Thursday, November 13, 2008

One step ahead...

Lately, I've had the feeling that Erik is one step ahead of me all the time...

This week we've had his teacher complain about his behaviour at school, which she put down to him having a new brother and us not paying as much attention to him - an assumption that actually peeved me quite a bit, especially because, if anything, I'm spending more time just chatting with Erik because I spend so much of my time sitting on the couch feeding Ari, instead of with my nose in my laptop...

Anyway, we talked to him about it, and told him he needed to be more considerate of the needs of his teacher and the other children in his class to be able to get on with their work without him being a distraction to everyone...

We did point out to him that if he didn't want to pay attention at school, then he could always homeschool, but that the other kids at school were there to learn, not just to socialise.

Anyway, so then yesterday morning his teacher talked to Dave again about Erik's behaviour. She's at her wits end and says if his behaviour continues to deteriorate in class then she'll be forced to give him and internal suspension (he won't be allowed to participate in the "fun" classes, sport, art, and performing arts)...

Apparently, he'd used the C word in class (no, not a word we EVER use at home). Now, a few days ago he'd come to me and told me another child at school had told him "can't" is a rude word. I explained to him then that it wasn't, but that the boy was playing on the similarity between that word and the C-word (which I did tell him what was, and then explained to him how extremely offensive it is to people, including me and that I never wanted to hear him say it, ever)...

Well, the teacher had told him that word was definitely not ok to say, and he then proceeded to use it again...

So, I talked to him about this last night. My plan was to tell him that he would not be going to school today - to show that I'm serious about what kind of behaviour we expect from him at school, and if he can't behave considerating he couldn't go to school - and that meant he also couldn't go on the swimming playdate with his friend in the afternoon. Admittedly, I thought just telling him this might scare him into compliance... Yeah, can you see the lesson coming my way, yet?

Ok, so I execute my brilliant plan, and what do you know... His response to my question about why he was upping the anty at school was... Wait for it... "My teacher keeps *threatening me!" I said that she wouldn't need to threaten him with internal suspension if he wasn't using obscene language in school. He kept repeating, "Yeah, but she was *threatening* me..."

Eventually, dense little me, asked him why that had anything to do with him behaving worse and worse at school, and then he explained that he KNEW she wasn't going to follow through...

Well, I'm ot a brilliant parent, so at this point I totally blew my cool... I said, "Well, don't think for a second that *I* am merely idly threatening you. *I* am deadly serious about pulling you out of school, mate!"

Then I cooled a bit, and said, "Listen, not following through on her threats is NOT a sign of weak in your teacher. In fact, it's a sign of how much she wants you to "get it right"! She is giving you opportunity after opportunity to do the right thing because she DOESN'T want you to miss out on the stuff you like to do, and she doesn't want you to get into trouble. You are, in turn, taking advantage of her kindness. This is why good teachers leave schools, they try to be understanding and give kids a chance to learn, but the kids just abuse that kindness until the teachers give up, and then that leaves you with teachers who won't give you a second chance..."

He sat there silently, so I continued...

"If you WANT a teacher who is going to follow through on their threats, then you're definitely going about it the right way. When they move you next year, to the grade three, they'll look at how you've behaved this year, and they'll decide you need a hard nosed teacher who doesn't give second chances..."

So, we talked a bit about how we shape how other people treat us.

He did go to school this morning, and will be going to the playdate, but he's been told this is not a sign that we won't follow through on our "threats", but rather a sign that we want him to have the opportunity to learn how to behave in a socially considerate manner.

Anyway, but hey, how about the 9 year old having figured out that consequences aren't always conseqences, but sometimes just tools for authority figures to control behaviour. I could go all, yeah, what's the point of threatening consequences, but honestly, I think fair warning of what might happen if the child doesn't take the opportunity to learn a new way of interacting is not a bad thing... That said, I might have a word to his teacher about how giving him endless "second chance"s is kind of undermining his respect for her... Maybe if she is going to set a consequence, but wants to give him a second chance, she needs to explain to him in advance that she wants him to succeed, but at some point she is going to have to follow through on her "threat"...

1 comment:

cramstankin said...

wow, clever munchkin you have there sif! i think you explained things just perfectly, seeing as you have a real 'deep thinker' there! i think it's great how you explain things to your kids :D

Teenagers and the failing parent...