Discipline and Visiting Children

Sometimes you may have children in your care for only a short period of time, such as when substitute teaching or when you have children visiting your home. When you are with children for just short bursts of time, is it possible to utilize the Discipline Without Stress approach to make your time together easier and less stressful?

The answer is “yes.” While you may not have time to go over the hierarchy and the various levels of behavior, you can decide to make it a habit to use the three principles of POSITIVITY, CHOICE, and REFLECTION in all your interactions.

1. You can phrase your communications positively.
For example, if you’re subbing, you can begin the class with a confident smile, letting them know that you are pleased to be working with your favorite age group. If the child is visiting your home, you can express how happy you are to get to spend time with him/her.

2. You can build small choices into the day.
As a substitute teacher you might say: “Your teacher left me a plan for the day. She said that we need to complete a written assignment and discuss some review questions for Friday’s test. Which would you like to do first? Let’s take a quick vote.”

If the child is at your home, you can offer choices of what to do to pass the time. You might say, “You can stay in the living room and play with the toys you brought with you, or you can go outside and play with some of the neighborhood kids. Which would you like to do?”

3. You can use reflective questioning to prompt thinking.
If the child you’re spending time with starts to misbehave, rather than resort to traditional discipline techniques (time out, stand in corner, withhold a treat, etc.) you can help the child reflect on his or her behavior. You might ask, “How long are you going to continue this?” “Is what you are doing helping you get what you want?” or “What do you notice about the experience you are having?”

When you focus on positivity, choice, and reflection, you can make any interaction with a child—even a brief one—much more meaningful.