July 19 11

“The sky is blue.”

“Actually it’s more like a shade of turquoise-ish aqua.”

“Josh! If I want to say it’s blue, then it’s blue.”

“But you would be wrong Isabella. Just like always.”

“That’s not true! It’s blue!”





Now, as a parent, I rarely get things right. I pack the wrong lunches. I serve the wrong dinners. I clearly don’t help enough when it comes to Emily’s Medieval Times report. I don’t cuddle enough. I cuddle too much. I am so mean for forcing Isabella to brush her hair. I buy the wrong yogurt, the wrong milk, and the wrong cereal. I listen to the wrong music, I watch the wrong shows, and I sign the kids up for the wrong activities. I don’t buy the right sandals, or shorts, or t-shirts. I am horrible for not buying my pre-teen a cellphone.

It’s amazing that the three of them are still alive and breathing, isn’t it?

But, there is one thing I do that’s 100% right.

I have got this punishment thing down to a science. A very sneaky, sneaky science.

It’s simple, really.

If you disrespect your sibling? 5 minutes of hand-holding.

If you raise your voice to your sibling? 5 minutes of hand-holding.

If you make fun of your sibling? 5 minutes of hand-holding.

If you argue for the sake of argument about the color of the sky or any other such nonsense? 5 minutes of hand-holding.

Nobody likes it.

Nobody, of course, except for their Mama.

Mostly because this method of parenting actually works for us, and, well, because it makes for adorable photos.

  1. Brilliant!! I’m adding this to my bag of tricks… thanks!

    Comment by mapsgirl on July 19, 2011
  2. I am an older brother of the three of us siblings. My mother did this to us growing up (hand holding) and I still shutter and resent her for it. We are not close and this was one of the reasons why. 10 years later and they wont call or visit me though I’ve always kept open communication. Just thought I would give my take on it.

    Comment by Fred on December 22, 2014
  3. Oooooh. That’s good. I shall implement this rule immediately. Can you see my evil smirk as I rub my hands together? This? Is gold.

    Comment by Liz on July 19, 2011
  4. You may as well let him get his licks in now – because in a few years he will be wrong – always wrong – and at least he will have these memories of his time as a child when he was wrong – but could convince a female that he was right.

    Comment by lceel on July 19, 2011
  5. I think I’m going to have to wait ’til they’re a little bigger to try this one out… they’re not old enough to be properly grossed out by sibling hand holding yet.

    Comment by Jessica on July 19, 2011
  6. There’s also the “hug your sister for 5 minutes” that I love to do.

    Comment by Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] on July 19, 2011
  7. This helps to solidify my thought of stopping at one kid….no rivalry to deal with!

    Comment by Adrienne on July 19, 2011
  8. ha!

    Ahhh…but then no hand-holding to photograph. 🙂

    Comment by ali on July 19, 2011
  9. But then you have a case of only child syndrome. Having to deal with your only child fighting with all the other children over silly things. Only children are more often then not (sadly) more selfish and close minded.

    Comment by Brianna on November 30, 2012
  10. This.is.awesome. My second baby is on the way. We will have two kids, 19 months apart. I am so going to remember this and use it one today. Probably often. Thank you!

    Comment by Stephanie on July 19, 2011
  11. This is genius. I am stealing it anon. Looking forward to their next brawl in 5…4…3…2…

    Comment by Marianne on July 19, 2011
  12. Mine are 18 months apart and when they fight I make them hug before and after time out… This seems like a better solution!

    Comment by kevin on July 19, 2011
  13. My mom used to make us sit next to each other, but hand-holding takes it to a whole new level!

    Comment by prettylittlereckless on July 19, 2011
  14. Hand holding and baseboard cleaning with Lysol wipes are my two most used punishments.

    Because really? Taking away stuff punishes me more than them.

