|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Unfair Punishment by Teacher

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My 12-year-old, a sixth grader, was "involved" in an incident at school that was very upsetting. He was standing ,trying to memorize lines from a play book ,when a classmate grabbed his kneecap. My son yelled and fell. It was a surprise and it hurt! The teacher pulled both students out and was giving them some kind of punishment when my son said, "I didn't do anything!" which got him additional punishment for "talking back". Is he supposed to shut up and take truly unfair punishment? This just doesn't seem right to me.

I realize they have a lot of kids to handle and it's hard to listen to everyone's story, but I think he was treated unfairly and I don't like the idea that "life is just unfair and he should just accept it". Should I get involved?

A: Although this incident sounds like it was handled with the all-too-typical punitive response to a child pleading his innocence, I would suggest you do not get involved. First, who is more upset by this, you or your son? If he is truly upset by this incident, he should be allowed to plead his case to a guidance counselor, principal, etc. I think the lesson learned here for your son is not that "life is just unfair and he should just accept it" but rather that this is a minor example of someone who did not want to take the time to listen to him. This is a life lesson that I'm sure he has picked up on by now if he is 12. I'm sure he has been in other situations where adults and/or kids made assumptions about something, assumptions which were wrong; this time these human errors ended up in his being wrongly "punished".

There are many more worthy "battles" than this one to expend your or your son's energy on; if this situation repeats itself, I think your son should have a plan in place, knowing whom to appeal to and how to appeal so he will have the best chance of being heard. Additionally, a 12-year-old boy risks far worse problems from peers if his "mommy fights his battles" than if he rolls with the punches.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

3 Fun Thanksgiving Games for Kids
Looking for some great Thanksgiving games to play with your kids? Print our free Pin the Feathers on the Turkey game, Pin the Hat on the Pilgrim game, and Thanksgiving Parade Bingo game for loads of laughs this Turkey Day!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Surprising Sources of Caffeine in Kids' Foods
Even low doses of caffeine can have an effect on your child's health. Since the FDA doesn't require caffeine content on food labels, learn about hidden sources of caffeine in kids' diets.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!