Kids and professional athletes have a lot in common: they have tons of energy, they can be extremely aggressive and they often cry like babies when things don’t go their way.  If you’ve ever given a child a “Time-Out”, then you’ve probably come to appreciate this useful parenting tool that has its roots in sports.  So why stop there?

Here are 10 “other” great sports terms you can use to discipline your kids, while bringing a little fun to the proceedings.

1. Yellow Card (Warning)


When you hit them with the yellow card, it’s the sports version of being on thin ice.  If you really want to take this one all the way, buy a slick yellow card and keep it in your wallet.  You don’t have to raise your voice, or even speak at all.  Just hold the card aloft and let the sports analogy do the talking for you.

2. Penalty Box

John Tavares in Penalty Box - slgckgc - REDUCED


A variation on the time-out, this is an actual place in the house you send the kid for a violation, such as making his kid sister cry.

3.  Two Minute Minor

Referee arm raised - Rick dikeman - Wikipedia

Rick Dikeman/Wikipedia

Use these for typical childhood infractions such as saying ‘shut up’ or worse; talking back to mommy or daddy; not doing what is asked; roughing or holding (not keeping hands to self).

4. Five Minute Major

Hockey fight - Art Brom - FLICKR - REDUCED


This is reserved for hitting, punching or any other physical altercation such as biting, head-butting and eye gouging.

5. Coincidental Penalties



Sometimes, you don’t know who started it. Use the double major and send them both to their rooms.

6. Ten Minute Penalty

10 minute penalty - Naparazzi - FLICKR - REDUCED


In rugby, you get 10 minutes in the ‘sin bin’ for grossly violent or dangerous behavior or for a repeated offense.   Use it when your kids aren’t listening to you, even after several warnings.

7. Ejection/Game Misconduct

Suspension - Dilip Vishwanat:Getty Images

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

That’s it. We’re out of here. Whatever had occurred is so serious that you’re calling the activity. Playdate over. Leaving the skating rink. Going home early. It has to be a pretty serious violation to get the ejection, but sometimes, the refs have to do what the refs have to do.

8. Fine

pennies-pixabay - REDUCED

You may not be able to hit him with a $25,000 fine for showboating in the end zone. But how about $.25 for failure to put his clothes in the laundry? From a quarter to a dollar, you can use fines for all types of family-league violations.

9. Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Richard_Sherman_(REDUCED) - Wikimedia Jeffrey Beall

Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia

This is for using slurs against a sibling, making obsecene gestures, or just being a general jackass (see pic).  Suggested punishment is the two-minute minor.

10.  Play Under Review

Wizards v/s Heat 03/30/11

Keith Allison/Wikimedia

Take a break in the action, sit the offending parties down and tell them their “play is under review”. Confer with your fellow referee (wife), and come up with the call.


Referee w:whistle - Harris Walker - Flicker

Harris Walker/FLICKR

Being the ref in your own home is a mantle that comes with a lot of responsibility. Since instant-replay is rarely available (unless you have a nanny cam), it’s up to you to make the right calls, dish out the proper penalties and see to it that play runs smoothly. You have a wide variety of options at your disposal, including the time-out, the minor penalty, the major penalty, fines and ejections. Have some fun when handing down your judgments. Not only will it help whip your kid into shape, they’ll get a little sports education to boot.

About The Author

Michael Berman

Husband and father of two who works as a professional writer, having sold screenplays to Sony, Disney, MGM and Showtime among others. Always on the look out for solid, useful information to share with other parents on

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