My girls have misbehaved. Not a minor misdemeanor which might result in Cross Mummy for a couple of minutes but something that I felt required a proper punishment to ensure that they understood that their behavior was unacceptable and should not be repeated.

Rather than shout and scream, I did the whole disappointed thing which, if you can hold it together for long enough without going mad, is far more successful than bawling at them. And I kept bringing their malfeasance up. Just when they thought I had moved on, there I was with another reason why I was disappointed. Childish I know but effective.

But these little irritants aside, we had to decide what was an appropriate sanction for their actions. And that’s when it gets tricky. How do you punish an 11 and 12 year old in a way that is an appropriate deterrent but also doesn’t impact disproportionately on the rest of us. When they were little I never banned the television as a punishment. The time when they sat quietly in front of the Tweenies was far too precious to give away wantonly.

First I thought of taking pocket money but they get precious little as it is. It hardly seemed in proportion with the crime. If I really wanted to cause pain I could confiscate their mobiles. The girls are never seen without them and they chirrup and ring incessantly. It would be nice to ban them just to get a bit of peace. But of course the whole purpose of them having phones is so that I can get hold of them when they are on their travels thus allowing them a large degree of independence. To deprive them would make my life more complicated and let’s not forget who is supposed to be being punished here!

Grounding seemed the only option. But even this comes with qualification. Eldest daughter is rehearsing for a play. She cannot drop out of that at this stage. Then she turns 13 soon and the party is this weekend. We could have cancelled that but what would be a similarly serious deprivation for her sister? In the end I decided they would be grounded for anything that we weren’t already committed to, thus excluding all those horribly expensive after school activities that I have paid for, the play and the party. So that it is. They are both “grounded” for a month. No friends after school or at weekends. No parties. No money spent on them. In fact whatever they want to do or have me buy, I just say no. And so far they have accepted that – an indication that they know that they were in the wrong and need to make amends. Let’s just hope they have learned their lesson.