The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Double Jeopardy

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Double Jeopardy

Recently, I spoke with a man who punished his daughter for hacking into another child's Facebook page and writing an insulting status to get even for a similar incident on her own page.  The punishment: Taking away the computer for two weeks.  While that may appear on the surface to be a fair disciplinary measure, I don't agree for three reasons:
  1. His child was already punished at school because that's where the incident happened - in the school computer lab.  Apparently the children involved knew each others' passwords and were fooling around as only kids can do!  They had their school computer privileges suspended indefinitely. 
  2. The father was guilty of double jeopardy - punishing the same crime twice.  The child lost computer privileges at school and at home for the same misdemeanor. That's rather redundant, don't you think?
  3. Taking something away DOES NOT teach a child a lesson. 
Here's what I might have done in a similar circumstance...
Since the incident happened at school, I would let the school handle the discipline.  At home, we would discuss the reasons why what she did was wrong - it's unkind, illegal, and an example of cyberbullying.  We would also discuss the wisdom of using revenge to prove a point. Then, I would turn the negative event into something positive by asking her what she could do that would be kind to the person she had wronged. We might develop a list together of all the things she might do, and then narrow that list to something she could handle.  That list could range from baking a batch of cookies to a letter of apology ... or both!  Notice that I wouldn't tell my daughter what she should do, I would ask her to figure out what she could do.  That is SO much more effective because it puts the discipline ball back in her hands.  AND, it is so much more effective than shooting holes in your child's laptop!

So the next time your child gets in trouble at school, let the school handle the punishment.  Your job is to manage the feelings associated with that punishment to help your child learn from his or here mistake.

Happy parenting!

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