    Comment by Issa on July 19, 2011
  15. I love this and will surely try it…though I may have to duct tape their hands together to get it to work…

    Comment by Kathy on July 19, 2011
  16. Ha! I thought I was the only parent to ‘punish’ my children in this manner. Mine are all grown up now and they all love each other very much. I guess I did something right! ;o)

    Comment by Mahalia on July 19, 2011
  17. My parents used to make me and my brothers kiss each other if we disrespected one another. I find myself saying the same thing to my niece and nephew and daughter since they are all around the same age. It works and the fights turn into giggle fits. But this… this is something I will for sure use on them.
    Love it!!!

    Comment by Susan on July 19, 2011
  18. Thanks for sharing this. I followed your tweet. I’ll give it a try. murphysrun.wordpress.com 🙂

    Comment by Dan on July 19, 2011
  19. this is hysterical! I have a 4 yr old boy and an 8 month old girl— who seem to adore each other right now…but I always wonder when that magical bubble will burst…I LOVE THIS IDEA…good one mama..good one!

    Comment by World By Smith on July 19, 2011
  20. You are, no doubt, the funniest mom I’ve ever met. I love you even more for this. Hysterical!

    Comment by Camels & Chocolate on July 20, 2011
  21. OMG I just tried this earlier today and doggonit, I think it worked! Me and the boys (7 and 5) were heading off to see Cars 2 and before they were even in the car they were fighting. I gave them a choice of holding hands (gently!) until we got to the theater, or having me turn around to come home. And it worked!!! Only downside was that I had to listen to my 7yr old complain about how he couldn’t wait to hit the bathroom so he could wash his hands seeing as he ‘didn’t know where his little bro’s hand had been’. LOL
    Ali, you are a genius!! Thanks. 🙂

    Comment by CarrieLou on July 20, 2011
  22. My mom totally did this to us as kids. But when we were being particularly bad, we also had to say 5 nice things about the other person before we could stop holding hands. and “I like your shirt” didn’t count. I now do this with the kids I nanny for- they HATE it!

    Comment by cassandra on July 21, 2011
  23. Hmmmm…. we do the “say three nice things about your brother” thing, but we haven’t tried THIS one yet— thanks for the idea!! I also say, “Hmmmm…sounds like you two have extra energy today— time for extra chores!!” That one works, too. 🙂

    Comment by Magoop on July 21, 2011
  24. My mom would make my sister and I stand at the end of the driveway and hug until (x) number of cars drove by. We’re kind of in the country so it could take a while. The fear of one of our friends from school driving by and seeing us hugging at the end of the driveway kept us in line!

    Comment by Rachel on August 15, 2011
  25. That is amazing.
    I am 100% going to try that!

    Comment by ali on August 15, 2011
  26. LOL omygosh I love that!!!

    Comment by Dana on November 7, 2012
  27. *Genius*

    Comment by 411ontariokids.com on February 9, 2012
  28. A friend of mine does this with her son and daughter, except she specifically makes them stand facing each other holding both sets of hands while looking at each other. They really hate this punishment! I love it!

    Comment by Kelly on June 6, 2012
  29. […] while, sure, the hand-holding punishment works well on many an occasion, I am just so over […]

    Pingback by » Beyond the Hand-Holding Punishment Cheaper Than Therapy on July 2, 2012
  30. My dad used to make us sit on the couch and put our arms around each other for a certain amount of time. I have a picture of me and my sister sitting with our arms around each other and each of us with only one sock on our feet (that’s what we were fighting over), believe me…it works! When you are mad at someone thats the last thing you want to do. Me and my sister really didn’t fight all that much growing up.

    Comment by Kim on October 26, 2012
  31. Interesting idea… although I worry that the children will start associating sibling affection with punishment.

    Comment by Sarah on October 29, 2012
  32. I did this recently (prior to seeing this) & they hate it enough just enough to make it work. The few times I’ve enforced it have been in the car. Thanks for the reminder. It’s been awhile since they held hands. 😉

    Comment by Dana on November 7, 2012
  33. My mom did this to my brother and I as kids…Something to consider is that the angrier sibling may squeeze the other’s hand with the intention of hurting. I did it to my brother and he did it to me. So just be aware…no one wants broken fingers lol

    Comment by Hilary on November 11, 2012
  34. Punishments are lazy parenting. There are so many more effective options available, that don’t degrade or humiliate.

