Punishment for 3Rd Grader.

Updated on October 24, 2012
K.U. asks from Fort Worth, TX
21 answers

My 3rd grader (he'll be 9 next month) had his 1st ever missed assignment. He was assigned a project a week ago- they had to read 3 chapters and make a postcard depicting what they read. Somehow, he never brought home the directions for the assignment so I never knew about it. Last night, he finally mentioned that he had a project due, but couldn't remember all the details. He didn't give me too much info and led me to believe it was assigned yesterday instead of a WEEK ago! His teacher called me today saying how surprised and disappointed she was since he is in the accelerated program and normally so particular about all assignments being perfect.

I know everyone makes mistakes, but I'm most frustrated that he had a whole week to do this AND wasn't 100% truthful with me about when it was assigned- so out of character for him! I'm going to talk with him today when he gets home, but since we've never dealt with this type of thing, I don't have any idea what sort of punishment/consequence he should have. What do you guys think? He's really upset about it already, but I feel he does need some sort of consequence. Thanks for your suggestions.

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the advice from an outside perspective! Just to be clear, the punishment is much more for the lying than the missed assignment- we don't expect him or his work to be perfect! His teacher said there is a small group of kids who didn't do this project and she has them missing recess until it's done, which I completely agree with. Hubby and I spoke to him about being honest so we can trust what he tells us and I know he's learned his lesson. He's going to write a short book report for my Hubby and me this week and I'm going to help him to reorganize his desk and set up a better homework area with bulletin boards and a calendar for him to post his assignments on for Hubby and I to see.

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answers from San Francisco on

The consequence will be a lower grade on the assignment, which is as it should be.
Talk to him about how disappointed you are, and how disappointed his teacher is as well.
Since he's upset about it already, it sounds like it was a lesson learned.
Don't make it an issue unless it becomes an ongoing habit or problem.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

It IS an issue that he wasn't truthful with you. I think that THIS is what he needs the consequence for. If he didn't care that he missed the assignment, that part would call for a consequence.

If I were you, I would tell him that he cannot go somewhere that has been previously planned, something he really wanted to do. It has to really mean something, Mom. He will be less likely to be untruthful to you if you do this.

Good luck,

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

Well his consequence is that he is going to get a reduced grade for that project, correct?

If you punish him further...... what is the objective?

If it were me...... as his parent I would focus on him talking and me listening to him. What happened? What does he think a reduced grade means? How important is that to him? If he retraces his steps of the past week..... what are the different choices he could have made to not be in this position.

I think it's more important that you and he spend time, effort and energy on him learning the behavior that will get him the desired result.... rather than anybody spending energy on punishment.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Ditto WindyCityMom.

I would add that tonight should be spent with him focusing solely on completing his project until it is done. No fun stuff until the reading/postcard is completed. The reduced grade (for being late) is the natural consequence, as is not getting to do anything else until the job is done. Once he has done the job, then everything else can go back to "normal".

Assuming he may have OTHER assignments to complete for homework, I would have him do the project FIRST, and today's daily homework only AFTER he completes the project. That re-emphasizes how his own choices caused him to be working late on homework instead of being done, without you saying a word.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think that knowing that you and the teacher are disappointed are all the natural consequences he needs. I would punish him no further. There is some pretty good research evidence that punishing for lying only induces more lying. So I would definitely not punish him for that - I would make sure he knew that you know he was not truthful.

ETA: Natural consequences are NOT having to do the assignment anyway, going to your room, losing privileges or being grounded. These are 'logical' (or illogical) consequences. Natural consequences are things that happen 'naturally' despite us. So the disappointment is a feeling that happens naturally, falling down due to gravity is a natural consequence. If you have to consider what a consequence should be - it is NOT a natural consequence.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I sent flowers because I agree with most of what has been said, however I do think there should be some consequence. Maybe it's because I teach high school, and I see too many students who try to turn assignments in late and see it being no big deal (then they're shocked because I don't take late work).

The other issue is that he wasn't truthful with Mom. That would be a big issue for me. I also have a third grader - and a ninth grader. Honesty is expected at all times. No punishment sends the wrong message.

I would expect him to complete the project on his own as much as possible. I would have been much more willing to help if he had let me know about the project when it was originally assigned. As for the punishment, I like the punishment to fit the crime. Forgetting this probably has to do with being disorganized, so I would possibly have him reorganize his room or binder, or would have him study/read instead of TV/electronics time this upcoming weekend. Of course we would talk about the cause of this mishap, and ways to prevent something like this occurring in the future, too.

Good luck. Parenting is tough.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The natural thing would be that he gets marked down for the assignment.

