As a parent, one of the hardest parts I have found to be about parenting is discipline.
Finding a consequence that leaves a lesson can be hard.
One thing seems to have a longer lasting effect with my kids?
Writing an apology letter.
Yep. A handwritten, one paragraph containing at least 5 complete sentences, addressed to the victim or person my child choose to disobey, apologizing for their behavior.
The idea actually came in 2nd grade with our oldest.
Our ideas for consequences was running thin, but we knew she enjoyed writing AND she needed to work on her handwriting skills so we decided to turn it all into one experience.
Buggy got a lot of experience (sadly enough) last year in 2nd grade with this consequence and this year, as a 1st grader, Buddy is getting his experience under the belt.
Our letters can be to the bus driver for not listening, the playground aide for making fun of them, a peer for being mean, the cafeteria aide for being too loud when asked to quiet down, a teacher for disrupting class (just a few that our letters have been addressed to the last year and a half).
Our letters must:
Start with “Dear [person]”. We try to find out the proper name for the person involved, but we have had to write a letter to “Dear Playground Aide” before because we didn’t know their name.
Contain at least 5 complete sentences. A paragraph is exactly that – 5 complete sentences.
Contain an apology for the offense. Just saying they are sorry is not enough. My children must apologize for what their behavior was.
“I am sorry for calling you ugly on the playground.”
“I am sorry for not sitting down while the bus was moving.”
They need to understand what behavior was unacceptable and understand that they are apologizing for that specific behavior(s).
Say what actions they will take so it doesn’t happen again. Or at least what they are going to do to try and prevent it from happening again.
“I will not call you names.”
“I will try to keep my bottom on the seat while the bus is moving.”
Our kids need to figure out how to correct the behavior so that they can learn how to change that behavior.
Give their letter in person. When possible, we try to make our kids give their letter to the person. In person. It holds them accountable.
Be done on the same day as the behavioral offense! I am sure as parents, you have heard this one before. You must deliver the consequences as close to the offense as possible.
For us, I get multiple daily reports from my kids after school.
My kids self report plus they have daily planners brought home that are marked if there was an issue.
I have also had the teacher email me and or the principal call me.
If I suspect something, or I have questions, a quick email to the teacher immediately after school usually gets answered fairly quickly so that my child can have an apology letter, in hand, the following morning.
These are our “musts”.
I personally make sure their spelling is correct. Their handwriting is legible and neat (if we are doing a punishment, we might as well be learning proper handwriting technique as well, shouldn’t we?)
Is there a consequence you have found that works extremely well for your children? What is it? Leave me a comment and let me know! I am always open to new suggestions!