If you received that dreaded call from your child's school notifying you that he has to stay after school and serve a detention, you're probably wondering what you can do to keep him from getting another one in the future. Don't let the detention itself be the only consequence for his poor behavior at school. Make him accept your punishment, too, so he's less likely to get another detention. Come up with a punishment that means something to your child and it'll increase the chances that it works.
Enforce natural consequences. These occur as a direct result of your child's behavior, and often teach powerful lessons that his behavior has an effect on what he is and isn't able to do later. For example, if detention occurs while your child's favorite television show is on, don't record it and let him watch it later. Instead, let him suffer the consequences of getting a detention by requiring him to miss the program.
Talk to your child. Set aside time after the detention to discuss what happened and get your child's side of the story. While hearing what she has to say won't change the punishment, it'll give you the chance to give her tips for coping next time so she doesn't end up with a detention. Listening to your child also sends the message that you care about her and that you want to help her behave more correctly in the future.
Take away items or privileges from your child. Let your child know upfront that if he gets a detention at school, he'll lose his television, video game or toy time. When the consequence for his poor behavior at school is losing free time at home, he's more likely to keep himself in check in the classroom so he can look forward to playing or pursuing his favorite hobbies when he gets home. HealthyChildren.org recommends passing down these consequences in a firm and respectful tone rather than yelling and screaming. In the end, this will have a bigger impact on future behavior than a more boisterous warning ever would.
Tips & Warnings
- If you're unhappy with the detention or don't think that your child deserved one, set up an appointment with the teacher. This way you can get both sides of the story so that you can understand why the teacher made the decision to punish her that she did. HealthyChildren.org also notes that this time gives you a chance to clue your child's teacher in to methods and strategies that improve her behavior at home so she can try them in the classroom, too.
- Resist the urge to take out your anger on your child's teacher or other school personnel. This usually doesn't accomplish your goals and certainly doesn't encourage the teacher to be on your side.
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