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answers from Columbia on

ETA: Of course he's going to get marked down for the assigment...but he still has to DO it. The "natural consequences" part here is not just that, but also recognizing that when we procrastinate so as not to miss the fun stuff, we STILL end up missing the fun stuff! :-)

OP: Use natural consequences. He should do the assignment and miss out on everything else until it's done. I would not help him or do anything for him. If he misses practice for a game or any other event, remind him that he wouldn't have if he'd done his assignment.

My oldest did this a couple of times. One night he put off an assigment he had for a week to the night before...which just happene to be the night of his basketball game. Guess who didn't play in the game.

Sometimes the best consequences are real life consequences. What would happen in real life if you as an adult put off an assignment or didn't do it? You'd be doing nothing else until it was done, even cancelling other things. Be sure to explain this to him. It helps kids to understand their mistakes in relation to the consequences.

Also, if he was doing something specific when he knew that he should have been working on the assignment, like playing a game or watching TV, losing that privelege for a week is also a good help. I'd do both consequences. I bet he won't forget again.

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answers from El Paso on

Make him do the project the right way, start to finish, and until he's done, no "fun" stuff. Don't have him turn it in, just have him do it and do it to your satisfaction.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Your son has already learned his lesson, I imagine. And you can encourage him to realize how important a lesson that is. He did let you down by not being 100% truthful. Of course, you forgive him, but you'd like not to see that happen again. What can *he* do from now on to make sure he doesn't mislay or forget the directions for assignments?

As far a consequence is concerned, he will receive the logical consequence, which is a lower grade on the project than he knows he could have had.

Most children need to learn by experience, at least once in a while. Maybe this is his turn.

I'm sorry to say I did this time and again in elementary school. My ever-patient mother bailed me out on many last-minute projects, not by doing them for me but by helping me gather material so that I could put them together the night before. I'm amazed that I lived to grow up. What I missed out on, as a major consequence, was learning how to tackle a project the right way - not because I neglected doing it *once*, but because I neglected it over and over.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think the bad grade on the assignment is enough, or being embarrassed to turn it in late. I don't think you need to add to it.

My daughter is 9 and in the 4th grade, and is having the same issues for the first time ever. She has alawys done so well in school, and this year she has just been forgetful. We're finding ways to help her remember, versus punsihing her.

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answers from Honolulu on

He is in 3rd grade, the assignment was given 1 week in advance.
He forgot or failed to plan ahead.
He didn't bring home the info for it or tell you about it.
I do not think, this was all premeditated.
Kids this age, are not rocket scientists about planning or organizing or thinking ahead. Teachers know that. Teachers typically will remind the kids and during the week, even work on it if they have time in class and/or giving them examples, of the project for the kids to get ideas.
ALSO, well at least at my kids' school, each child has a school "planner" book. In it, they write down the assignments daily. And when it is due. Even my son in 1st grade, has a planner.
Then, the child brings home their planner DAILY, and the parent HAS TO sign off on it. This is routine. And the Teachers tell the parent, what they need to do too, and look over their child's planner and SIGN it daily.
So, in this way, the parent.. ALSO knows, what assignments their child has and what is upcoming and any other memos that is brought home.

So, (and even my daughter's Teacher in 3rd grade said this), the kids, at this age and grade, are BEGINNING to be taught... about organization and planning, per their assignments. Because... in 4th Grade...these expectations are MORE.

Next: organization is not taught in school, nor are there any classes on it. But the kids are expected, to know it. They do not. And they get forgetful. And they do not necessarily think AHEAD 1 week. Or, they do not gauge... the actual time it will take to complete the project or assignment. Thus, they wait until the night before. They do not know how astutely, how long something will take to complete.
This is not an excuse... but what really is and happens. Even to the BEST of kids. Even to the most honest, of kids.
Personally, (and I talked to several Teachers about this), I teach my kids, about organization... per their assignments. I got my daughter (who is in 5th grade), a desk Calendar. The kind that offices use. Those big ones that cover the desktop. AND then I got her different colored highlighter pens. AND then, I TAUGHT HER... ways that she can then, on her desk calendar... WRITE or note down her UPCOMING assignments, in a way that will work for her. Then I review it and we talk about it. The thing is, in this way, she is practicing and getting more adept, at organizing and planning.... and with the hope that by next year when she is in 6th grade... her organizing skills and planning, will be more astute.
So, as her Mom, I actively teach my daughter about different ways that we "adults" manage our time/organize ourselves/plan ahead to things that are days or weeks in advance. I do not just "expect" her to AUTOMATICALLY KNOW how. And the Teachers, reinforce this as well.

Being in an accelerated program... does not mean that those kids are experts at planning ahead or organization. They are still developmentally their age, and organization is not a great skill yet. My daughter... is a great student and very mature and VERY skilled at doing exceptional work. But, she needs more knowledge about organization. Like most kids. Still.

I would talk to your son. His repercussion is that his assignment is late and that the Teacher called you and you are both disappointed in him. AND he is disappointed in himself, too.

