The worst has happened: your child is in trouble at school. What now?
First, cool your jets
Before you rush to defend your child, take a beat.
I understand, as a parent, that you want the best for and from your child. It is inconceivable that your child has caused any trouble at school, especially THAT kind of trouble.
Just think for a second: why would the teacher lie about this?
Get the Facts
Call, or return the call from, the teacher. Ask (calmly) what happened and what the teacher might see to be the cause.
Ask for specifics: who, what, when, where, how and (hopefully) why.
Take notes, write down your questions, and then be ready to withhold your judgement. Then schedule a face-to-face meeting for the earliest possible time. Yes, even if it is that same day after school gets out. Yes, even if you have meetings at work scheduled. You want to get this handled ASAP.
Talk it Out
This is super important. Talk to your child. Do it calmly and without bias.
Say: I heard something happened at school, and it was serious. Please tell me about it right now.
You need to get your child’s side of the story. Ask her the same questions you just asked the teacher. Mentally compare the stories. Do they match? What is different? Do the differences matter?
In other words, does the teacher claim your child was the instigator and your kid claims complete innocence. Or is it something more benign: the exact location on the playground when things went down.
This matters in the big picture.
Actions Have Consequences
Part of growing up is learning to own your mistakes and behaviors. Even when the mistakes are hurtful and the repercussions are harsh.
At the meeting with the school, be sure to bring up any questions you might have about the incident. Were there a lot of inconsistencies with the two sides of the story that you heard? Is this kind of behavior SUPER out of character for your kiddo? Is there a history between the children involved?
Then be ready to support the school.
This means that your child, as hard as it might be, needs to take responsibility and deal with the fall out. Even if it means missing athletic competition. Even if it means loss of privileges. Yes.
Children who are allowed to skate now might grow up believing that there are NO consequences for their actions. It’s a hard lesson, but one best learned early.
Stay in contact with the school and teacher about this. Make sure that the behaviors are not repeated, and enforce this at home, too.
Create a plan with the teacher to try and fix future problems before they get out of hand.
Talk to your children frequently. Know their friends, discuss their worries, and find out about their concerns at school. If you don’t know, you can’t prevent!
At the end of the day, know that children make mistakes.
It is part of life and part of the maturation process. School is one of the best places to learn about actions and consequences. It is relatively safe, with relatively minor consequences that carry a big lesson.
Allow your children to learn these lessons now.