    Comment by Heather on November 21, 2012
  35. Yup. That’s me. Super lazy.
    It’s awesome that you came over to my site to judge me when you don’t even know me.

    It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure. And I wasn’t telling YOU that YOU had to do this. I was telling you what works for me. And it works like a charm in our household. And no one is degraded or humiliated.

    Comment by alimartell on November 22, 2012
  36. I apologize. My comment was harsh, and didn’t even offer any alternatives. This kind of parenting makes me furious, and it was very immature of me to post while I was still mad. Please at least consider this: If you were your children, would you feel humiliated? If you were in a disagreement with a co-worker, and your boss forced you to hold hands you’d feel quite degraded. Just because children can’t fight back effectively doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to be treated with empathy and respect.

    Children are the only members of society that it is ok to talk down to, steal their property, and in some countries even physically hit just to ensure adults are less inconvenienced.

    I’m not sure I understand why you wouldn’t want your children to be allowed to express their disagreement with the color of the sky, or anything else. Are they supposed to keep all their opinions to themselves? This sets a very dangerous precedent. Obedient children can grow up to tolerate, and even participate in, some pretty horrible acts.

    There are some amazing resources available for parenting methods that respect the child’s needs, while still setting firm boundaries like no hitting, respect for others and their property, etc. ahaparenting.com is great, and Alfie Kohn’s book Unconditional Parenting is amazing.

    Just because it “works” by temporarily stopping the behavior doesn’t make it a good idea. I realize you aren’t advocating everyone do this, but by posting this as a success story you’re promoting the idea that it’s ok. It isn’t.

    Comment by Heather on November 23, 2012
  37. I have done this for years with my 3 boys. I also make them give each other a hug and kiss when done and say “I love you”. By the time the punishment is over they are laughing and playing. It much less stressful than telling them over and over to just be nice!


    Comment by Carolyn on December 7, 2012
  38. i just read this , i am sorry Heather i disagree with you. I don’t see in punshiment lazy parenting as you see it. i see taking reponsibility for what you do. kids have to learn that and this doesn’t contradicts expressing themsleves it just make them use a better way to express themselves than fighting and that is what the world need. holding hands, hugging and kissing. says “no matter what we disagree about ,we still family”. I like your method Ali very much and i repectabily disgree with you Heather. i will use your method to calm the kids and they are still allowed to talk about the matter again and resolove it. i think this promote a calmer person who use his/her brain not her harsh words or fest to prove something or get what he/she wants. this for me doesn’r crub anger but rather channel it in the right way.

    Comment by Dee on April 13, 2013
  39. […] stems from a post over here at Ali Martell’s Blog where Ali makes her kids hold hands as a punishment after they have been bickering. Brilliant! My […]

    Pingback by The Punishment That Didn’t Work (or at least didn’t work as planned) | Melizzard on April 24, 2013
  40. […] don’t get it right all that often, you guys, let me enjoy it when I do. It’s like the hand-holding punishment all over […]

    Pingback by Wins All Around | Cheaper Than Therapy on May 29, 2013
  41. […] page that I had never heard of before. That’s so awesome, I thought, they are sharing my hand-holding punishment post. This always makes me smile. After all, it’s one of my favorite […]

    Pingback by Grace and Class | Cheaper Than Therapy on June 11, 2013
  42. It could work with some, however I’ve seen it really hurt a child too. Picture the scenario: A young boy and an older girl. Young boy is allowed to torment, belittle and plain old irritate older girl. Finally, she snaps and says something unkind to little brother. Dad, in his infinite wisdom, ONLY intervenes when little brother’s feelings are hurt. He makes them hold hands. Little brother thinks it’s funny because it’s further angering older sister… pic then gets posted on facebook, further angering and belittling older sister. No repercussion for the young boy because he doesn’t have a facebook and has thoroughly enjoyed the “game” he and his father have played on big sister… continuing this cycle of anger and hurt.

    Comment by SMECKLE on November 3, 2014

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