Understanding Positive Discipline in Schools
Before we even address how this works, please understand that discipline is not punishment. Let me say that again, discipline is not punishment! These are two different concepts. Although having a disciplinarian in the building, normally the vice principal or principal depending on your school size, can be confusing when trying to distinguish between punishment and discipline; we are going to get it straight right now.
Positive discipline demands positivity and respect from you when interacting with your students. The basic premise behind positive discipline, is to teach your students – not to punish them! This teaching occurs when students observe how you react to them, how you go about solving problems, and if praise and discipline is directly related to their actions. Many times a punishment may be needed in response to a student’s actions. Common examples include physical altercations, stealing, and bullying. Although a negative consequence will need to be issued in these cases, there is still a whole lot of positive discipline (teaching) that can take place if done right.
Check It Out…
Check out the specifics in these easy to use checklists:
□ Discipline happens over time to help children hear, see, and perform appropriate behaviors.
□ Discipline teaches children right from wrong in patient, caring, and positive ways.
□ Discipline helps to improve children’s self-esteem and sense of belonging by giving them opportunities to experience success.
□ Discipline gives positive reinforcement for the right choices children make.
□ Educators who use discipline take the time to talk with students, to answer their questions, show them right from wrong, and allow for compromise.
In what ways are you using discipline with the students you come in contact with daily? Check off the boxes that apply to your style. Once done, take a minute to reflect upon what you can improve. Is always good to remind yourself that we are not perfect. In fact, there is no such thing as perfect. Learning and improving are a part of all our lives.
□ Punishment does not teach right from wrong.
□ Punishment is essentially negative as it involves people in authority (adults) asserting power and control over others (students).
□ Teaching or supervisory methods that rely solely on control over students only result in greater misbehavior because they end up seeking more control over their lives and attempt to make choices out of rebellion.
□ Punishment rarely includes time taken to explain things to students or to show them what is acceptable. Punishment for actions without an explanation of why does no good in changing behavior.
□ Punishment does not work to get rid of misbehavior in the long run.
In what ways are your students being subjected to punishment by you or someone else throughout their educational day? Check off the boxes that apply to your style and/or to the responses of your students. If any boxes were checked, decide how you can transform your punishment style of teaching and educating to align more with the discipline styles that we started with.
Move Forward with positive discipline, leave behind punishment. To do this you must take a look at the educational environment and begin to change the factors that are contributing to students’ behavior. When working to make changes, start by looking in the mirror. Change starts with you.
You must be ready to use basic positive discipline skills introduced above so that your planning skills and reactions to situations are beneficial to developing students’ life skills.
So how do you begin this learning process? You already have. If you do nothing else right now but use the checklists to determine your style, you are well on your way to taking the right steps to improving your knowledge of how to be a successful educator – positive disciplinarian.
Barb, LMHC, CPC, ED.M, CAS
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