAH!

  • J

    Funny stuff. PT is a great attitude corrector.

  • http://armywifetoddlermom.blogspot.com AWTM

    I have puled the car over often……
    but the push ups, i think it is brilliant

  • name must not be bla

    to be honest. I force myself into push ups when I can’t get the negative thoughts out of my head. It helps! Yea to parents that parent. If my kids bother me then it’s a sure sign I need to help them not act so irritating. And it’s always at a time when I’m really busy and preoccupied.

  • dagamore

    Oddly once when on a TRADOC Post, I was giving corrective training to my nephew that was being whiny, and told him “Half right Face, get down and push” it was funny most of a platoon behind me getting ready for evening pt dropped and started pushing. Nothing like the Drill SGT trying so hard not to laugh at his troops. Working so hard to keep up with a 5 year old. I still giggle when I think of that.

  • http://wileygoeswalkabout.blogspot.com AussieCoyote

    I don’t have kids (yet) but I have used the push up routine to discipline the folks who work for me. It works great as a punishment for idiocy!
    I can see myself doing the same thing as a mum…

  • Apryl

    I haven’t resorted to the pushups…but I have done multiple time outs on the side of the road in downtown Santa Monica and also on the freeway in Ahwatukee, AZ. I pulled off onto the way right shoulder for that. But he knows I mean business now. Not sure the push ups would work but definatly something to keep in mind for when he’s older.

  • Smiles

    My cousin has 4 boys. The oldest is in 6th grade. They often have to do sit-ups and push-ups as punishment even though they are not a military family. They have perfect form from all the practice. :-) Their Dad doesn’t want them to hate exercise though so sometimes he offers rewards for push-up and sit-up competitions. The boy that does the most sit-ups in 3 minutes will earn $3 that he can then put in his piggy bank.

  • J

    I like that competition idea.

  • http://saravido.blogspot.com Sara V.

    Absolutely brilliant. I love it.

  • http://homefrontsix.blogspot.com HomefrontSix

    We’ve not had to resort to push ups or sit ups…yet. We have had to have them run because they were just physically unable to sit still. Our church has a driveway that is on an incline and, when my children cannot sit still for the life of them, you’ll find us outside while they run the driveway – in church clothes.
    Now, I *do* have them “brace the wall” – 4 points of contact up against the wall – if they are acting up while we are out and about. They have really good posture because of it. DH had to go through similar stuff while he was at WOCS which is where I got the idea.

  • http://kitchendispatch.blogspot.com/2009/07/post-trip-ramblings-and-cake.html The Kitchen Dispatch

    Well done!
    Discipline means to help someone understand how to follow a code of conduct. A plan of discipline has both negative and positive consequences. Her moves are fine, though the onus is up to her her to find out the antecedents are that fuel the undesired behaviors.
    Their behaviors are common. Fights in the car, fights with siblings, mouthing off. The important thing is that she looks at the overall tone of the environment and tries to identify what’s setting it off so that she can try to alleviate the situation as she sees it coming on, or even anticipate it, so she doesn’t get caught off guard.
    With consistency, a gentle touch, balance of both positive and negative consequences, all of this works over a period of time. The bigger battle is making sure the other parent or authority figure is on the same page.
    When they are older and bigger than her, it will be impossible to order them out of the car to do pushups and the lot. At that point, the discipline she’s doing now will pay off if they instill the fact that bad behavior has negative consequences.
    We all go through rough patches with kids. She’s not alone.

  • LMT

    This truly makes me LOL. Simply because we have done this a great deal over the years with our boys – and it works. Matter of fact, they were made to dismount their ponies a couple of weeks ago and had to do push ups on the spot. Their instructor also uses this “punishment” with our blessing. He uses it when needed for any of his students, he is a former drill sgt.
    Any type of PT is excellent in helping us driving our parental points home. :)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00e0099439968833 GBear

    Not only with military parents, but my son has seen military soccer coaches! During a tournament a player kicked a soccer ball over the goal. He immediately dropped for ten. The ref was a bit thrown off, but the coach told him to play on, the player would catch up once he finished his required push-ups. The player was definitely incentivized to kick more accurately so as not be a burden to his team-mates who had to make up for him while he did his 10 push-ups! You can bet he made his next goal.
    Personally, I loved it! I got a chance to talk to my kids about what the player learned, what his team-mates learned and why that player would strive to place his kicks more accurately in the future!

  • AEM

    One of my friends uses sit-ups and push-ups not as punishment, but as a barter. For every push-up or sit-up her daughter does, she earns one minute of usage on either her iPod or NintendoDS. Also, if she does one page of either math or vocabulary workbook exercises, that wins her two minutes on her electronics.

  • cjgcat

    I like the idea, never had to do that with my son, although he had a science teacher that had the students do a certain number of push-ups for each minute they were late to class. After the first month he said hardly any of his fellow students were late for class.

  • bekers71

    I think this type of discipline is great. It get’s there attention and they remember what they did wrong for a while. My husband and I have used the push-ups with our kids, 5 boys, and it works. The bad thing is, where we live we’ve been told this type of punishment is child abuse and they could take our kids away. How is it abuse? I’m not sure. I feel like it’s better than spanking or time outs that don’t work after the age of 3 yrs old.

