Friday, April 11, 2008

See Discipline as Teaching

Can you imagine a teacher yelling as he teaches the times tables to his fourth grade class? Or getting red-faced and frustrated as he diagrams a sentence on the board? That’s absurd! And the students, although not particularly excited about multiplication and nouns and adjectives know that these things are really just part of school and school is part of life. A good teacher tries to keep a good attitude as she hands out assignments. The effective instructor sees himself as an ally to his student, using creativity and effort to do all he can to reach his apprentice with the knowledge he seeks to impart.

When we begin to see discipline this way, then it changes the tone and climate of our parental discipline. I call my two year old over to lay down on the changing pad. He refuses. I call him over again and explain, “if you don’t come now, you will get a time out.” This is not an empty threat, it is the promise of a teaching tool. He still doesn’t come. I get up and move toward him … he comes running to lay down on the changing pad, but it’s too late. This is not first-time-obedience (we will talk more about that later) so the time out is administered. Please see the post from March 28 (Be Prepared with the Proper Discipline) for step by step instructions on giving a 2-year-old a time out. But this discipline is a normal part of the teaching process, it does not have to be a source of anger and frustration if you can see it from this perspective.

“But, I forgot.”

A very popular method of attempting to get out of a consequence is saying, “I forgot.” Let’s say you have a rule that homework left at school results in no TV that night. Or you that if you leave your cereal bowl on the table, you are charged a cleaning-fee of 50 cents out of your allowance. In each of these cases when the consequences are applied, the child says, “But that’s nor fair, I forgot.” You simply explain, “then hopefully this consequence will help you to remember next time. I know you forgot, I am not mad and you’re not in trouble, this is just to help you learn.”

This concept of “I’m not mad and you’re not in trouble, these are just the consequences to help you learn,” can alleviate a mountain of unnecessary screaming, yelling and arguing. By the way, once this has been explained, if the arguing continues, there is a consequence for the arguing separate from the original discipline.

Next week: Aim for the Heart … the true goal of discipline.

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