What Are We Teaching Children About Consequences?

9:09 AM

 Sometimes I really sit back and wonder about the messages we are sending to children about their actions and the consequences that are delivered because of those negative actions, particularly when it comes to the public school system. An incident happened between my oldest and another child at school yesterday and when I sat back and looked at how everything worked out, it wasn't really sending the best message. Here is what went down.

My oldest takes medication for ADHD. He goes to the school nurse to get a dose at noon. Sometimes he is already a little antsy by the time he gets his noon dose. Yesterday he was feeling pretty hyper when going back to class, so he did something he shouldn't have. He walked in and started acting like a fool. Apparently, one of the kids in the class decided to act like a cop (literally) and tell him to stop acting out. My son got angry and called the boy a not so nice name. The boy then got up and was coming towards my son and they exchanged more words. The other boy kicked my son and then Joshua called him an even worse name.

Now, I want to mention that I am definitely not one of those moms who sees no fault in her own children. Joshua's actions were inexcusable and the names were horrid and things that are never said in this home. Josh is punished anytime he says any bad word here at home and I do not condone this behavior.

Joshua was sent to the office where he was given in school suspension and had to write an apology letter and read it in front of the class. However, the boy who kicked and physically hurt him was only made to write a "stop paragraph" or a set of school rules and did not receive a referral or in school suspension like Joshua.

While I have absolutely no problem with the consequences that Joshua received, I think it sends a bad message that you can kick someone and barely be punished at all. Essentially the message the school sent is that calling names is far far worse that physically harming someone.

So, maybe the next time Joshua gets mad, he will use his fists instead of his words. Not a message I want to be sending to my child. We have talked about this and he understands that neither action is acceptable and he has received additional consequences at home, but that doesn't erase the message the school is sending to the students there.

Has something like this happened at your school?


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6 comments

  1. I think the "punishment" depends on how many times the mistake was made in conjunction with the offense.

    I agree with you though, kicking isn't acceptable behavior at all.

    This whole scenerio is too bad. It could have turned out so differently if both children saw what their choices were at that time.
    http://www.cooperating4boys.com/2010/07/lessons-from-pacifist.html

    All the best,

    Jennifer

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  2. I agree Jennifer. The one point I tried to make clear to Joshua is the other choices he could have made. Ultimately, the whole situation could have been avoided if he has simply gone into the classroom and quietly resumed his work after going to the nurse. We are still working with him on how to battle the ADHD tendencies and work towards thinking before acting.

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  3. what a sucky situation. I will say this - it's so nice to hear that you're dealing with his behaviour and not skirting around it because of his diagnosis. Good on you mama! He'll be a good man because of you.

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  4. Oh yes! My son was bullied EVERY.single.day. starting in kindergarten until we moved when he was in 2nd grade at his former school. He got punished for defending himself, but the bullies NEVER had any consequences. In fact, I flat out told the school admin that if they didn't change their policies, they were breeding an environment for a school shooter. I knew my child wasn't the only one being bullied. Well, just a few months ago, a high school boy from that district left a note, left his house in the middle of the night, and stepped in front of a semi on a busy road committing suicide. The reason? He was tired of being bullied.

    Schools REALLY need better behavioral systems in place for all infractions. I know at home, if I can't determine who's at fault, both kids suffer the consequences - and I make it fit the crime.

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  5. I think since the other boy got physical that he should have been punished a little more too. The whole incident could have made an impression on the other kids, of why you don't hit, or call names, etc. I don't understand at all...

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  6. I think YOU'RE doing a great thing by disciplining him at home. the other child should have received SOMETHING for getting physical. It's just sending the wrong message imho.

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