  • pmtz

    Great idea, but; teachers, don’t do it in the classroom because here in Texas it is called “Corporal punishment”. signed: ex-marine, ex-teacher.

  • jim

    Bekers, I think you need to move if making a kid do push ups is child abuse. Spanking is ok too, if it’s a spanking, not a beating, there is a difference. I’m not service but I pray for all of them. Good luck to all of the service members and their at home spouses with their daily activities. I wish you all a safe return.

  • http://myspace.com/luckeymom Kerry

    My hubby is ex-Army (after 11yrs) and yes my boys as well as many other kids I know, do PT as punishment. Not only does it make them think twice it burns some energy and makes them healthier. I know a mom who “article 15’d” her son cuz he broke a car window..priceless lol Gotta love military parents

  • Chrystal

    I so agree with this technique! Growing up my father was in the Marines and he and my mother would make all four of us kids do squats, push ups or run for punishment. Not fun! I have done the same with my kids and younger cousins and nieces and nephews. It works!

  • Erika

    Brillant. I’m going to have to remember this.

  • Gail

    My husband is retired Army. He did 20 years in the Army and we loved every minute of it.
    Having your kids do push ups and sit ups for punishment works. Even teenagers will do them if they are in trouble. Why you may ask? Well, it is because they were brought up doing them. They have respect for their parents and they do not rebell as much as other teenagers. I have two grown sons. Each son behaved differently. Both gave us little trouble in their teen years. Once they saw that we cared enough to correct their mistakes in a positive way, they took the time to respect us. Now that they are grown they say they are going to do the same for their kids.

  • John G

    I have used push-ups, sit-ups, and leg-lifts for my two boys and daughter since 2006. I have even pulled over so they can do push-ups. It certainly gets their attention and sometimes wears them out enough to stop fighting. It has been over 1 year since I had to assign push-ups and much more peaceful! For fun, my 9-year old can now do 50 at a time for contests.

  • Danielle

    I love it! My dad is Navy, but never used this for punishment. Maybe if he had I’d have been better behaved as a teen! I’ll surely use it for my kids!

  • Charity

    My husband is an Active Duty Marine, and while we were at Camp Pendleton, I would babysit for my spending money while he was deployed.
    I babysat for a Colonel who said that his wife would always tell the children, “No. You can wait until your father gets home.”
    He said the kids would whine and say, “But Dad’s not going to be home for [X ammount of] months!!”
    And his wife would always respond, “Well, if you still want to do it when your father gets home, then I guess you wanted to do it bad enough.”
    Another family I babysat for was super religious. They had two daughters (ages 3 and 4)that would always act up. The mom kept telling me I could disaplin her daughters, but I never would; it didnt work for me. Finally I came up with the perfect punishment: prayer. I wouldnt make them just appologize to me and each other, I would make them appologize to God.
    There was one time, they were running around the house like heathens, and not listening to a word I said, when suddenly a picture in the other room fell off the wall. The girls stopped and I went to investigate. What I found was a picture of ‘The 10 Commandments and God’s Law’ had fallen to the floor. I showed this to the girls and told them that it was a sign from God that they we’re being very bad. They immediately knelt down, prayed for forgiveness, appologized to me and ran to their rooms. When I went to check on them 10 minutes later, they were sound asleep taking their (most dreaded) naps!
    I have considered rigging a picture like that to fall in my own home for when I have children! The truth is, the picture weighed too much for the hook it was hanging on and had finally met its demise. It just happened to be perfect timing for me! :o)

  • http://swordsmanswife.blogspot.com/ SwordsmansWife

    I just made my almost 3 year old drop and give me 5 yesterday on the pavement. Boy was he whiny!!! It broke the cycle and made him laugh when I picked up his patootie and helped him with the last 3. If only the smiles would have lasted longer…

  • Dana

    I must be here to say this… to the lady that said spanking doesn’t work after 3 years old…. I gotta tell you, it most certainly does. My husband is about to sign in the Air Force, you will NEVER see me on the side of the road having my children in the heat doing pushups or whatever else you can come up with … i promise you once my children are pass the age of 5 they wont have to recive many spankins… they will KNOW what is and what is not acceptable in MY house. if you start spanking them young..they will know. this i promise you ladies… i was spanked… not many times… i knew wat my daddy exspected out of me. didnt push the line. and i turned out highly respectful of people. and a level head on my shoulders. stopin on the side of the road and makin them do push ups will only make them dirty and sweaty….and mad. but everyone has their own ways. hope it works for you ladies. and yall dont raise some punk kids that we all see on tv all the time

  • PJB

    Pulling weeds by hand was our personal favorite. It got our “blended” family outside, exercising, working in the yard, and they seemed to forget what they were arguing about to begin with. We always had the best looking yard in base housing!

  • Air Force Wife

    We use push ups and burpees around here for punishement. We make the kids do 30 for each indiscretion. My neighbors have commented on being able to hear the kids count out “1-2-3-4…..” They think it’s great! My kids will either be the most obediant or the most buffed…it’s up to them!

  • Ann Peeples

    I think she did the right thing. I am a grandmother and I believe in correcting children. The law will not let you spank them so making them do exerise is a good idea. I am also a miltary spouse of 39 years. I thank your husbands for serving.