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« Answering a few questions. | Main | Sunday afternoon. »


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Kudos to you for not losing your cool. It must have been tough for Cole to tell you the truth. I am rooting for him to get all of his books!


Let me start out by saying that I love your blog and all the pictures. I grew up in Medford so I feel like you are in my backyard with all the pics around Jville. I'm a teacher up in the Portland-metro area and I love that you have follow through with your son. If I could suggest something that might work better for your son (and help him earn his books back faster) I would ask his teacher(s) to give him a 'face' after each subject. The reasoning is because if he is only getting one face then there is a possibility that he has great mornings and horrible afternoons which woud result in a sad face, but where is the credit for the great morning? At my school we have a simple chart with about 8 squares each teacher is to take a box, make a face and initial. Then you could make a deal with him, where he has to get more smiles then sad, then move into get 5 smiles,6,7, and so on. This would also help you figure out which subjects he is acting out in. Eventually getting to the reason why he acts out. Possibly being attention getting from peers,adults, or maybe the teacher moves to quickly and he may be frusterated. Just and idea I couldn't not suggest.


You are such a great mom Karen! Being a parent is such a tough job. Way to go on teaching that you care about character more than personal comfort.

Poor Cole. It's a tough job being a little boy too! How proud you must have been for him to come and fess up.

Kathy (kathyb)

Karen you are just great! I have a 6...almost 7 year old ( as he keeps reminding me! ), and know just where you are coming from. My philosophy is the same, with the honesty senario. Its tough sometimes isn't it.


WOW! I know you can do it Cole!!!!:)


I'd ask more detailed questions from the teacher about when the behavior is happening.

After lunch? Maybe it's due to a long day and too much sugar in his lunch? I worked in the library at school -- after lunch, the kids would be bouncing off the walls!

Cabin/spring fever? (I live in Michigan and even my dog has cabin fever!) Has the weather been rainy? A few days of not being able to go out at recess and the kids were hyper...Any changes with friends at school? Anyone bullying?

Is he bored? Not being challenged?

We noticed that when the kids went through such a huge growth spurt (2nd grade) and then when they became social/noticed the opposite sex in 4th & 5th - that we had behavior problems too.

BTW: We have the same honesty policy. Praying that God will give you wisdom on how to handle it and work it out! You can do it Karen! And so can you Cole! :)


Hardest. Job. In. The. World.


I have the same issues with a 6 and 7 year old in the house. Parenting is a real wild ride, isn't it? :-)


NOT MY BUSINESS, but here is a thought (from the mom of a 17yo, a 5yo and a 2yo): Is there something that you can take besides books? Because his love of reading is really something that you are fortunate he has. Maybe another toy or privilege? TOTALLY UP TO YOU, OF COURSE - I would never think to encroach on another mom's decisions; only to offer food for thought. You seem like a great mom and so I hope you're open to my tossing that out there.

Bless your heart for helping him to work through this. (((HUGS))) Motherhood isn't for wimps.


I like Christina's idea.


Tough love is hard...but in the long run, it's the best thing for them in this world that we live in. Hard to remember at the time when you're facing it head on, though.


kuddos to you for following through...i think that IS SO BIG!
and also for "talking"...i believe that works wonders!!

keep up the good work!


You are such a great mom. My 12yo son's currency is video games. His school has a thing called STAR, and to make a complicated story less so, the kids who earn STAR 3 weeks in a row get a lunchtime trip to Burger King. The first 9 weeks he very proudly reported earning STAR every week and told me many details about the trips to BK with his friends. You know where this is going, don't you? When parent teacher conferences came around, we discovered that he hadn't earned STAR once. He still seems to not quite get that it wasn't the STAR list that got him in so much trouble but the lying about it. Honesty is IMHO possibly the hardest thing to teach. My daughter "gets it" and my son, not so much.

I think it speaks very well of Coley that he fessed up on his own.


the important thing to remember is that he came and told you. that he KNEW he could come and tell you. go back and re-read that line under "ouch". and then read it again. and then have a great weekend!


wow! you rocl, as always. I say that as a mom, and a teacher. The advice you got above from Christina is right on- find out a bit more about what he's doing at school. Make sure he isn't just pissing off a teacher who is tired this time of year, and taking it out on him. Conferences here in SoCal are next week, are they for you too? That being said- I can't tell you how much respect both the teacher and the mom in me have for you finding out what it takes to work with him (I am always looking for that in my two, but they are young, and they haven't really developed strong passions yet) and following through with it! If every parent did that, this would be such a different world right now! So many people have forgotten what the parenting job actually requires. AS ALWAYS- YOU TOTALLY ROCK! :)


Boys are tough. I have an eight year old son and it's just hard a lot of the time. They do things that you can't even imagine and for the wildest reasons. It's not always easy but they're definately worth it.

