Dear Annie, I just got a call from my son's math teacher. She says he's consistently goofing off in class and distracting other students. I've gotten similar calls from other teachers. How can I impress upon him that this isn't OK? – Embarrassed Mom
When it comes to teaching kids to be good people (our #1 parenting job), we repeat ourselves... a lot. That's due, in part, to the fact that young skulls are thick and young minds are often distracted. We continue harping on the rules because we want our kids to act responsibly, even when we're not around. That's why we're thrilled to hear a good report from our kids' teachers. At those times, all a proud mom or dad needs to do is smile graciously and reply, "That's so nice to hear." But what about the not-so-great reports? How do you talk to your child about those?
6 Tips for discussing out-of-line behavior so your child gets a clear message yet still feels loved and supported:
1. Get the facts. Before talking with your child, talk with the teacher, calmly and respectfully. Find out exactly what’s going on and how it has been handled so far. Find out if other students are involved. The more information you have for your upcoming discussion with your child, the better.
2. Talk with your co-parent. If there are two parents in your child’s life, teaching him or her to do the right thing should involve both of them. Getting both parents on the same page adds twice the reinforcement for the course correction your child needs. Being on different pages (or in different books!) sends mixed messages. Suppose one parent says, “Emma, when you’re in class your job is to be the good student I know you can be. That means showing your teacher and your classmates respect by paying attention.” And the other parent chuckles and says, “Fooling around in class? That’s my girl! I gave my teachers a hard time, too.” Obviously, no responsible parent would say that in front of a kid, but you get the idea why staying on message matters....