Discipline Methods for Teachers
Discipline is one of the biggest problems every teacher faces. Learning to discipline children effectively is hard work according to research findings at Oklahoma State University and other universities. Positive discipline is much better that punishment. It is the way to help children learn self-control. These controls help the child know what to do and when to do it even when adults are not around to help them. The purpose of discipline is to help children become responsible, confident, able to think for themselves, to care about others and to live satisfying and useful lives. The type of discipline you use strongly influences the child’s self-esteem.
Change the Setting. If children misbehave inside, take them outside. If a story lasts 10 minutes, and the children can not sit still, select a shorter story. If the children run through the room, arrange the furniture to block the path. Discipline problems decrease when teachers use developmentally appropriate practices such as choices among meaningful activities and not expecting young children to share, wait for a turn or assemble in quiet straight lines. Developmentally appropriate equipment, materials, schedules and curriculum guide children toward correct behavior.
Redirect, Distract, or Divert Attention. When a child is about to do something wrong, redirect the child’s attention to something desirable. Teachers can redirect a child who is sad about resting to comfort a doll or look at a book. Teachers can redirect a child who wants to play actively to a large motor activity. To use this method the classroom and the teacher must have acceptable choices available to offer to the children.
Be Firm. Being firm does not mean being loud or controlling. It means deciding which rules are most important. Be firm about these rules. Clearly tell the children what they are to do. Show and teach them how to follow the rules. Your tone of voice, words and actions show that you mean what you say. Children usually comply when adults are firm. Research findings indicate that children benefit from knowing that a responsible person is in charge.
Be Detached. Pretend this is not your group. Imagine that you are substituting. Most of us can stay calm when we feel less personal involvement.
Stay Alert. Deal with the situation before it gets out of hand. Supervise infants and toddlers closely enough to see, hear, and touch them. Supervise preschoolers by at least sight and sound. Give school-age children privacy and responsibility by sometimes supervising them from a position where you can hear them without seeing them. Correct children before you become frustrated and upset. Watch difficult situations very closely.
Time-Out is not punishment. It is special time to calm oneself. It gives everybody, adults and children, a chance to calm down and gain self-control. When children fight or seem to lose self-control, simply say, "You need a time-out." Send them to an area of the classroom or playground to calm themselves. They might listen to a tape, play with clay, look at a book, draw or release their frustration through large movements like throwing or walking. The type and length of the time-out will vary for each person and each situation. Eventually children will learn to pace themselves and schedule their own time-outs.
Reverse Time-Out is for teachers. When you are upset or angry say so and show the children how you calm yourself. This teaches the children how to use a time-out and gives them a model of self-control to follow.
Allowing Consequences is a discipline method that clearly says, "Experience is the best teacher." It means letting children have the dignity of managing the consequences of their behavior. Adults impose logical consequences such as, "You threw the play dough. You can not play with it again until this afternoon." Nature imposes natural consequences such as "You ran inside and hurt yourself. You will remember to walk next time." Social consequences may combine influences. "You knocked over Maria’s blocks. She is angry. You must help her build them back up or play in another area."
Ignore Misbehavior. Sometime children misbehave just to get attention, for example, having a temper tantrum or using foul words. Once you have described the correct behavior, it may be best to ignore the attention-getting behaviors. The same is true of behaviors like silliness or exaggeration. These behaviors reflect the child’s immaturity, not misbehavior. Your best tool is your attention. Give children massive amounts of attention when they behave well. Try not to require that the children misbehave to get your attention.