Alisa Logue

Hi Karen! Boy does this all sound familiar. I think we all deal with similar issues as moms... kids will be kids. There was an interesting article in this months Parents newsletter by Dr Alan Frierson (local pediatrician) about grounding a child. He gave some very good alternative diciplinary measures and some tips about positive reinforcement of good behavior. I pick mine up each month a Video World but I think you can even find them in Albertsons by the local newspaper. It gave me some perspective and might ease your mind too. : ) -Alisa

tara pollard pakosta

that stinks!
is there something that is bothering him?
i just wonder if there isn't something that
is bothering him because if he was good at school
before why is he being bad now? is there a child
that is teasing him or something?! just a thought!

i feel so bad for him and for yoU!
that just is so hard as a parent!
but good for you for following through!!!


oh yes... been there! Alex (my son) had the same thing, only in our case he goes on the traffic light at school. I prefer your system more. Anyway, he was off the traffic light for weeks (oh I was so proud)... till one day he admitted that he had lied all those days. He had been on the light every single time... lol. ouch!

Well that was a few years ago and we are still dealing with these issues. I really liked how you handled it. Hang in there!


Just remember Jim F. and Foster....these "little" lessons are the ones they need to learn now...and you are doing all the right things! Little steps for a long way........make the journey smooth. Hang in there!


Gosh, Karen, you are such a great mom. I try not to give advice where it isn't asked for, but something about this didn't sit well with me. What is going on at school? Maybe you, Cole and his teacher need to sit down and discuss. Sounds to me like he is bored out of his mind at school. My daughter had a vision issue that caused problems once we got that taken care of it has been semi-smooth sailing for the last 5 years. Good Luck and let us know how this turns out.

Jen M.

Ouch -- this sounds SO familiar. I have an 8 year old boy who is going through exactly the same thing, and I have to admit it encourages me to read the comments about other people in the same boat. Sometimes it helps to know that you are not alone. I have the same policy about honesty, and we have a Pokemon/Star Wars economy in our house. Right now I have a closet full of said items that he has lost, but he earned two of them back this morning, which is encouraging. I think earning something back is healthy, and teaches our kids the value of good behaviour as well as the cost for bad.

I've been a high school teacher for 10 years too, as well as being a mom, and I really agree with Christine's suggestion. It would be a great way to break down the problem and get a better handle on it. He wouldn't have to do it forever, of course, but a few days should give you a really good idea of what's going on. I can also tell you, having seen 10 years worth of kids graduate and move on to the next stage of their lives, that the biggest predictor of a child's success is their parents' involvement. That doesn't mean the kid has to listen every time, or that the parent wins parent of the year or anything. They just have to be there, be hands on, be consistent, and know that they likely won't see a reward for their own consistency for years to come. The way he handles his choices absolutely does not mean that you are not doing your job. I know that makes it a real struggle in the day-to-day (believe me, I know!) but you are a great mom, I admire the way you handle the struggles of being a parent, and you have wonderful kids too. Hang in there -- you'll get through this.


good to know that someone else is going through it too, although i wish you were not. it's hard. i too take parenting personally but we can't. hey at least they have mom's who care and follow through. maybe that is why GOD gave us the "spirited ones".


Hi Karen,

I also have a little 7 year old boy who gets daily logs home, as his behavior can be an issue in school, but it has been getting better as he gets older. As a matter of fact I went to his school last week, as I needed to drop something off at the office and I said hello to the secretary who just happens to know me by name due to our many visits to speak to the teacher *LOL* Then the secretary looks at me and proceeds to tell me that she misses Daniel, as he was on "the frequent flyer plan" last year, but this year he hasn't been sent to the office once! The school secretary truely has been Daniel's saving grace, as she just loves my son. I guess what I am trying to say is hang in there, as it really does get better as they get older. However, it is really good that you are handling the situation now. I do have to say a I agree with Christina, as my son is also on a behavior sheet, but his teacher has a little sheet with a 12 square grid. Daniel earns stars and X's through out the day for his behavior. If he is having a hard time his teacher gives him reminders. If he has earned more stars than Xs we call it a good day, if he earns the same amount of stars as Xs we call it a so-so day, and if he earns more Xs than stars we call it a not great day. Daniel earns special privledges for good days, but doesn't earn privledges for so-so or not so great days. It seems to work, as if he has a bad morning he can always turn it around and make it better.


if all of my students' parents were as involved as you, my classroom would be picture perfect.
the simple fact that recognize something is off, and that you are working with him to acknowledge and solve that problem speaks volumes for you!
thank you for being a fabulous role model for your children!