But along with that... you need to realize that he needs more tips and help about organization and planning. Some successful adults can't even organize themselves. So even more so for a 3rd grader, they need help about it. It is like a rock collecting moss.

Per my daughter, who is very good academically... I, hand in hand with her... "teach" her at home, about different ways of organization and planning. I don't just expect her to automatically know how. Kids still fumble about things like this. And I show her my own desk... and how *I* organize myself and the MANY things I need to do daily, 1 week later, 2 weeks later, 1 month later etc. I don't just tell her "organize yourself better..." I SHOW her ideas about how. So that, in time she gets more astute about it.
But I don't punish her for it. Because, she does not... blow off her assignments on purpose. I KNOW her.
She did forget to do a project once. (I knew it was coming up because I read her planner daily and sign off on it like I am supposed to to). I let her go to school with it unfinished... and tell her Teacher what happened. She OWNED her mistake. That was her lesson. The Teacher had her stay in for lunch and finish it. The Teacher, did not morally demean my daughter or I. She knows my daughter is NOT a flaky student. But instead, she taught my daughter... about organization. Which is NOT taught, in schools. It is just expected. Parent AND Teacher... both need to reinforce and guide and teach, the kids these things. My daughter's Teacher, on her own time... will spend time with the kids to teach them other things, beyond classroom time. They want to "prep" the kids... for the next grade and ensure their success and awareness.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

His teacher should really be the one to manage school things. If he doesn't get in trouble at school for his activities but does at home he'll only resent you for the whole thing.

His teacher needs to be the authority figure in this case so she will have that role. He needs to do what she says for not turning this in.

It really sounds like he's a good kid who just forgot something. Wish my grand kids were this perfect...lol.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I suggest that this is not the time to punish him. It's a lesson to be learned and because he's upset about the situation that is enough. You want him to do his assignments on time. You want him to learn to discipline himself. He's already had a natural consequence for not following thru. He does not like the way he's feeling and will most likely do the assignment next time so that he doesn't feel this way again.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

think he already had his consequence with a teacher calling you and talking about her disappointment, I am sure he got a ear-full of that at school. If its out of character for him, I would be more concerned about WHY he didnt tell you, rather than just punishing him for it. Tell him you have lost a little confidence that he is mature enough for this, and that do you have to call his teacher for everything??? It might make him worried enough to not do it again. Since it is his first offense of the kind. I would let it go with little more than a good talking too. Next offense you need to get tougher.

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answers from San Francisco on

Oh my god, no, he doesn't need a consequence. It's his first missed assignment, he's in third grade, he's "really upset already." You hardly have a juvenile delinquent on your hands.

Lighten up and let your kid keep enjoying school.

And yeah, like Megan said, the natural consequence is he gets marked down. And from the sounds of your kid, he will care a lot about that.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Ditto ChristieLee - natural consequences. BUT if there is nothing he's going to miss, then I would ground him to his room for the entire day on Saturday and give him an assignment/project to do. Then he can learn that he would have only had to do ONE assignment if he'd done it or at least told you about it a week ago.

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answers from San Francisco on

With my 3rd grader, when she flaked out on an assignment recently (she didn't miss the deadline, but she really dragged her feet), I told her if she didn't get it done in time, she'd have to miss her sister's birthday party and stay home to finish the work. That really got her into gear, and the project was done in record time.

However, being that the due date has passed, I'd take away his extra, fun after-school activities for a few days so he has a chance to FOCUS on his schoolwork. Soccer? Video games? Playing with friends? Nope, sorry! You have to stay home and work on your schoolwork since you've been SO distracted lately! It should make enough of an impression that he is more careful going forward.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Welcome to raising boys, mom! What Dana said. Raising boys you have to be flexible and your brain quick to ask pointed questions. This absolutely won't be the last time it happens and that's ok. He's not a robot. By the end of his raising you will be either laughing or crazy so you choose!

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answers from Wichita Falls on

If he really did just forget, I would have him redo the assignment (even if he won't get a grade for it) and possibly plus extras (post card plus an oral report to me over what he read).
If he just didn't want to do it, or intentionally 'forgot' about the assignment, I would have him redo the assignment plus a letter of apology to the teacher for not turning in the assignment on time.



answers from Seattle on

I'm having a similar issue with my 3rd grade daughter. What I have decided to do is have her read a chapter book with me and then she will need to present me with a project about the entire book. In our case she needs to pay attention to specific details as that is the area she is missing things on in school. In our case she has two days to complete this project. If it is not completed then further disciplinary action for not following the rules will be implemented.

I would say have your son do another project that is similar to the one he had to do in class and have it due by x day. Truthfully I don't believe my child ever sees the natural consequences in school for her actions because her grades are never marked down, not sure if in your son's case it works the same. For instance, even when she doesn't get 100 on a test or assignment due to her grades being far beyond those of her peers she doesn't ever realize she got a less than grade.

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