Someone once told me that the reason you have children is so that they can humiliate you from time to time. I thought, as a new parent, that this was the harshest thing I had heard but as my kids grew and made mistakes I understood. Completely.
Stopping the investigations is such a critical need in almost every school I have worked at, in and visited. As soon as the topic comes up there are eye rolls and teachers and leaders can immediately rattle off groups of kids who are constantly involved in one way or another. ‘There goes another lunchtime’ and ‘we talked to 35 kids to find out what happened’ and ‘the parents have been on the phone everyday’ not to mention ‘a little piece of my soul died today’, you all know it. You all deal with it, but let’s talk about the parents for a second.
The child at your school who is the magnet for drama is also the apple of someone’s eye and generally when there is a threat, perceived or real, that parent goes into absolute protection over drive. They call you, demand answers, demand punishment, demand everything. Just not for their child, for the other students involved. The thing is, in all drama we know that there is her/his side, the other side and the truth – somewhere in the middle, just not for the parents.
You know that what actually happened and what the student reported to parents has happened is usually quite different. Kids are smart. Parents, and I include myself in this group at times, not so much. Parents want to believe their children are doing everything right and kids most certainly want to assist their parents in this belief. It serves them. The story given to parents, and I will use myself here as the example, is usually blown out of proportion in such a way that you have no option but to express disbelief, ‘how could the school let this happen’ and ‘what on earth are they doing to fix it’ and of course ‘this is disgraceful, they should be ashamed’. I have actually been here myself for a few moments and the language used is about ‘they’ ‘the school’ not ‘me’ or ‘my child’.
Luckily for me, and I dare say my children, I know that things get blown out but not all parents do. Parents are likely feeling that their child, in the case where their child is the perpetrator, has been unfairly treated and in the case where their child is the victim want punishment. We need to help parents move forward in their understanding of how to deal with drama in a way that does not blow it out of proportion rather, it equips their child with the skills to manage their relationships.
What this means for us is conversation with parents. Conversation where the ‘incident’ is of less importance than the ability of their children to work through the relationship. Helping parents to understand that punishment encourages revenge thinking and further harm whereas working through encourages understanding and fewer incidents moving forward. The incidents I am referring here to are the low level, high frequency relationship issues, not knockdown fights…more on them another time.
There are so many positives to this approach – student-to-student relationships improve, low-level high frequency incidents decrease, and parents understand that these are moments of emotional growth for their child. Parents absolutely want the best for their kids, they just don’t always know how to get there so let’s help them.
Check out other articles Cassie has written here.