Ground this child or buy her ice-cream?

Posted on June 3, 2017

Last week, a friend sent me a link to a Twitter post by a father and author from the
UK by the name of Mason Cross. In his post, he shared his 11-year- old daughter’s
handwritten student feedback. This is what it said.



His post got a cumulative 164,786 retweets, and 532,526 likes on social media,
so his question on what his response to his daughter’s comment—“Not sure if I should
ground her or buy her an ice cream”—got me thinking. Here’s my take.

1. He could ground her if he believed what she said was wrong or disrespectful. But
considering that he is boasting about his smart daughter all over social media (one
of replies says, “She’s 11 going on 47”), that hardly suggests that grounding is in her future.

2. He should buy her an ice cream if she is generally timid and this response is out of
character and he feels she should be rewarded for speaking her mind. If she is
generally bold, however, then rewarding her would only boost her young ego and
encourage her to follow the example that her father is setting on social media: Hey, I
told off my teacher or put her in her place.

What is the mindful, conscious way of handling this?

Start with communication—an open discussion of the one thoughtful response in
her feedback. What is her definition of “collective punishment”? What are some
examples of this at school? How does she relate these incidents of “collective
punishment” to the 1949 Geneva Conventions on war crime? How does she feel
about this?

In the chaos of social media, we, as parents, cannot and should not lose an
opportunity to delve deeper into our children’s intellectual and emotional
understanding and to explore these kinds of responses. Is this child holding some
deep hurt, and was this sentence a way of expressing that? Or is she following her
father’s lead on social media? Let’s ask this young woman to share her views, so that
we can become aware of any changes our school systems need.

We all know that our current traditional school systems are just that —traditional.
Certainly we are ready for an update. As Sir Ken Robinson, one of the world’s
foremost thought leaders on our education system, says, “The fact is that given the
challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed—it needs to be

I couldn’t agree more. If we want to transform our educational system, we should
start by asking children like Ms. Cross what they feel needs to be changed.
One thing that stands out for me is the use of the should-be- outdated term
“punishment.” Isn’t that word used for criminals? How about replacing it with the
more mindful term “consequence”?

What are you thoughts on this? Would love to hear them!