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Discipline By Design – Part 12 of 12 – Creating a Climate for Success

We’re finally here. Part 12 of 12 in our “Discipline By Design Series.”

We’ve covered learning styles and personalities, various ages, specific developmental problems, and the more difficult discipline issues that can arise.

For this last issue, I want to discuss how the climate of your home or classroom plays a major role in either increasing or decreasing your discipline problems.

Now, I’m not saying that the following principles will completely eliminate your discipline issues. But if you remember from the beginning of this series, I have stressed that discipline is not about punishing wrong actions but creating an environment and atmosphere that encourages right behavior.

The best compliment I ever receive as Head of School is when a prospective or current family says to me, “There is just something different about this school. The climate is so peaceful, warm, and inviting. We love it here.”

As The School Whisperer, I know it takes a lot of careful planning and work to cultivate the school climate you want. But it’s essential.

The same is just as true for the home. The climate you create helps point children in the right direction. Will they still stray from the path at times? Of course. They’re children, and part of their development is to test you and and see what happens.

But with the right climate, they know where to return.

Below are some general guidelines you can incorporate into your home or classroom to help cultivate the climate you want for your children:

  • Have high standards for children and trust that with the right instruction and encouragement, they will meet those standards for good behavior, manners, and respect.
  • Communicate your rules clearly. Nothing is worse than children who are willing to follow your lead…if only they knew what you expected of them.
  • Keep most guidelines general and broad. Don’t micromanage every single possible action or decision. Instead, make rules like “Keep your hands to yourself” and “Be respectful of others.” When you see a violation, don’t let your first reaction be to punish them. Instead, gently remind them of the rule and show them how their action broke the rule, which they might not have realized at first.
  • Don’t negotiate. Once you have gently reminded someone of a rule, there need to be logical consequences.
  • Be open to suggestions. This is another reason to keep the rules general – it allows you to listen to input from your students and children. Getting them involved helps them invest in the climate with you, making you partners, not combatants.
  • Make sure you create as warm and nurturing a climate as possible. Obviously each person has their own personality, so don’t think I mean every parent needs to become mushy and each teacher ought to give twenty hugs a day to every student. What this does mean is that children need to know you care and respect them as individuals. How you demonstrate that will depend on your personality. Just remember that there are different personalities which need different types of communication.
  • Be encouraging. Take interest in children’s accomplishments and be balanced in your praise. Don’t simply praise talent, but emphasize effort as often as possible. Be specific in your comments so children see the cause-and-effect relationship between their actions and the outcome. And, please, don’t give imbalanced amounts of praise to different children but be encouraging toward everyone.
  • Take personal responsibility for what goes on. Don’t blame administration or the grandparents or the school or anyone else. Instead, be proactive in finding solutions to any issues that pop up.
  • Partner with your parent/teacher to form a healthy working relationship so that your child has consistent rules and expectations.
  • Finally, remember that the key to discipline isn’t being tough or mean. It’s about relationships. By showing that you care, are willing to listen, and are fair, you will have already won the battle for most issues. With a little more work, you can conquer even the toughest discipline issues you face.

Blessings to you, your families, and your students and schools as you incorporate these 12 lessons into your own unique approaches. I have always been a believer in blending models and using the best I find from each one. I hope you have found some tools here that you can use.

You can also order the full DVD series and workbook here, or I can visit your school or parent group if you would like to have me come as a guest speaker. Just email me at contactus@jodycapehart.com.

If you missed any lessons or just want a refresher (almost every guideline listed today above was covered in more detail in the previous 11 parts), just start over here with Part One and move your way through.

You do the most important two jobs in the world, so keep that in mind the next time your little angels are giving you a hard time!

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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.