I just wanted to encourage you, becaues you are a fabulous momma! You are doing a fabulous job with your kiddos.

=) Nona


hey Karen, I just love reading your blog and I'm not sure if I've ever commented before, but I just wanted to say thank you for sharing pieces of your life. I must tell you reading this post was like reading a piece of our own life from a few weeks ago in regards to our own punkgirl, who happens to be 7 also. i'll be thinking about you and Coley


dang its gotta be hard to discipline someone that cute....parenting sucks really really does *sigh* totally rock though and you know i think that about you already :)


First off, I love reading your blog. The tenderness and sensitivity you bring, is appreciated. I am a middle school teacher of 32 years,(starting a week long break...big sigh)have 2 grown sons, and 2 grandchildren (both boys age 1 and 2) How wonderful to see how you are handling this...straightforward and business-like. I see parents who either scream at their kids or feel their children can do no wrong. I hope you have a chance to go to school with Coley and discuss with him and the teacher what is happening. I have had parents come to the school and spend the day with the child (yep...middle school) Their son did not believe the parent would really do it. Be consistent and follow through on whatever the consequences are. Continue to communicate with the teacher. I assume they have email. I never mind a parent asking me how things are going or following up on a conference. At times, the parent has emailed every day for a week and then followed up at home. You wouldn't believe how the times have changed. I used to ask students if I needed to call it is if I need to email home :) You do an awesome job with your family. Each age has its challenges.


Oh, how I feel your pain!! I just got out of a conference with my daughter's 4th grade teacher. We are trying to trust her to do her homework when assigned and turn it in on time, one thing she isn't doing!!! So needless to say we had and hour meeting after school to figure out how to handle this situation. I suggest meeting with his teacher to figure out a method that is right for everyone. Good Luck!

I am an elementary school principal. I just have to say, I would never have him lose reading time. Please go with something else, like video games, parties, etc.

Love your blog!!! Read it all the time.


Hoping Coley gets it together soon... it's so hard being a kid... and even harder being the parent, isn't it?!??


If it were me, I would take those particular books away. You said he is an avid reader so he will find something else to read although he likely won't enjoy it much--which is the whole point.

Terri Paulson-Sasaki

You are a great mom, it is not a reflection on you. They just have bad days. I teach first grade and it is hard when a child that had no problems, is all of a sudden having difficulty. I agree about talking to the teacher and finding out if it is a particular time of the day. Also, more grids sounds great. In my class, usually when I give them a warning (yellow) they settle back down. But if they feel that they just lost something, they might feel like oh what the heck. Like eating a piece of chocolate when you are on a diet, oh now I might as well eat the whole bag, hee hee. I have 4 boys, one of them had severe ADHD and was very complusive (not saying that this is your son), he needed to have the rewards more often (usually lots of mommy time and praise) just for making it 30 min. He didn't feel like such a failure this way. I love the fact that your son owned up to the lie, now that is character. You are doing a great job, hang in there. Parenting is not for cowards.

Carolyn Hall

This is a tough one. You just have to do the hardest thing ever and that's to be consistent. Also never threaten anything your not prepared to back up. This is a tough one for me sometimes. So psyched to hear you are going to come back to my neck of the woods, CT. I will look forward to it.


OM. Parenting is so, so difficult. You always seem to handle everything so well.

Wendy WendtVanGuilder

WOW!! I"m thinking it's a 'teacher of boys' thing and not our kids or us as parents!!! Our Kindergarten teacher is 56 years old and we have come to the conclusion doesn't like boys! Please don't do what we did at first and just take the word of the teacher! Please please please talk to Cole about his day. I agree w/Christina also that the teacher needs to give specifics. We stopped the smile/sad face sheets and we use email to communicate. That way Charlie (our 6 yr old) isn't so driven by getting a sad face. Our teacher had 10 boys in her class and SIX of them meet w/the school counselor together for some kind of calming/learning/feelings/getting along w/others lesson twice a week. I talked to our pediatrician..several visits actually!! He said Charlie is a boy! After 4 months of emails now we see her point on some days but she's looking for Charlie to be "even keel" as she puts it EVERYDAY!! Give me a break! I'm not even keel every day! Everyone has a bad have ups and downs just like adults. BEing a kid isn't easy. If there are learning problems that is different. IF there's a discipline issue..that can be dealt with.

I agree w/a couple others too when they say they don't really agree w/taking away the reading. I understand that it's a powerful tool. But boys are not great readers to begin with. There must be something else you can take away...the Wii maybe ? Just a thought!

Good luck...and please keep open communication w/Cole!!
This teacher will be gone in less than 3 months but Cole will still need to learn and will still need a love of reading!


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