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February 24, 2021

How to choose the best punishment for your child’s B in math

A mom in Frisco, Texas recently took to social media asking for punishment suggestions for her second-grade daughter.

The little girl earned a B in math, and Mom “didn’t want to send the message that anything less than an A was acceptable.”


Apparently, punitive action needs to be taken against a 7-year-old little girl who is mastering only 80-90 percent of her math skills.

As Sargeant Hulka would have wisely said to this mom and the minions who offered punishment suggestions, “Lighten up, Francis.”

This child does not deserve punishment for “bad grades”; she deserves a great big hug and time at the playground.

Children's mental health is more important than their grades.

She only recently learned how to floss her own teeth, and hell-bent-on-perfection parents expect her to completely master math concepts that are normally introduced to fourth graders?  Yes, this child – just like every other Texas child – is doing advanced math.  In the name of “rigor”, our education officials decided to make our elementary-school children work two full grades ahead – even though scores of child development experts have panned the curriculum and expectations as developmentally inappropriate.

Most children in grades K-5 still use “concrete thinking”– they can use a little logic, but their thinking is limited to what they can observe. Today’s education movement focuses on “abstract thinking” – having children use complex reasoning and the ability to think about objects, principles and ideas that are not physically present. This kind of thinking generally develops after the age of 11, but it’s expected in this second grader’s math class. She’s not practicing addition and subtraction, she’s struggling to understand six different ways of multiplying double-digit numbers and trying to solve badly written, multi-step word problems that most parents can’t decipher.

Nonetheless, this little girl’s mom believes she should be punished because anything less than an A is absolutely unacceptable.

Instead of punishing the child, I propose we offer punishment suggestions for this mom and other parents who set their children up for a lifetime of destructive perfectionism and anxiety:

  • Let this little girl wear a tutu, cowboy boots and a Darth Vader cape to school simply because she wants to. Mom should wear a princess crown and karate ghee while in the carpool lane. Chances are the little girl will be happy her mom decided to be wonderfully silly and not care about what other people think.
  • Let this little girl write a story about dinosaurs, space aliens and fairies without anyone correcting spelling errors or pointing out plot holes. Mom should act out the story. Chances are the little girl will smile and laugh while she films Mom acting out the epic battle scene.
  • Let this little girl create a game that combines gymnastics, soccer and tennis rackets, and make Mom and Dad play against each other. Chances are she’ll cheer them on and won’t be screaming about their mistakes.
  • Let this little girl grade Mom on her parenting. Chances are she’ll give Mom high marks because she loves her unconditionally and knows she’s doing the best she can.


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