I am writing to you because I had a problem with a parent today and I really need some advice.
One of my students behaves like a bully, hits his classmates and threatens to hit them outside the classroom. He pushes them or he sometimes makes them stumble. Today he used vulgarity.
I decided to send a note to his parents, and asked the student to write the following:
"Dear Mom and Dad,
Today I told a classmate to 'Kiss my ass.'"
He once told me that his mother never punished him or paid any attention to him.
When his mother read the note, she became outraged and decided to come and talk to me. She was quite rude and almost insulted me but I remained calm all the same.
I just wanted to make him take responsibility and wondered what you would have done.
Smart for staying calm!
Remember that you are being paid to teach the child, not his parents. It is a sad fact of life today that too many parents are confrontational—rather than supportive.
If a similar situation occurs, ask the parent, "What do you suggest?" If the parent goes on a rampage, say, "I understand, but what do you suggest?"
Remember the person who asks the question controls the conversation.
With the student, say, "This behavior is unacceptable." Than say, "What do you suggest we do about it? Keep to asking, "What else?" "What else?" until a satisfactory solution is elicited.
Your task is particularly difficult because the youngster is manipulating his mother—and she does not even realize it.
Just let the student know that what he does outside of school is his business, but what he does in school is yours. Only levels C or D are acceptable, and if he does not behave at these levels he will own the consequence because he will choose it.
When the youngster misbehaves, he is the one to feel the stress—not you. And that goes for his mother, too!
Finally, review the chapter on "Classroom Meetings."
Put the problem on the table. His behavior is the class's problem, also. Let fellow students come up with some suggestions—with the bully present. Students hearing their peers is far more powerful than being told by an adult. This student needs some "emotional intelligence." His classmates can help him.
IMPULSE MANAGEMENT POSTERS and CARDS
Learning a procedure to respond appropriately to impulses is described on the Impulse Management link.