Every parent and teacher struggles with child discipline from time to time. They want to use authority in their approach, but not necessarily be labeled as authoritarian. The keys to the success of using authority without being punitive are in using positive communications, empowering by offering choices, and by prompting reflection. These practices instill the mindset that the objective is to raise responsibility, rather than to punish. I talk about each of these in detail in my books Discipline Without Stress and Parenting Without Stress.
Punishment fosters evasion of responsibility and also has the disadvantage of increasing the distance between parents and children. A far more effective approach than punishment is to treat any situation as a teaching and … >>>
When enforcing rules, imposing punishments, or doling out rewards, be aware that these approaches aim at obedience, rather than promoting responsibility—and that obedience does not create desire.
The most effective approach to have young people do what adults want them to do is to tap into their emotions. Following rules requires thinking—not feelings. Yet feelings and emotions drives the majority of our decisions.
I use the word “Responsibilities” rather than “Rules” because I am able to have young people WANT to become responsible. I do this by tapping into the good feelings a person gets from being responsible. Once young people are exposed to the Hierarchy of Social Development, they want to raise themselves to the highest level—simply by … >>>
I’ve long-asserted that rewards are counter-intuitive. A friend told me the following story that illustrates how rewards also sabotage teamwork. My friend was chatting with a man who coaches sports teams of 8 and 9-year-olds. He mentioned that he had a lot of difficulty this year in getting the kids to work together as a team.
My friend, an experienced primary teacher, started to offer some suggestions that she had found successful for developing an atmosphere of teamwork in her classroom. But the gentleman quickly stopped her.
“Oh, you don’t understand,” he said. “It’s not the kids who are the problem; it’s the parents! The parents have all told their kids that they would get money for every goal they … >>>
Many teachers ask me for behavior management tips. They complain about “unpredictable” or “problematic” students and want to know to minimize these challenges.
I’m sure we all have experienced “unpredictable” or “problematic” student behaviors in our classes. The key question is how can we respond to them in positive ways that are helpful to the student exhibiting the behavior, to the rest of our students, and to our own sanity?
In order to foster positive, not punitive classroom management strategies, teachers need to always keep this question in mind: “Will what I am about to do or say bring me closer or will it push me away farther from the person with whom I am communicating?” This is the most … >>>
We’ve all seen or interacted with a troubled teen. They’re rebellious, defiant, and even rude in some cases. They certainly challenge parents and teachers who want what’s best for them yet are tired of dealing with them.
A parent wrote to me about her 15-year-old daughter. She said that her troubled teen was determined to boycott any parenting techniques the parents tried to employ, including suggestions from the Parenting Without Stress book.
According to the parent, the daughter asserted that she was moving out as soon as she turned 18. The parent also commented that the daughter usually made good choices on the big decisions, but was miserable to live with on a daily basis, especially when stressed. The … >>>
No matter what subject you teach, you can practice positive discipline for inattentive students.
Inattentive students are certainly a challenge, but they need not derail your lesson plan. After all, at some point all students will ignore a lesson going on in class. Perhaps they are preoccupied with a personal challenge. Maybe they are tired. Or perhaps the information simply doesn’t interest them. Losing a student’s attention once in a while is normal. However, sometimes certain students ignore the lesson every day. Rather than listen to the teacher, they routinely do other things, such as homework for another class. This is when positive discipline is needed.
Here is a question a teacher wrote me recently: “I have a student in … >>>
When it comes to child discipline, are you still using traditional approaches, or have you realized that tradition doesn’t always work?
Tradition is the means by which many people solve problems, cope with life, and transmit values. Realize that tradition extends everywhere: how we eat, where and when we sleep, what we wear, what we say to ourselves and others, etc. Tradition is the way many people make decisions and solve problems. However, the decisions only work if we inherit the same problems our ancestors did.
Unfortunately, traditional approaches to many problems too often do not work these days because we’re living in a world of new problems in a rapidly changing society. Peter Drucker, the famous management guru, once … >>>
Most adults try to control a defiant child. But control rarely works. If you’ve tried to control a defiant child, regardless of their age, you’ve likely been met with counterwill.
“Counterwill” is the name for the natural human resistance to being controlled. Although adults experience this phenomenon, we seem to be surprised when we encounter it in children. Counterwill is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted dynamic in adult-child relations.
