Discipline in the Schools

I recently spoke with a parent about her child.  The child had been suspended (in-school) for not walking away from a fight on the playground.  The thought struck me…”Do we (parents) actually teach our children how to walk away from a fight with another child?”.  I don’t believe we do.  I know I didn’t teach my daughters to walk away from a fight when they were in grade school.

Consider further…think back…Could you have walked away from a fight on the playground?  I don’t think I could have.  I didn’t get into a lot of fights as a kid but of the few that I was involved in…I clearly remember how excited I was at the time and don’t believe I could have walked away.

Another thought…I was listening to the radio this morning and I heard a fireman explain how important it was for the family to practice a fire drill in the home.  You know, the one where you have an agreed upon place the family will meet if there is a fire, for example, at night.  Then, you practice coming to the place as if there were a fire.  We teach our children that but not how to walk away from a fight on the playground.  I don’t know but I bet the odds of a child confronting a situation where they could walk away from a fight are A LOT higher than the odds of them having to evacuate their home at night due to a fire.

So…what is my point?  Practice with your child, walking away from a fight on the playground.  This is a critical point if you consider the recent changes  in the QPS school system’s policy on fighting/violence in school.  Zero Tolerance!  It is also a critical issue if you have a son.  News Flash: Boys are more prone to fighting than girls, in general.

Ok…so some tips on how to do this:

1. Have you child identify one or two bullies they would be most like to be confronted by on the playground.  Further, have them describe the situation they (your child and the bully) may be in at the time you child must walk away.  Finally, have your child describe how the bully/bullies would act at the time of the fight…what would they say, do, etc.

2. Discuss with your child: when they should walk away, how they should walk away, where they could go, what they should do when they get there, what to do if the bully follows them, etc.  Ask your child this before you make suggestions.  I’d bet you’d be surprised how much they know about these areas…and if they don’t know about these areas, well, that is what you are there for. Also, identify particular moments or actions that would be an indicator to the child they definitely need to leave; i.e., if the bully threatens your child, if the bully pushes your child, etc.

3. Role-play.  You be the bully.  Your child is him/herself.  Role-play it and then stop and discuss what your child did well and not so well.  Ask your child how they felt he/she did in the role-play…did they feel good about how they handled the situation, did they feel out of control, what could they do differently next time.  Then…role-play it again.  Same thing, what did they do well, not so well, did they feel more in control of themselves in the situation, etc. Then…role play again.  Keep role-playing until your child feels they feel confident in what they are doing.

4. Take the role-playing to a playground…the playground of their school ideally…playing the games they would be playing at the time this would happen, in the area of the playground they play in.

5.  Consider involving some of your child’s friends in the role playing, if possible.  There are a lot of varieties if friends are involved.  The friends could be supportive bystanders; they could be the bully, they could be the bullied person, they could be a person that intervenes during the incident on behalf of your child, etc.

More later…