Chickie's kindergarten class uses a color system for discipline.
GREEN: Well-behaved. (Everyone starts on green.)
ORANGE: Sit out from 10 minutes of a "special" (like P.E. or music.)
BLUE: Sit out from a special, and teacher calls parents.
WHITE: Referral to assistant principal.
When students misbehave to the point that they need to progress on the discipline scale, they have to move their own "clips" (clothespins) to the next spot on a color-coded bar in the classroom.
Chickie usually stays on green. When she does, she gets a reward--she can ride her scooter to school the next day (instead of walking.) About once a week, however, she gets in the car at the end of the day and says,
"Mommy, I had to move to yellow."
We talk about what happened. It's small stuff, such as playing at a time when she's supposed to be learning. She hasn't had to move beyond yellow, and so far, just the disappointment of moving her clip has been enough consequence for her. I don't give her more consequences at home. I'm thrilled that she's so open with me about school, even when she misbehaves.
And you know what? I'm kind of glad she's not on green every single day.
You see, I was a very compliant, very "good" kid. But I know what I had to go through internally to be that "good." I was a perfectionist. I feared failure. When I very, very occasionally misbehaved enough that my name was written on the board (the 1980s version of "moving to yellow"), I was so nervous the rest of the day--so worried I'd get a checkmark by my name and get a real consequence, like detention.
My good behavior was somewhat motivated by the desire to do the right thing, and that's great. But my good behavior was also motivated by fear. Doing something wrong made me feel so guilty and so anxious. I didn't want to go through that. I also feared doing something to displease the teacher.
Yes, I want my children to make good choices. But I also want them to be kids. I want them to make mistakes, and to learn from those mistakes, and then to go out and make a few more. When they learn to behave better, I want it to be because they've realized life really works better when you do the right thing--not because they're afraid of doing something wrong.
I'm glad Chickie's clip usually stays on green. And don't tell her this...but I'm also glad she occasionally has to move it to yellow--and that she still realizes how wonderful she is, at any color.