"There are no argumentative children; only adults who argue with children."

Avoid Making Mountains out of Molehills

Question

Our 12-year-old daughter is raising concerns (both ours and at least one of her teachers') with violence in her writing. Last fall she asked me to read over a fictional short story she had written for class. I found its video-game-style violence disturbing and emailed her teacher about it. (Neither our daughter nor her twin brother has ever been allowed to play video games at home--we don't own any kind of player--and they get only limited screen time of any kind, maybe 3 hours a week.) That teacher wasn't concerned; he said she'd been working on it with two boys in the class who ARE video game players and he suspected the influence came from them. I felt reassured. But then this week we received an email from a different teacher saying that our daughter's writing was disturbing her, that she'd used some class grammar exercises this week to write sentences that described hurting, maiming, even murdering another girl in her class, a girl who is supposedly her friend. Our daughter told the teacher it was a joke. But we don't find it at all funny and neither did the teacher. What do we do about this? Earlier this week she also received a detention for playing catch with the socks they use as erasers in her math classroom. This is a kid who has never had any major disciplinary problems in the past and whose grades are good. We are very worried. We are asking to meet with the teacher, but would love to hear your advice as well. Thank you in advance!

Answer

Hello, and thank you for your question. You have a perfect opportunity in this situation to nip her rebelliousness in the bud! You say that she's pretty much been a great student and an obedient child, so you know she's capable of being that again. Her detention should be enough of a consequence for playing sock catch, but you can't ignore the disturbing sentences she wrote.

I'm guessing that you've already spoken with her about her writing. I would ask her teacher to make her redo the grammar exercises appropriately, and to reiterate that her writing must be without those sorts of sentences in order to receive credit. I caution you against assigning too much meaning or credence to her blip on the radar, as you will elevate the situation into something huge and horrible. My experience is that "good kids" will often use their free will to test the waters of rebellion, and that swift, decisive and appropriate action from their parents will often quash that desire going forward.

Make this her problem to own and solve, and ask her teachers to support your efforts. Please write again if you need further guidance.

Warmly,
Wendy Faucett
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
wendyfaucett@gmail.com

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