He messed up… and I was proud.

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My children’s school relies on a green-yellow-red system of discipline. They have calendars and, each day, must color in a square with the color they’ve earned for the day.

 

  • Green indicates that the child’s behavior was great– there is no need for improvement.
  • Yellow means that the child slipped in one area– it’s a reminder to pause and reconsider his or her actions.
  • Red is given out when the child has either displayed multiple behavioral problems or has repeated the same unwanted behavior even after repeated warnings.

 

It’s a simple system, really, and one that seems to work well for young grade schoolers.

 

My son, my A., is in second grade. He has been in a classroom that relies on this method since the beginning of first grade. Every single day, his behavior is evaluated and he knows what “color” he has earned.

 

Last week– for the first time ever– he had to pull a yellow card.

 

Honestly, it kind of shocked me to see that yellow square on his calendar page. The thing is… yellows are actually fairly common. After all, they serve as a reminder after a single offense (at least in theory.) I’ve seen them before on C’s calendar, not often, but they’ve been there.

 

I had just never seen one on A’s.

 

I actually half-smiled as I asked, “Hey, buddy, what happened here?”

 

And tears filled his blue eyes. He hung his head. His voice came out in a whisper, “I was talking.”

 

“Ah,” I responded, “you were talking when you shouldn’t have been?” (I still wasn’t particularly concerned about the whole thing– goodness knows I got in trouble for talking during class back in the day!)

 

His breathing got choppy as he nodded. I assured him it was okay and I was confident he had learned from it and would get a green the next day. And then I moved on… because, honestly, I didn’t really want him to be that upset about it.

 

I happened to have a meeting with his teacher (totally unrelated to this whole event) later that week. I mentioned how embarrassed and sad he had been about his “yellow day.” She sighed a little and told me what had happened:

 

“They had all just been so noisy. I was trying to help a student and they were all talking so much. Finally, I just said to the class, ‘I feel like you all are just so noisy and I’ve given you so many warnings– I’m going to have to ask the next person I hear talking to pull a yellow card.’ No sooner had I turned around, and I heard a voice again. I looked back at the students and asked, ‘Now, who was that?’ and A. looked right at me and quietly said, ‘It was me.’ He pulled his yellow card without argument. Later, he told me, ‘I just always want to be honest with you.’”

 

My son.

 

It’s the first time he’s ever had to be disciplined in such a manner.

 

And you know what?

 

I couldn’t be more proud of him.

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