What if your child's school called and reported that your son or daughter had been in a fight? What do you, as a parent, need to do in order to handle this scenario appropriately?
- Talk to the School: When a parent has a child who was part of an altercation at school, it is important for the parent to go to the school and find out the entire story. To start with, find out the school's side of the story. Get all the information from the principal or counselor as to what they believe happened. Don't automatically jump to blame someone other than your child; it very well could have been your child as the instigator.
- Listen to Your Child: Once you have spoken to a school administrator or the adult in charge of the incident, then it is time to listen to your child. Parents should let their child talk, tell his or her side of the story and explain exactly what they think happened. This is not the time to interrupt your child or place blame; it is just your time to listen. Do not contradict your child with any information you may have heard from the school staff. Just let your child do all of the talking.
- Discuss: After your child has spoken his or her piece, the best thing to do is to have the school support staff present and speak to your child about any contradictions you may have heard from his story compared to the school's story. This is the time to be blunt, telling your child what you think and how you feel. Be honest. It is important for a child to know that you, as the parent, are disappointed in the fight. It doesn't matter whose fault the fight was, the issue is that there was a fight at all. Your child should also know, that even though you are disappointed that he had a fight, you love him no matter what.
- Consequence at School: Most often at school, regardless of who is to blame, there are consequences for both parties involved in a fight. Parents need to be supportive of the consequences and explain that what the school determines for that consequence is a fair one and that the student will follow whatever consequence is given.
- Consequence at Home: After you and your child leave the school grounds, it is often a good idea to give your child a consequence at home, especially for something serious. This shows your child that his behaviors at school will not go unnoticed and he will have consequences at home for breaking rules at school. It should be up to the parent to determine just how light or tough the consequences are. Many times, consequences created by a parent at home are even more effective those given by the school.
- Discuss Again: Once the entire issue has cooled down a bit, it is important for parents to talk to their children about fighting. Parents and children need to discuss alternative ways that the situation could have been handled, what else the child should have done instead of fighting. Parents may want to role-play several different school situations with their child, all showing alternative ways to handle the issue without resorting to fighting. It is also important for a parent to be firm in letting his or her child know what will happen if the child fights again.
Parenting is hard work and school issues make it even tougher. Handling fights can be difficult, if a parent knows the best route to take when dealing with a school fight, it can make the job a bit less difficult.