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Discipline By Design Series – Part 3 of 12 – Maintaining Control without Shouting

So far, we’ve discussed the value that understanding personalities can play in discipline as well as the importance of implementing clear procedures from day one (LINK), whether you are a parent, a teacher, or both.

But still those old habits creep back up. You encounter a student that you have to try your hardest to enjoy, or you just don’t know how to handle your youngest child who seems to know every single button of yours to push to drive you crazy.

You’re tempted to yell, to pound the desk, to punish. How can you keep from raising your voice in disciplining these out-of-control kiddos?!

THE KEY TO DISCIPLINE…AND WHAT DOESN’T WORK

As I’ve written before, the key to discipline is one little word: detachment. Take a few minutes to read that previous post if you haven’t before, or find more in my free eBook Discipline to the Design of the Child.

If used properly, detachment will always win in the big picture.

But let’s talk about some practices that both experience and research have shown do not work.

INEFFECTIVE DISCIPLINE PRACTICES

1. Vague or unenforceable rules. The importance of clear rules becomes obvious when observing, as researchers have, the ineffectiveness of rules such as “Be in the right place at the right time.”

In this post, I am going to have you think through some examples of what-not-to-do and what-to-do on your own. If you have trouble with any particular questions or any type of child, that’s good. Struggling is not a sign of weakness unless you stop there. I challenge you to work through the questions that are more difficult for you. If you really come across one you can’t wrap your mind around, you can always email me at contactus@jodycapehart.com.

Scenario: Imagine you are confronting a child who loves to gripe a lot. She complains about everything – the grading system, homework, food, bedtime – you name it! This child hangs their head, whines, and mopes. She hates work and does little of it. Instead, she wastes time claiming that she is being picked on. She creates disharmony in the classroom and at home.

With the child who always complains, can you think of two examples of vague or unenforceable ways to handle this individual?

a.

b.

Next, how can you handle this child in ways that are specific, enforceable, and effective?

c.

d.

e.

2. Excessive punishment. Avoid draconian punishments and punishments delivered without accompanying support or retraining.

Among the kinds of punishment that produce particularly negative attitudes in children is that of public punishment. As discussed last week, instead you should establish logical consequences in advance, communicate these consequences, and then follow with encouragement for improving behavior.

Scenario: Imagine you are confronting a child who is the king of excuses. This boy has an excuse for everything, from lost assignments to bad behavior. This child doesn’t fulfill his responsibilities but offers an often-creative excuse that may even sound probable…or not! Then he tries to get support from others to back him up. Over time, you can become worn down by his behavior and might even begin to dislike him. You feel he is lying to you and causing more problems than you can handle. So you decide to punish him.

What are some examples of excessive punishment or inappropriate punishment that you might be tempted to use?

a.

b.

c.

How can you reframe punishment for this “king of excuses” along with the appropriate retraining and support so that it becomes effective and not divisive?

d.

e.

f.

3. Ignored behavior. A child’s attitude and behavior are both adversely affected when adults ignore violations of classroom and household rules.

Scenario: Imagine you are confronting a child who is a crier, someone who claims foul at every opportunity. This girl cries quickly and often. She cries when faced with mistakes, cries to get her own way, cries when faced with authority. Yet she quits crying just as soon as the adult discipling her makes the desired concession she was seeking all along.

Can you think of two examples of vague or unenforceable ways to handle this girl?

a.

b.

How can you handle her in a way that is specific, enforceable, and effective?

c.

d.

e.

4. (This one is more for teachers than parents, though parents ought to have this knowledge, too). Out-of-school suspension. For the majority of cases, research does not support the use of out-of-school suspension.

Most times, suspension does not help either the suspended student or the other students. It simply gets rid of troublesome students rather than changing the school environment in such a way as to prevent or reduce discipline problems.

Reserve the use of suspension for serious misconduct. Over 90% of suspensions are handed out for behaviors that are more annoying and irritating than truly serious. Discipline policies should be written and enforced in such a way that suspension, if used at all, is not turned to for these less-serious infractions.

Scenario: Imagine that you are confronting a student who is always stirring up trouble. He pits students against teachers, kids against each other, and even teacher against teacher.

Can you think of three reasons you might be tempted to suspend him, and the consequences, both long- and short-term, of each?

a.

b.

c.

How can you handle this boy in a way that is specific, enforceable, and effective, while still in school?

d.

e.

f.

MOVING FROM NEGATIVE TO POSITIVE

This week we discussed what not to do. Next week we turn our attention back to those different temperaments we covered in Part One and find some positive ways to use multiple-intelligence to utilize a child’s strengths rather than focus on their weaknesses and shortcomings.

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jodycapehart@churchleaders.com'
Jody Capehart has more than 40 years' experience as a children's minister. She's the co-author of The Discipline Guide for Children's Ministry and the author of numerous other books. She currently teaches Sunday School at Stonebriar Community Church.