Trouble with a Smile


Throughout first grade, we learned that Mea loved making her friends laugh.

She didn’t hesitate to “make a bad choice” if she could get someone to giggle.

We learned that she also loved talking with her friends: at recess, at lunch, during class, in the middle of morning meeting – whenever.

She started to come home with “yellows” and “reds” in behavior for the day.

Thinking that we should respond to (mostly) “yellows” the way we would respond to the boys, we started to implement consequences for coming home “not” green and offer rewards for getting five days in a row on “green.”

She would do well then get a “yellow” for something that seemed to be under her control.

One day she shared that she was helping a friend get water at the water fountain when she should have been waiting in line, and she was put on “yellow.”

Yes, Mea is that kid who will always look for a reason to get out of line. This time, it seems like a good reason to her.

Another day, she came home on “yellow” because she was asking a friend in line if they could play together at lunch.

We knew that these were important rules she was breaking, but she seemed to be coming home having had a bad day a lot.

She seemed to be in trouble at home a lot too.

The thing that persuaded us to change our approach was one day when we got a note home with the results from the day.

It read, Mea was asked to move down to yellow today and she laughed at the teacher while she was doing it.

While this was something that we really should have been concerned about, rather, we realized that she was getting in too much trouble, which was having the opposite effect on her behavior.

She is a child with a strong spirit and we were not approaching her correctly to try to keep her quiet.

We sat down with her and said, what happens at school will be dealt with at school. We are not going to have consequences here at home anymore.

We reviewed when it was a good time to talk and get the sillies out and when to listen to the teacher.

While she still got in trouble from time to time, we had a more peaceful experience at home.

That made the rest of first grade go more smoothly for our family.


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