A Discipline Problem: Overdue Library Books

The school librarian sent out overdue library notices on three different colors of paper in an attempt to retrieve books. The first color was a notice that the book was overdue. The second colored notice announced that a book was really late and that the next notice would be a detention. The third was a notice that the book was three weeks overdue and that the student had to serve a detention.

The librarian was sending out more than 200 notices each week. The process had turned into a bit of a joke with students who realized that the first two notices really didn’t count.

Using the Discipline Without Stress approach, the librarian sent the following notice the next day when books were overdue, “What would a responsible student do today to renew or return a book?”

The only “problem” with the approach was that the librarian was overwhelmed with students returning or renewing their books the first time she sent out the new notice.

She sent almost no late notices the next day. 

Let’s remember that positivity, choice, and reflection are less stressful and more effective than coercive, negative, and threatening approaches.