Let me explain. I truly believe there is value for kids when they are sent to the principal’s office at least once a year. The lessons they learn can be some of the most powerful lessons of the year – and in life!
Lesson One: Cause and Effect
Every year I remind my children. “There may be a moment, when…
- You oversleep, miss the bus and arrive without a note from a parent.
- You choose to ditch a class to help a friend in need.
- You are caught cheating on a test – not because you didn’t know the answer, but because you were curious as to what would happen if you were caught.
- You thought using fake money for the bake sale was an AWESOME idea and got BUSTED – what a surprise – ( it happened to a friend– he’s almost 40, he still talks about that lesson! He did not become a counterfeiter.)
- You and your normally rule abiding friends decided to yell in the lunchroom when the lunch monitors called for quiet.
- You found yourself defending a friend who has been bullied.
- You walk out of a class when the teacher starts to belittle a class mate.
- You made a mistake and either stole something, broke something or forgot something
…and you will be required to live with those choices.”
I am a big proponent of letting life teach our kids some of the toughest and most important lessons life has to offer. Learning that they are responsible for their choices and experiencing the consequences of those choices allows children a chance to develop critical thinking skills. It also teaches them to take responsibility for their choices and to live with the outcome of those choices. Those are skills that will continue to develop over time and will make it easier to make wiser, tougher choices later in life.
Lesson Two: Compassion
I know from talking to my own children, how upsetting it is for them to watch a classmate be sent out of the classroom and down to the principal’s office in disgrace. As a collective group, my 5 decided that making that walk of shame personally, would help them better understand how scary, embarrassing and humiliating the experience was, and help them show more empathy, compassion and understanding towards kids who struggled in school. As a result of mistakes, humiliation, encouragement, and inclusion.
Lesson Three: You’re Never Alone
I wanted my children to know that no matter what they did, no matter how much trouble they might be in, I would be with them. I would not save them. I would not make excuses for them. I would not take the blame. But I would always be there for them. And together, we would figure things out. I felt it was important, for me to SHOW my kids the truth of my words and it occurred to me when they were very young, that getting sent to the principal’s office could be a vehicle to prove to my kids that I would be there for them no matter what the offense.
My kids learned it was safe to call their parents. They learned that they would have to figure out a way to make things right. They learned they would have to serve the time (detention, community service, making apologies, and so on.) They learned that their mom and dad had no interest in rubbing their noses in their mistakes. They learned that they could survive the mistakes they made and life would go on.
So this year, consider using the Principal’s Office as a place of learning. Thinking outside the box often provides amazing opportunities for kids to develop skills that will help them grow into amazing human beings (not just to be remembered as a model student.)