Humiliation in the classroom

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Q. My son (Talen) currently attends a Catholic school. He is in the Kindergarten. He has a very strong personality and wants his way ALL of the time in class and wants to do things in his own time. He gives his teacher a hard time and sometimes gets very angry (arms tightly crossed over his chest, red face, crying). This is the problem: About 3 weeks ago, 4 boys in his class were "acting up" (including my son), and they were all reprimanded in front of the entire class by their teacher. She told these boys that "since the girls are behaving so nicely today, I am going to go home and bring in wigs and skirts to dress (these 4 boys) up the next day in school so they can feel how it is to behave themselves nicely (like the girls). My son took immediate offense to her tactic and stood up in front of the entire class and crossed his arms tightly to his chest, face turned beet red, and pretended to shoot an arrow at her. She wrote me a note stating that my son needed psychological help and she referred to him as "a possible Columbine High student to come back and shoot her down." I am totally appalled with this teacher's tactics in her classroom, but do not want to pull my son from the class because I'm not sure if this would hurt him more, or to teach him to run away from problems. Many other parents have had problems with this teacher before. Since this incident in school happened his behavior has escalated to going down to the principals office 2x's in one week. I don't know what to do.

A. It breaks my heart to hear stories about children who have to suffer this kind of humiliation. I admire you son for refusing to accept it. It makes be so mad when children are blamed for their misbehavior, but teachers never take responsibility for their own. I understand your dilemma about not wanting to be over protective. In all of our Positive Discipline books, we strongly recommend again this. However, there is a time to know that it is not over protection, but advocacy. I would not allow my child to remain in a room with a teacher who treated children so disrespectfully. I would find a respectful teacher and then work with your son on learning how to be respectful. I would let him know that you want him to be in a respectful environment and that you then expect him to do his part. If you want to know what a respectful classroom would look like, read Positive Discipline in the Classroom.

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