How to discipline your child: take him to the beach

Seaside selfie

They say there’s nothing that can’t be cured with salt water: sea, sweat or tears.

When you want to rip your hair out over your children – and you will, no matter how many positive parenting books you read or zen meditations you listen to – you may both just need a change of scenery and some headspace. What better place to get this than at the beach? (Advance apologies to all landlocked readers. You can achieve very similar results at a lake or a nature reserve with a stream. But somehow the beach just trumps.)

After coming head-to-head with my seven-year-old about his homework one day, I was ready to hammer his head into his neck with his lunchbox. I’d asked nicely, encouraged, cajoled, explained the rational reasons why homework is necessary and to his benefit, warned, threated, begged, and yelled. No go. Eventually I stormed out of the room. Why couldn’t I get through to him? What was wrong with him? What was wrong with me as a parent?

It was too early to start drinking, so I had to get creative. This homework was NOT going to get done now. Ignoring the problem wouldn’t make it go away. There was a disconnect between us – how could we reconnect? I decided we needed some “special time”, so I strapped him in the car and drove down to the beach.

He was a little surprised at first that his misbehaviour had resulted in a treat, but he rolled with it, bless him. I let him loose on the sand and he went wild, letting out pent up energy and no doubt frustration. I climbed up onto a rock and let the waves hypnotize some calm into me.

He clambered up next to me and sat down. I put my arm around him. For a while, we didn’t need to speak.

When I did speak, he was ready to listen. We talked about the homework: he told me it was boring and “not fun” and he didn’t want to do it. I heard him and repeated all my logical arguments. He nodded. We brokered a deal. I told him I loved him. He told me he loved me too. Must be the sea air.