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Discipline in the Cafeteria

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: I sometimes go to my children's school to have lunch with them. I have some concerns about the lunchroom supervision.

I find the way children are talked to and treated during their lunch seems as if it's a military command post. I hear kids being told to "shut up and sit down." I was told by another parent that my eight-year-old got in trouble for getting up to get a napkin to wipe ice cream off her hands. Who should I go to with this problem? Some of us have already spoken to the principal about this but nothing's been done.

A: Talk again to the principal. Children should be treated with respect, and telling them to "shut up and sit down" not only is disrespectful to them but also sets a poor example for the way we want them to talk to others. Cafeterias with no enforcement of rules can become so noisy and wild that no one can enjoy their lunch, but there needs to be a happy medium.

Talk with the school counselor. He may be able to work with the teachers and the lunchroom monitors to develop a more positive atmosphere there.

Many schools these days utilize a School Improvement Team system of government where decisions are made by a team of administrators, teachers, and parents. If this is in place at your school, ask that the cafeteria situation be discussed at the next team meeting. If you do not have a School Improvement Team, ask that the PTA board discuss the situation with the principal.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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