By Debra Collins, Family therapist
My first-grader gets at least one warning a week from his teacher for talking in class and/or blurting out the answer. He is in the gifted and talented program. My child and two others in his regular class get accelerated work. Should I be concerned or is it typical for first-grade boys to get at least one warning a week on their behavior chart? I have asked the teacher for a conference. I've also started taking away privileges at home.
Many teachers use behavior charts for classroom management. These help a child learn what is expected of them and provide tools to practice self-control. Learning appropriate social skills and coping mechanisms are important factors in children's development. It is great that you have scheduled a conference with the teacher because it will inform you more about the nature of his behavior and if there is a pattern. For example, talking to his classmates because he is already finished with his work and doesn't know what to do with himself is different from acting out. Many children need help with waiting their turn so it is not unusual for children to get excited and blurt out an answer. Having a more thorough understanding of his behavior will help you know how to guide him at home and determine if taking away privileges is the most appropriate action.
Your son's teacher is using logical consequences with the behavior chart. He is not being punished; he is being taught that if he is not following the classroom rules the logical consequence is a warning. There are many different styles of behavior charts and incremental degrees of the consequences. You may want to use a similar system at home as part of your discipline regime. I do not know all the details about your son's misbehavior, but I don't think one warning a week is excessive; it is part of his learning process.
I applaud your prompt response to this situation. Early intervention and your willingness to learn about what your son needs will help keep him enthusiastic about learning. For more information on natural and logical consequences try Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D. This book is a classic for both parents and teachers.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
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