The Whole Child
Building Inner Controls:
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Ten ways to make discipline situations worse

1. Make your children wait a lot.

Expect them to sit quietly when they do have to wait, preferably like little ladies and gentlemen with their hands in their laps and their feet on the floor.

2. Be inconsistent.

Let children ride their trikes on the grass on days when you don't feel up to par, but take the trikes away when you're feeling better, because it is against the rules to ride on the grass.

3. Be unreasonable.

Never make allowances for children who are tired, hungry, coming down with or getting over something. It will also ruin the day to have a great many arbitrary rules that are never explained although they are rigidly enforced.

4. Decide that the way that the to let children learn for themselves is never to intervene.

Pay no attention to the possibility that the younger, smaller children are being bullied and that some older ones are actually learning that "might makes right".

5. Be consistent: Always punish the children by doing the same thing to them.

For example, no matter what they do, make them sit in the office, or don't let them have dessert at lunch.

6. Give up halfway through a confrontation.

Then, let the child run off. After all, you're not suppose to leave your work station.

7. Lose your temper and yell at the children.

This will only frighten them into behaving and make you feel better.

8. Strike, pinch or jerk an arm of a child when no one is looking.

This will also frighten children badly, but maybe they will behave after that.

9. Ignore the problem.

Just send the troublemaker off to play with the new teacher. It will help him gain new experience.

10. Talk too much.

Confuse the child: Moralize, shame, or embarrass her, or warn her that you are going to tell her mother! This will help her understand the consequences of her actions and set an example of verbal control for her.

Source: The Whole Child: Developmental Education for the Early Years Sixth Edition by Joanne Hendrick; pp. 281-282. Reprinted with permission from Merrill-Prentice Hall.

Some Practical Ways to Stop Discipline Situations Before They Start

Reward behavior you want to see continued; don't reward behavior you wish to discourage.

  • Children repeat behavior from which they obtain satisfaction. Therefore, when undesirable behavior persists, it is a good idea to take a look at what the child is getting out of it. Preventing the payoff can help eliminate the behavior.
  • It is also effective to note positive actions on the part of the child and to respond to them with pleasure, since this positive reward is a potent reinforcer.

    Be persistent.

  • Sometimes teachers try something for a day, or even just once or twice during a day, and expect such a short-term change to work miracles. When it doesn't, they give up. Don't give up!
  • It often takes repeated experience for learning to take place, but children can and will learn if you stick to your guns!

    Consistently position yourself so that you are able to see a large area of the room or play yard at the same time.

  • Teachers who circulate within the supervision area instead of remaining planted in one place are more likely to be aware of what is going on.
  • Awareness can help children avoid many unnecessary confrontations and misunderstandings by providing opportunities for timely interventions and positive teaching to take place instead of fights.

    When trouble repeats itself, analyze the situation and try changing it rather than nagging the child.

  • When something happens over and over, in addition to checking up on payoffs, you should also think about changing the situation instead of the child.

    Emphasize the positive rather than the negative; always tell the child the correct thing to do.

  • When using directions, rather than saying "Stay out of the puddle," say "Walk around the puddle". This technique is desirable not only because it reduces negative criticism, but also because it directs the child toward something she can do that is acceptable.

    Warn ahead of time to make transitions easier.

  • Warning ahead gives the children time to wind up what they are doing. You might say "It's going to be lunchtime soon. I wonder what we're going to have?" This take the abruptness out of the situation and makes compliance with routines much easier for children.

    Arrange the environment to promote positive interactions.

  • Attention to traffic patterns can also increase constructive participation and reduce problem behavior.
  • Defining areas by using rugs helps guide children's feet away from trouble.
  • Large rooms can be broken up with bookcases, bulletin boards, and Japanese futons. This will physically detour children around activity centers, the temptation to disrupt what other children are doing is reduced.
  • Cozy corners for books, a quiet retreat with some simple manipulative activity, or simply an area in which to stretch out and do nothing can meet this need and reduce the fatigue and irritability that so often lead to loss of self-control.

    Have as few rules as possible, but make the ones you do have stick.

  • Unless the teacher is watchful, rules with grow like a thicket around each experience. But if situations are reviewed from time to time, unnecessary restrictions can be weeded out.
  • If the reason behind the rule is not easy to come up with, it may be a sign that the rule is not important and could be abandoned.

    When supervising children, plan ahead.

  • Try to anticipate the point at which the children will lose interest or the play will fall apart and have alternatives ready to propose that will help the play continue to flourish.
  • Tactfully posing several possibilities to the children will serve to continue play and to lengthen concentration as well as keep the children happily occupied and out of trouble.

    Keep the day interesting.

  • To combat idleness, the center day needs variety--not only variety of pace to avoid the fatigue that leads to misbehavior, but also a variety of things to do to maintain interest and fun and to keep the children busy in productive ways.
  • Accomplishing this requires planning and sensitivity, but it is well worth the investment of effort.

    Source: The Whole Child: Developmental Education for the Early Years Sixth Edition by Joanne Hendrick; pp. 282-286. Reprinted with permission from Merrill-Prentice Hall.

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