This instinctive resistance can take many forms—the reactive “No!” of the toddler, resistance when hurried, disobedience or defiance, and lack of motivation. Counterwill can manifest itself in procrastination or in doing the opposite of what is expected. It can be expressed as passivity, negativity, or argumentativeness and is such a universal … >>>
Both parents and teachers wonder what is the best discipline for children. For many adults, doling out punishments in the form of time-outs, principal referrals, or grounding is the norm. Those who know my work realize that I disagree with these approaches. So that then begs the question: “What is the best discipline for children?”
Based on what people have read about the Discipline Without Stress methodology, some may conclude that I am against all punishments. This is a wrong assumption. I have no problem with ADULTS using punishments for justice, fairness, or safety.
With young people, however, the problem is not the punishment or the consequence for inappropriate behavior (levels A and B); rather, it is the question of … >>>
Those who use the Discipline Without Stress methodology quickly realize that the approach has far reaching effects beyond the classroom.
Presently, our whole society is plagued with values confusion, resulting in inappropriate behaviors and decisions in every aspect of life: work, politics, home, etc. In fact, undesirable behaviors (Levels A and B) are prevalent and rampant in our society. The news provides us with endless examples of this. It seems apparent that our whole society is now in need of “raising responsibility” and of becoming more conscious of choices made so that our society as a whole does not feel the negative effects.
Knowing this, schools need Discipline Without Stress now more than ever so that the emerging generations can … >>>
One common early mistake teachers make is to think that knowledge of the levels, ABCD, is the “magic key” to Discipline Without Stress—that once students know the levels and can identify their level at any point in time, that all the teacher has to do is ask, “At what level is this behavior?” and the child will magically move to level C or D. If only it were that easy!
Realize that the levels are just a UNIQUE vocabulary aspect of Discipline Without Stress that enables teachers and students to more easily communicate about types of behavior choices. They also enable students to reflect silently in … >>>
When it comes to discipline, many people think rewards are effective for changing behavior. Although the intentions are admirable, giving rewards for expected appropriate behavior does as much harm as good. Rewards are simply not an effective discipline approach.
The following example of why rewards don’t work was sent to me from a reader:
“I just wanted to quickly relay a rewards-based disaster. One of our seventh graders, in fact, the daughter of a teacher, recently wanted to go to the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) reward dance. She is an A honor roll student, never a discipline problem, and a wonderful kid. In the haste of ‘bribing’ misbehaving students to be good, we neglected to ‘reward’ her for doing what … >>>
When students are following procedures, they are at an acceptable level of behavior: Level C. At this point discipline isn’t an issue, and you don’t need rules. The procedures and expectations accomplish what rules are supposed to do, and your need for discipline help diminishes. Even better, the procedures and expectations are better than discipline because they spell out clearly and exactly what you want students to do.
Level D is always available as a choice. You might refer to that option a lot, but always word it as an OPTION, which is the secret to making it even more attractive.
With very young students, aim at getting them to understand the difference in a very simple concrete way … >>>
Why is classroom management (procedures) so important for reducing discipline issues?
1) If you don’t have good classroom management, you will have (to a greater or lesser degree) chaos. You can’t teach someone to be SELF-disciplined in the midst of chaos. Simple as that!
2) The Discipline Without Stress approach itself is actually based on handling most discipline problems by helping the undisciplined students with procedures to keep themselves in control. It’s hard to help someone else create effective procedures if you aren’t doing it well yourself.
The foundation of the RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM (Part III of the DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS TEACHING MODEL) is to be PROACTIVE by teaching procedures BEFORE problems occur. In fact, effective teachers don’t focus on … >>>
For many people, discipline is tough. And often, people seek out discipline help because they feel helpless in a situation—as if they have no choice in the discipline situation. (The youngster did this, which means I must react this way.) But the fact is that you always have a choice as to how you respond when a youngster makes a mistake or does something wrong. Choice makes discipline much easier.
Here are your choices: You can focus on the PAST, as in, “You should have been more careful!” Or you can focus on the FUTURE, as in, “Next time, what can we do so that your milk will not spill?” (Notice the use of the collaborative “we,” rather than “you.”)… >>>
People being controlled, whether young or old, have low motivation to carry out decisions IMPOSED on them. As a result, enforcement and maintaining that control is both difficult and time-consuming. This is very evident in schools where teachers spend so much classroom time “playing police” by using outdated discipline techniques that aim at enforcing rules, rather than by teaching procedures and inspiring responsible behavior. No wonder so many people are in need of discipline help!
Controlling people aims at obedience, and obedience is not the same as discipline. Except where the relationship is so strong that the person being controlled feels that the control is in his or her own best interest, control rarely brings either desire or commitment.