* Setbacks

Well, just when you think your little Hercules is really making progress, he gets suspended from school for pushing his teacher and hitting a classmate. *sigh* And just the day before he came home with a great report - "Look Mama, no sad faces!" You see, Rio's teachers fill out a behavior chart for him every day, and he gets smiley faces for compliance and sad faces for noncompliance. Tuesday, no sad faces, hurray! Wednesday, I get a phone call from the principal informing me that Rio will not be welcome at school the next day.

My initial reaction was to be angry at the principal. Obviously Rio's actions were completely unacceptable and I can't argue with that. However, I'm not so sure that giving him a day off from school is really a negative consequence, which makes it seem more like I'm the one being punished. I also can't help but feel that she's only building her case against Rio until she finally has enough artillery to boot him out of this school. But, I also have to acknowledge my own resentment and defensiveness, and, let's face it, my personal dislike for this woman. And pointing fingers at her for her response to Rio's behavior does not change the fact that what Rio was did was very, very wrong and he needs to understand that.

Therefore, in the interest of the higher truth, it is my job to make sure that a day off for Rio is not a positive outcome, but a punishment. So here I am at home this morning while Rio is confined to his room, door shut. That's really about as bad as it can get for Rio, because he absolutely hates to be shut out from whatever is going on in the house. He was allowed out once, to sit at the table with me and write a letter of apology to his teacher. Otherwise, he can only come out for meals and to use the bathroom. This is important, because after lunch I will go to work and Anlon will take over for me. Now, Anlon is probably Rio's favorite person (except for his Papa), and we don't want him to think that once she gets here it will be all fun and games. She and I discussed today's arrangement so we're all on the same page. And to give Rio an incentive to comply, I told him that if he abides by his punishment all day, he and I can ride bikes when I get home from work. I think that 9 hours of confinement is plenty for a 6 year old warrior god, and exercise is just the sort of reward he needs after being cooped up all day.

What we really want to avoid is a meltdown. And punishments are generally a sure way to induce a meltdown, so an incentive is key. Meanwhile, I'm off to work. And if Rio gets really mad, he has his drums to bang on. I don't think I mentioned that we got Rio a kiddie drumset for his birthday. It was supercheap, and hence already damaged, but still functional. Before, when he got sent to his room he would respond by writing on his bedroom walls. Now, he can beat on his drums instead. I think that's a much better outlet for his frustration, to hell with the noise. It sure beats listening to him scream.

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