Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Happy Ending

We had to punish Emelia last week.

At the parent-teacher conference on Monday, Emelia's teacher told us that Emelia wasn't listening to any of the other adults in school, just the teacher.  And even then, it was a struggle.  So we talked to Emelia about it afterwards, while the family was driving me to work.  And I followed up with it on Tuesday, when I walked Emelia to school.

So we were rather surprised when later on Tuesday the teacher called Kathy, and said that Emelia was misbehaving and being disruptive.  And even more surprised when the teacher called Kathy a second time, because Emelia was still acting up.  Kathy spoke with Emelia on the second call.  It didn't matter -- Emelia remained awful for the rest of the day.

We threw the book at her, at least as much as we were willing to do given that she's five.  She wrote an apology (her words, our help with spelling) that she delivered the next day; and was placed on two weeks of no dessert and no video. 

Kathy was the one who set most of the punishment, but it didn't take long before she was contemplating making exceptions.  I wanted us to hold firm -- at the time Kathy handed down the sentence, she had told Emelia that she wouldn't have s'mores while we were camping, even though her friend (and everyone else) would.  I reasoned that if Kathy was going to make that a feature of the punishment, it wouldn't do any good to remove it.  Kathy ultimately agreed, so we didn't make exceptions.

During the first week of punishment, the teacher reported that Emelia was behaving well at school.  At home, Emelia also behaved well, and didn't complain about the punishment.  She even reminded Kathy that she was on punishment a couple of times when Kathy forgot.  During camping, she sat around while everyone else ate s'mores, and didn't complain at all.  

In short, she was great for the whole first week, including Tuesday, her first day back at school after the long weekend that included an overall lack of sleep.

Tuesday evening, we ended the punishment after one week, making clear that we ended it because of her good behavior and because she didn't complain.  The point had been made, and Emelia responded positively.  We didn't see what more a second week of punishment would accomplish.  

On Wednesday, with the punishment lifted, Emelia's teacher said Emelia was excellent during the day, and at home she was great too.  


Joany said...

Just curious about Emelia's reasons for misbehaving.

aaron said...

Good question Joany. Given that she's five, we can't say for sure, but we believe it's tied to (1) the removal of the previous teacher's aide "resetting" the classroom rules, and (2) the fact that she knows she's going to a different school next year (though the details of that change is for a future post).