Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Recently, I recieved a phone call from a neighborhood mother that two unnamed Fitzlings were teasing a younger boy in the neighborhood. When I asked the two culprits, they both confessed quickly to the crime. They were asked to go immediately to their room to each write two notes of apology, one to the little boy, and one to his mother. They did so without questioning. After they were written and inspected, they rode their bikes down to deliver them. The mother called immediately afterwards, surprised, and thankful that I had handled the situation so quickly, and asked about the use of apology notes.
Apology notes are standard here in Fitzville. They have been written for everything to disrespectfulness to a soccer coach at practice, to forgetting a major assignment for a teacher, to breaking the toy of a sibling. A personal favorite note of mine is saved... stashed away in a folder somewhere. This particular child was left in the care of a grandmother while Fitz and I were away. When we returned, said child was up in their room, and Grandma told us she was writing a note, and would be down soon. When the note was handed over it read "Dere Gramma, I sawwy I thwoed da Kat." It was hard to keep a stern face in that instant, and remind the child that tossing the new kitten in the air was not a good idea. But despite the age and lack of spelling skills... the note was written, the point was made. All of our kids have had to write notes over the years (some more than others) The length and content of the note depend on the age of the child. As they have gotten older, they know that it is not a simple "I'm sorry". They need to reflect on why they are sorry... and how they can make it better.
This has worked well for us in so many ways. It is an immediate consequence, it makes them really think about why what they did was wrong, and helps them understand exactly how their behavior affects other people. And as an added bonus, it boosts writing skills! So many times I question my parenting tactics, especially when dealing with the multiple personalities in this house. (The kids... not mine!) But this idea has worked with each and every one of them. The ones old enough to really reflect on it, have even understood that it makes them feel better after writing the note. Works for me.
(Note:the above photo was only used as an embellishment. It in no way implies that the subject in the photo has done anything wrong. In fact this, child never does anything wrong at all. She is a princess. Ask her.)