Elementary-school students were summoned to my office for fighting, yelling at their teachers, writing cruel messages to each other and instructors, and peeing in a garbage can when I was their principal. 

Kids knew I was the last in line, and they showed up at my door terrified, so I didn’t have to scare them.

When things were going well or terribly, I learned how to help the children and their teachers feel better. In addition, because my girls went to the same school where I worked, I drew on that experience as well. 

The way schools handle discipline also became a source of frustration and concern for many of my fellow parents. So what I’d like parents and guardians to know is that I’ve spent the last five years on both sides of the principal’s desk.

You need to be aware of how your school operates.

Authoritative: clear and forceful, with only required rules and support for children’s feelings, is one of the most effective disciplinary tactics. According to research, both moderate and immediate consequences are the most effective for teaching youngsters as a reward for good behavior.

The sooner you understand your school’s discipline policies, the better off you’ll be. When a student breaks a rule, parents need to know that the school’s disciplinary procedure will be enforced, no matter who is responsible. 

Ask if you don’t hear anything about the school’s disciplinary policies, which are usually available online or on a back-to-school evening in the autumn. The following are the approaches most schools take in school discipline:

Discipline that is assertive using a “discipline ladder” of three to six negative consequences for transgressions, the instructor rewards students for good behavior with things like museum tickets or marbles so that they can build up their prizes over time.

There are established routines and expectations that teachers communicate to students in various sectors of the school (classrooms, bathrooms, the lunchroom, buses). This is a habit that children learn and the consistent punishments teachers administer for minor offenses.

When a school year starts, teachers help students work together to develop classroom rules in the adaptive school environment. Raising hands and holding doors are only two examples of anticipated actions that can be reinforced by modeling for children.

An appropriate punishment should be tailored to both the crime and your child’s age.

Be a part of the school’s team.

In order to help your child’s interaction with their instructors, you might explain that school rules must be respected, even if your own norms differ from those in the home. When parents question a teacher’s authority, young children are left feeling bewildered.

Changes at home should be reported to the school.

Staff can better comprehend your child’s actions if you do this. One kindergarten came in pushing, hitting, and swearing in the classroom. It was an eye-opening event. The teacher eventually summoned the boy’s parents. They were enraged—at their son, at the school, at the principal, and at life in general. 

But because of the teacher’s assurances, they were able to relax and tell her that their son was not just brilliant but also compassionate, which they described as a joy for their twin daughters and their ailing grandma, who had advanced breast cancer. After the encounter, I saw their lives, and they realized that I believed in their son. It achieved its goal.

The child was able to master new abilities. Still, it took several weeks of intervention and additional trips to the principal’s office. His teachers look up to him now, and he’s constantly there to support his peers. He’s a leader in the making.

As a school principal and a parent, I am delighted when I see an accomplishment based on mutual trust and serving the students.

Saying the Worst and the Best Thing

Instead of saying, “How could you allow this to happen?” to the teacher, say, “Let me know more about what happened, please.”

To the Head of School: Don’t say something like, “You’ve harmed my child unnecessarily.” Try this instead: “Let’s get together to discuss ways to avoid this in the future.”

To the Head of School (when your child has been wronged) As an alternative to: “How did you deal with the other child?” Try this: “Please describe how the school handles such cases.”

For the Benefit of Your Youngster, instead of: “Your teacher was wrong to blame you in that manner.” Have a go at: “Everyone has to help each other out. Trust me. I’m counting on you.”