Punishment for Misbehaving at School

Updated on January 26, 2011
C.L. asks from Charlottesville, VA
13 answers

My 8 year old son came home from school today with a disciplinary note from his teacher saying he was being disrespectful toward her, he told another student to throw an egg in her face, and he laughed when she told him to take some "think time" (which is their time out). This is the first time he has ever come home with something like this and I was so upset. He is typically very respectful towards his teachers (although lately I have noticed he has really been pushing it at home!)
Anyway, my question is, how much more do I discipline him at home? I had him write an apology note to his teacher, and took away all priveleges (play dates, tv, video games, bikes). Is this an appropriate punishment? Too much? Too little? Respect needs to be a priority and I was so saddened to hear this!!

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answers from Dallas on

I think you are doing fine. Maybe put a little more fear in him like the next time he does it, you'll have him write a letter to the teacher and the whole class and ask the teacher if he can read it in front of the students.

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answers from Chicago on

Did you ask him why he did what he did....and then LISTEN to what he said? If you haven't used this tactic before, you will get a TON of 'I don't know" and shrugging shoulders. DON'T accept it. keep digging until you get an answer.

At 8 he is old enough to be accountable for his behavior. And that begins with him knowing WHY he chose to take a certain course.

He is also old enough to come up with alternatives to what he SHOULD have done, even if he WANTED to see the teacher get egg in her face (and let's face it - not the first time he will want to throw an egg at a teacher - or worse).

I didn't really ever double discipline, but I do agree with the note of apology. But there were times that just the 'talk' we had to have was worse than anything I could have taken away (plus that 'took away' time from video games, so indirectly she lost that privilege while we were talking and then while she was writing the note, so it was sort of an 'indirect' consequence).

Find out why he did what he did. Now is a good time to have conversations where HE does most of the talking. Ask him how it made him FEEL to know he had been disrespectful to his teacher and to have disappointed his parents by his choice in behavior. Also let him know that you love him and you know he is very smart and will make better choices next time.... and then ask him what he will do next time.

I think it might also be good to try and slide in the conversation that he would be responsible for instigating if the other boy HAD thrown an egg in the teachers face and that suggesting and riling up someone else to do something bad is JUST THE SAME as if he threw the egg. Not sure if he was thinking that he wouldn't be in trouble if the other boy did the actual action.

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answers from Spokane on

If this is so out of the norm for him, talk to him and find out why. He might have something really major going on and you may not have realized it. So taking away all privileges, especially before finding out exactly what happened and why he did it, was too much.

For us, school discipline usually stays at the school unless it's really major. Having him write an apology note was perfect but something you could have done also is have him do something nice for the teacher. Perhaps stay after school and help clean the classroom, or surprise her with a goody basket. That has him think about his behavior, how it hurt her and how he can help her. It really makes him think about it whereas taking the privileges away with just make him more angry, focus on HIM and not her, and that won't always get the message home; they just resent it and may act out even more. I know, this sounds weird but it's what the director of the my kids charter school recommends. Every time my kids misbehave at school, they write apology notes to all involved, they help that person in some way, and if it's really bad, then we'll also remove a privilege at home. We also talk to the offender about their behavior, why they may have done it, etc. For example, major disrespect and hitting loses privileges at home but cussing on the playground only earned a talk at home and writing a note since I thought they handled it well at school. It works the same for behavior at home. My children have learned not to torment their siblings. If they do, not only do they write the note, but they have to take on an extra chore as well. Only twice has my older son gone so far as to gain all of a siblings chores for one day and he was NOT happy. So, now, he stops and thinks. That's not easy for an 8 1/2 yo with ODD and the developmental level of age 6.

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answers from Sacramento on

My tactic has always been to let the school discipline for what happens at school. I don't give another punishment at home UNLESS it is a behavior that repeatedly happens.

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answers from Harrisburg on

Perfect punishment for an 8yr old to have him write an apology letter to his teacher or you could have him say a verbal apology in front of his class to her while you are there. The embarassment of that alone will make him do better next time without any real harm to him. As for taking away privileges, etc, that might be excessive for the "crime"

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answers from Modesto on

I think you did the right thing. Enforcing the school rules at home is the right thing to do. You are teaching him respect for authority.

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answers from Washington DC on

i think you're an exemplary mom. he was a butthead and it's important for him to know that it's not acceptable to be a butthead. and if this is the first time it happened, he's probably not ACTUALLY a butthead. he was just trying it on for size, and hopefully it's not worth it to try it again.
the apology note was perfect. i'm betting it went along with a conversation on whys and wherefores, which is a necessary ingredient in this. it's a conversation that should take place when you're not visibly upset, so he can feel safe in sharing what was going on in his head as he did this. once HE understands what motivated him it will be much easier for him to identify and avoid those triggers next time. if you really think he gets it, further punishment at home may not be necessary. the goal after all is to help him learn, not just react.
while 'double' punishment is necessarily called for in all situations, i don't think it's so awful in this case. i wouldn't keep all his privileges removed for long unless you feel he's still wavering on the edge of more misbehavior. he has taken steps to right his wrong actions, and he understands that there are consequences at home too. i don't think you overdid it, at least not much.
now if he repeats the transgression? that would be time to lower the boom.

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answers from Dallas on

What you're doing sounds perfect to me.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I think you did the right thing. If my kids get in trouble at school, there are additional consequences at home, always. It shows you and the school send the same message and values. My 6th grader just got docked 50% of her weekly class participation points in one class with a note that said "excessive talking in class" It was not the first time this tendency was noted, either. She is a good student and was naturally very upset to have her grade lowered by bad behavior. Still, we took away her Ipod Touch and any free time with friends for 3 days, and warned her that the consequences would be harsher if there is a next time.

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answers from Portland on

Brenna gives wise advice. Get to the bottom of WHY your son is disrespecting his teacher. The process will help him realize that you take this very seriously. And then get him to come up with alternatives to that behavior that would be positive or acceptable. Kids, when given the responsibility for it, can be terrific problem-solvers, and when they come up with their own solutions, they are more invested in making them work.

Get help with this approach with one of the best parenting books ever written: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Faber and Mazlish.


answers from Eugene on

You don't discipline him. He was disciplined at school This is so overboard and lots of parents do it.
No need he's just as upset that the note went home. Just talk to him about respect and how it works. You might have to educate yourself about respect as a quality in life. I read a book on Mussar the Jewish way of refining your character to learn more about qualities I needed to know more about. In my case order and detachment. The book is called Everyday Holiness.
So let your son know in a calm way at the time it occurs that you feel disrespected by something he is doing or his attitude or what he said.
Next year he will be nine and he will be much more respectful and helpful if you keep calming explaining to him what isn't and is respect. You also have to tell him when he's been respectful. Praise is important.



answers from Washington DC on

I'm not saying he shouldn't be punished at home and I'm not saying that respect is not important, but I would talk with him and ask him why he did that. He sounds angry about something since you are saying that he is typically a respectful kid.



answers from Cumberland on

Don't let him wear you down. What a wonderful mother he has-hurt by his actions-and pained to punish him. Try keeping him away from the child at school that he was buddying up to. Your son is 8 yrs old-now is the time to show him what is expected of a young man-if you don't do it now-it will be very difficult later-maybe impossible. You don't want to be faced with that.

Next question: Writing an Apology Letter to the Teacher for Bad Behavior.