Saw this on the news today about a mother in Jacksonville who found a creative way to handle her son’s misbehavior. Her second grade son had gotten in trouble for being rude to his teacher. She decided to get his attention in a big way. She and her son stood on the sidewalk with a sign stating he had been rude to his teacher.
I am not condoning nor condemning the mother’s approach. There are many unanswered questions about the incident. What was the duration of the punishment? If it last for 15-20 that would be quite different than if the boy stood there for several hours. Was this a one time behavior or pattern of behavior that is getting progressively worse? The mother did say she had to do something to get his attention. Also, we do not know what the boy did in class or what types of consequences the mother had tried in the past.
As a former teacher, I respect that the mother is obviously involved in her child’s life and trying to teach him what is right. Too many times parents either ignore bad behavior or blame the teacher. This is mother wants to teach her son how to behave and to respect those in authority.
One of my readers felt that it was horrible, traumatic and abusive because the boy was crying. As a teacher, I have learned that one of the first responses some children have to any discipline is crying. Crying may be a sign of remorse, trauma or it may be a learned response to correction. Some children learn that crying gets them out of trouble. Yes, the boy was crying but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The boy obviously did something he should not have done.
Discipline is intended to a teach lesson and correct or reinforce behavior. Punishment is designed to control behavior. Discipline often includes some form of punishment. One question I have about the incident was what lesson did the boy learn? Hopefully, his mom took some time to explain the reason behind punishment and what behavior was expected from him in the future.
Some guidelines for discipline:
Is it age appropriate for the child? Time out may be appropriate a preschooler but not the best approach for a teenager.
It is a logical consequence of the behavior? For example if child writes on the wall having him/her clean off the wall is a logical consequence.
Is it designed to teach a lesson not merely inflict pain or get even with the child? Never hand out punishment when you are angry. It is ok to let the child know the matter will be dealt with at a later stated time.
What lesson is being taught? I left my bicycle in the drive-way one time. My dad “impounded” my bike & gave me a ticket. I lost the bike until I paid the fine with interest. Lesson learned was watch where you park your ride.