By Marnita Coleman
Special to AFRO

At the age of nine, my daughter had developed a habit of not hanging up her coat. She would come home, toss her coat on the back of a chair, across the couch, on her bed, or anywhere else except on a hanger in a closet.  

I told her time and time again to simply hang up her coat, but my words fell on deaf ears and she continued to ignore my instruction. This challenged me because it seemed like the practical thing to do, and I couldn’t understand why it was hard for her. 

1950: This AFRO archive shows three youngsters running together in the rain.

I thought about spanking her for her disobedience and to let her know that I meant business. But, I decided against the spanking because it wouldn’t solve the problem. I felt that there was another way of handling the matter. I also believe that punishment should fit the crime, and a spanking would only address the disobedience and not teach her the correct behavior of hanging up her coat.  

So, I prayed about it and this is the wisdom that came to me. I decided to make my daughter the official “coat check” of our home for one whole week. Her responsibility was to hang up everyone’s coat that entered the house. This was a teaching moment. My daughter would learn how and where to hang up a coat by practical experience. By the end of the week, she would have hung enough coats to develop the habit of properly managing her own coat.  

I proceeded with the plan. I spoke with her about it, and announced her assignment to the rest of the family. Initially, she thought it was funny, but, somewhere around mid-week, it became very real to her. She begged to be let off the hook, assuring me that she had learned her lesson, however, I stood my ground. After one week of hanging up a bunch of coats, my little girl was converted.

She said it was one of the longest weeks of her life. She also noted that we had more guests than usual that particular week, which was even tougher for her. Nevertheless, she got through that process and I never had to tell her to hang her coat up again. 

Marnita Coleman is an author and host of The Marnita Show, a parenting show heard daily across the globe.  For more parenting, log onto

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