Sunday, May 29, 2011

Time Out!!

How to handle discipline?

We hadn't given it much thought. When Sawyer misbehaves, he is sent to his room for a seven-minute time-out. Sometimes, he spends that seven minutes cooling his jets in a chair. Either way, he isn't out of our site for very long.

So what happens when he misbehaves in school?

At the school my children attend, the elementary teachers have always placed the child in the hall, sometimes in a chair or at other times they sit on the floor outside the classroom door.



I get a call from the school nurse one day. She had gone to Sawyer's classroom for some reason and noticed Sawyer in the hall. 


He was being punished for some inappropriate behavior and I can understand the need for discipline in the classroom.

The nurse told me she noticed Sawyer seemed pale. She asked the teacher if she thought the same. The teacher told the nurse she was welcome to take Sawyer, which she did. She brought him down to her office and checked his blood glucose.

It was 50.

Perhaps some of Sawyer's misbehavior was due to his extreme low blood sugar. Who's to know for certain.  The fact is, another 20 mg lower and he could have had SERIOUS symptoms (confusion, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, sweating, shaking, violent outbursts) which untreated could have resulted in unconsciousness and seizures. 

...And he would have been alone. Nobody would have known that he was in danger.

Thank goodness the nurse happened by and noticed he didn't look quite himself.

Before that incident, I hadn't thought about how the teacher handled Sawyer's discipline. I was quite concerned that he had been left alone for any amount of time at all. 

Later that day I spoke with our wonderful diabetic nurse to report the incident of hypoglycemia in order to readjust Sawyer's treatment plan. I also shared concerns about the lack of supervision. She shared my concerns.  

I later called the school nurse and told her I wasn't comfortable with Sawyer being left alone for an extended period of time. (The class was watching a movie, and Sawyer was excluded from this event.) I explained that I wasn't against discipline, but the school would have to find another way to handle these situations with Sawyer. She agreed and since we decided Sawyer might come to enjoy going to the nurse's office and purposely misbehave to 'visit' her, the punishment needed to be a bit more severe. Since the principal's office was next to her's, we decided it would be better to have Sawyer go to the principal's office where the nurse would still be able to keep an eye on him.

When the teacher later called me to discuss Sawyer's behavior, I shared with her my concerns about the way Sawyer's situation was handled. She said she had also thought about this and agreed that Sawyer shouldn't be left alone again.

Everyone kept their heads and we worked it out as adults should. 

Although it freaked me out a little to think of what could have happened, I rejoiced that the worst hadn't happened. A very good lesson was learned at no cost to Sawyer, the school, or myself. I'm sure the school does not want the liability that would have accompanied a serious medical situation. They hadn't intended to put Sawyer into harms way and through this, we all got an education.

If your child is living with a chronic illness or disabling condition, it is very important to discuss disciplinary measures with your child's teacher, principal, and the school nurse. 

Of course, not everyone has a child who exhibits behavior that requires discipline, although what about other times when the child is alone? Perhaps a student is sent on an errand, is the last one in the gym locker room, or left behind on the playground. The absence of the student for an unreasonable amount of time should be taken seriously. Find out where they are, send someone to get them, or have someone stay behind for the child who is slower than others. 

It could save a life.

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