Common Sense Discipline

I hit this topic often around here; but I find that it is a huge topic that always needs to be on the forefront of everyone’s mind.  So, we are having this discussion again.

I am also figuring that, even though I do hit this topic often, I present it in several different ways and hope that one of those ways will reach you if another approach didn’t work.

A few weeks ago, I told you the story of David and time outs.  The question then goes into, “WHAT are we supposed to do then?”

I’m not going to give you the answer.  Why?  Because discipline is different for every single child because every single child is different and unique.

However, I will let you in on the secrets to be successful. 

First of all, you know from past posts that the word discipline ultimately means to teach.  This must be on your mind at all times; what is this child going to learn from this experience of disciplining?

Next, you need to understand WHY children “misbehave”.  Everything can be summed up by 5 categories:

1.  Attention:  Children want attention and they will seek it out however they see fit.  If you aren’t giving them attention, they will find a way to get your attention.

2.  Boredom:  When children are bored they will look for something to do…most of the time the thing they find to do is exactly something you do NOT want them to do.

3.  Too High Expectations:  We set their expectations too high.  We expect a child who has just learned to do a shape puzzle to complete a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle…way too hard so now let’s just toss the pieces like frisbees!

4.  Too LOW Expectations: Yes, if you can set them too high, you can set them too low.  If the expectation is too low, the children will get BORED (see number 2 to find out where this leads).

5.  Miscommunication/lack of communication:  Their language is still developing; even when we think they have developed a huge vocabulary, they are still trying to figure out how to USE that language.  Plus, if I am playing in the blocks and someone comes up and takes a block, I think he’s taking that block from me…HE thinks he is going to help me build.

So, with 5 categories, there should be 5 solutions, right?  Well, in the basics, YES!

1.  Make sure to be constantly giving attention for the good things.  If you are constantly saying, “Thank you Johnny for putting your dishes away” or “Let’s read this book together” or “I’m going to take this group to go to the office”, then they are benefiting from all the attention they need.

2.  Here is one of many balancing acts we must do in the classroom. It is important to be “in the moment” with the children oohing and ahing and exploring right alongside of them; however, you need to also be 5 minutes ahead of them at the same time, “When they get bored with THIS, what am I going to do?”  Are you going to clean up that activity and pull out another one?  Are you going to add to the activity they are involved in?  ALWAYS have a plan in the direction you want the activity to go…or THEY will have a plan and it is often times NOT the plan you want.

3 and 4.  This is another balancing act and in several ways.  You can have three children in front of you and have one activity that is TOO HIGH of an expectation for one, TOO LOW for another, and perfect for the third.  I may ask ONE child to complete a jigsaw puzzle, the SECOND child to complete a shape puzzle, and the THIRD child to help the first child by showing them how to complete it.

While having the tables set for lunch one child may be need to be given one item at a time (put one plate at each chair, now put one napkin next to each plate) while child two would be bored with this task that is too easy (so, take these plate and napkins and put them next to each chair) or else he will be tossing the plates like frisbees.

5.  This is the BIGGEST problem and the most involved solution.  Assess the situation and then GIVE THE CHILDREN THE WORDS they need to solve the problem themselves.  You are COACHING them through the situation and NOT solving it for them. 

Tell HER, “Tell him ‘I want to build with you.’”

Tell HIM, “Can she build with you?  Tell her okay.  Tell her what you want her to do.”

You need to work hard at talking them through situations to help them better learn to socialize and eventually they will get it on their own…a LONG eventually…like MONTHS AND MONTHS!

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