leigh33's picture

Am I Being Too Tough On My 1st Grader?

My son is six and in first grade.  He is a bright student, extremely social to a fault and like his father - likes to be the "funny man".   Having gone to an academic based preschool, he was extremely bored in Kindergarten and we worked with his teacher to insure he was challenged and learned to behave, without trying to break his spirit. 

Now in first grade,  the teacher has a disciplinary system where the child is warned once when breaking the rules by talking out, not listening, etc, and then after a warning looses 5 minutes from recess and does not get a good behavior stamp in their take home agenda.  If they continue the behaviior after loosing 5 minutes, it goes to 10, etc for each additional infraction.   We discussed the rules with our son after 1st grade orientation, however he came home from school the 2nd day and had lost five minutes. We expressed our disappointment and explained that this was his only "free pass" since he was still learning the rules.

However he came home the next week and lost 5 minutes for shouting out in class.  We took away soccer for the week as a punishment and that seemed to work until today, when he came home again loosing 5 minutes for talking during class and not listening to the teacher when she repeatedly asked him to stop.  These types of infractions make me extremely aggitated b/c I believe after a warning he should be listening and respecting the teacher. 

 I make a huge deal when he comes home with a good behavior stamp and if he gets one for each day of the week, the whole family gets to do something special of his choice - a special dinner out, miniature golf, a trip to the ice cream shop, etc.   If he does not get a stamp, he goes to his room and stays there all evening, only to come out for dinner and also looses his good behavior reward for the week.  I have tried taking things away and that did not seem to have an impact on him.

Other boys in his class that also live in our neighborhood loose 10-15 minutes every day. Some have even gotten full page letters home from the teacher about their behaviors.  I have spoken with their moms and they believe that the teacher is too strict in handing out the punishments and if they were to discipline their kids they would be punished every day, so they have decided to not hold any weight to the teacher's policies.  I do not agree with this philisophy and want to support the teacher and effect my son's behavior positively.   I want him to understand that there are consequences to breaking the rules. There are other boys in the class who have never lost 5 minutes or not received a good behavior stamp. So I question why my son cannot comply with the rules, when obviously the rules are not so unjust because there are children who are able to adhere to them consistently.

Reading other posts, particularly about boys this age, I know it is very difficult for boys this age to be in school for a full day.  I am not afraid to be the "mean" mom or the disciplinarian, because I know in the long run my son will thank me for holding him responsible for his actions.  I am just wondering if I am being too hard on him.  He has lost 5 minutes 4 times since school started in mid August.  I am not expecting him to be perfect, but I think that a warning to stop a behavior should be enough and there should not be a time he looses 5 minutes.  Am I being unrealistic?

tamz's picture

Wow! In my opinion your system is a bit extreme.

His punishment for "shouting out" is five minutes off his recess, but your chid gets double punishment. He has to stay in his room ALL NIGHT? To me, that's extreme! And what is the nature of him shouting out? Was he blurting out an answer? Losing five minutes for this seems to match the infraction, but all night in his room? If he is just excited about knowing an answer, it's not so bad.

I also feel that making a huge deal of behaving the way he is supposed to in the first place is extreme. He gets to go for ice cream or miniture golf. I think you should keep the big rewards for big accomplishments. When he does something above and beyond what is expected of him then he should get recognition and reward.

I hope I'm not too critical, but you did ask our opinion. I think you should give him a break.

Jellybeanlover's picture

I agree this is a bit extreme, and you make too much over it. Also to much over the good. Why punish him twice for a little thing. Sure you want a well behaved child, we all do. What's going to happen when he's really done something wrong, i.e. gotten into a fight at school, or worse. How do you plan to punish this then? He's old a small child and the teacher has displined him already. You can express how it saddened you...like says "oh I see here you lost some time at recess, what happened?" don't punish again. Learn to pick and choose the battles and punishments carefully or later it will be worse

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

I'd be more concerned w/ your son's self-esteem. You don't want him to feel like he can't do anything right. He's gonna become a nervous wreck worrying about always wanting to please you. Then if he messes up, he's going to be afraid he disappointed you. You want him to be able to come to you and communicate his feelings too, don't you? You don't want to make him fearful of you. You also don't want your son to rebel either. He's only in first grade. Cut him some slack. Save the punishments for bigger behavior issues.

ptrouts's picture

To the Mom who wonders if she is being too tough on her son. I think teachers these days expect our young children to sit for hours and hours with no movement. It is known that children need to move to learn. Your Son is trying to tell you and the teacher something. At this age it is very difficult for them to articulate how they are feeling and why he may be acting out. These young children are just learning how to adjust to being in school all day. I know my daughter has a very tough teacher who believes in the old school of no movement, kids must sit perfectly still make no noise and that is just not possible for a 6 year old! I think you need to give him lots of time to adjust to his new school year and find out more about what is going on in his classroom! How does she teach the children, is she being to harsh on them?

aneal0423's picture
You comment is a bit harsh. Maybe the discipline could be improved upon but It's great to give your kids positive reinforcement in this harsh world. That's never a bad thing. And Yes I am the mother of a first and second grader so I know exactly What I'm saying. Rephrase your words a little more kindly.
aneal0423's picture
Your comment was much more appropriate and spot on.
Pearl333's picture
I'm conflicted. I teach kinder and appreciate you helping the teacher. The moment a parent gets frustrated and stops disciplining their child at home the color system doesn't work anymore. Mom doesn't care I get a bad mark so I don't. This only makes things worse. Yes the teacher punishes the kid but the parent needs to reinforce their expectations at home for how you treat and respect the teacher. You are more so upset for not listening to the teacher; not calling out. If you don't the kid won't respect us. After all you are the heros. How you respond is how they view us. The punishment could be lessened though. Maybe a short timeout, a few minutes less computer/tv, or at the least a serious (not attention time) talk. I am sad to hear the comment about teachers these days bc I seldom whole teach and have the kids sit at all. The standards are extreme for kids these days forceing learning of hard skills that kids arnt ready for. It makes it hard on the teacher and kids.