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Monday, December 31, 2001

Discipline with Dignity

Discipline with Dignity
from (Volume 2, Issue 6 of Toolbox Tidbits)

David Whitaker, Toolbox Training

Discipline is often the most challenging issue facing child care programs. It is challenging to develop a discipline policy that fits with the philosophy of the program as well as the families of the children in the program. If your program is part of a greater whole (such as a program housed in a school or church or recreation facility), the issue becomes even more complex.

It certainly doesn’t make it any easier to throw staff with very different backgrounds into the mix. Each person will have his or her own values regarding appropriate discipline approaches.

“Discipline with Dignity” is built on the fundamental notion that regardless of the varied approaches and philosophies, the goal is to help children be successful. To do that, the adults can create an environment that encourages positive behavior. Adults can also regulate their own behavior by watching to see that their body language and word choice are sending positive messages to children instead of negative ones.

I recently was privileged to conduct the Discipline with Dignity workshop for the Fort Osage School District’s SAC program (in the Kansas City metropolitan area). The group offered these “words of advice” regarding words and phrases that either encourage or discourage:

  • Just a minute please.
  • Well done.
  • Great job.
  • Can you please…
  • I’m proud of you.
  • Excellent job.
  • Let’s try it together.
  • Be quiet please.
  • You’re helpful.
  • Why don’t we…
  • No!
  • Stop that!
  • I’m sick of your behavior.
  • Shut up.
  • Stop because I said so.
  • I’m going to send you to the office.
The group also developed this list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for effective discipline:

  • Get your body down to child’s level.
  • Encourage.
  • Assist.
  • Praise.
  • Offer choices.
  • Guide.
  • Keep a positive tone in your voice.
  • Nurture.
  • Explain.
  • Listen.
  • Just sit.
  • Act like a kid.
  • Take your mood out on the children.
  • Ignore children.
  • Yell.
  • Discuss parent issues with kids.
  • Put kids down.
  • Argue.
  • Threaten.
  • Share personal problems.
Even when adults are frustrated with children, they must acknowledge that children want the same things we do – love, respect, understanding, caring. Always be sure that you are practicing “discipline with dignity.”

Want to learn more about discipline with dignity? Check out the Workshops page for discipline-related workshops.