We all know what happens when you give a mouse a cookie....
But what happens when you give a student a break? cut him some slack?
A lot of people here would say that the students in Oman have little to no sense of accountability, and that even if you are strict with them they still don't respect you. This is sometimes true. I agree even that this is perhaps more true here in Oman than in other parts of the world. However, I also think that the opposite is true. The students here are (in my opinion) more sensitive to small acts of kindness as well. They notice when you take the time to remember them and respect them. They notice when you give them a second chance. When you let them leave class early if they really are sick.
Just as some might say that this culture breeds irresponsibility in its young people, I would add that it also is a society in which making a mistake can be the end of your standing and respect within a group. Consequences can be severe for crossing any line that has been set.
In my experience my students have become more cooperative and more responsive when I have given them a break.
A girl today in one of my classes looked really sick and tired and was holding her head. She was clearly trying to stick it out out of fear of being marked absent. I said to her, "look, honey, just go back and rest. It's ok." She did leave and then came back an hour later (it is a 3 hour class), saying her headache was better and she wanted to come back.
I was impressed.
I think that's a human truth though. Trust someone, show them respect and kindness and they will almost always set up.