Posted by: Jamie Stamm | August 7, 2009

I want her to be upset

Is it wrong to want your child to be upset?

Because yesterday, when I went to initial Cera’s daily behavior chart, instead of the usual sticker, I found the words: “Moved to green. Disrupting peers during Writers’ Workshop.”

(For those of you like me who went to school in the ’80s, when teachers were quick to send you to the principal or swat you with a paddle bearing the words “The End,” students now receive various levels of warnings before they actually get in trouble. For example, in Cera’s class, each student starts the day with his or her fish “swimming in the ocean.” Above “the ocean” are green, yellow and red fishbowls. Students who misbehave are warned at least twice about their behavior before having to move their fish out of the ocean and into the green bowl. If their bad behavior continues, they move into the yellow bowl and then the red, with corresponding consequences for each.)

So, back to the chart. I can’t say I was shocked that Cera got in trouble for “disrupting” her peers. I mean, the girl’s a natural-born talker. In fact, I’m more surprised that she hasn’t been called out for being disruptive before.

What did shock me, however, was the way she reacted when I asked her about moving her fish.

“It’s no big deal,” she said. “Lots of people go to green.”

It’s no big deal? NO BIG DEAL?!?

I should note that I was the kind of kid who would have burst into tears if I found my fish in a fishbowl instead of the ocean. One of the worst memories of my elementary school years was being sent to the principal’s office after my best friend punched the new girl in our neighborhood in the face on the way home from school. I was devastated. Humiliated. Scared to death. And I was only in the office as a witness.

I guess I wanted – or maybe just expected – Cera to be somewhat upset that she’d had to move to green. Or to at least show a little remorse.

So, instead of commiserating with my daughter about the shame of being disciplined, I ended up talking to her about how misbehaving is a “big deal” and how her dad and I want to see a sticker on her behavior chart each day instead of a color and a note.

Hopefully, she’ll choose to remain a little fish in the big ocean.



  1. It seems that Cera has already started testing boundaries. You might want to check and see how many of her closer friends are doing the same thing. She may be misbehaving to fit in with them.
    When I was in first and second grade I would do things like that to fit in with my friends. It may be a good idea to have a talk with her teacher to see if her friends are showing the same behaviors and how often she is mimicking them.

  2. Callie always stayed on the highest color in Kindergarten and 1st Grade. She would be distraught if she ever had to move. I’m enjoying this now b/c something tells me Kendall won’t care and she will be the one to give me (and her fugure teachers)problems.

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