Can this discipline system really be used with young children in Kindergarten and First Grade? It seems as if it would be above their heads.
I’ve met a number of people, both in person and on the Internet, who express concern that the concepts of Discipline without Stress are too sophisticated to be of value to young children. Today, on the second day of a new school year, I had an interesting discussion with a six-year-old that proves to me once again that even young children can benefit greatly from exposure to the thinking of this discipline approach. The basic understandings are accessible to students of all ages.
Most years, by the second day of school we’re up and running with our new students but this year we’ve had an extra day on hold. Due to an unexpected increase in student enrolment, an additional teacher will be assigned to our school tomorrow, so it was decided that we would wait one more day to organize permanent classes. As a result, today was spent with our “old students” from last year, doing a back-to-school review; some reading, some math and a discussion of the Discipline without Stress Hierarchy.
We began by looking at the lower two levels of the Hierarchy and reviewing the fact that operation at Levels A and B is unacceptable. Several children explained that it’s “not nice” to be around people who operate on these lower levels. A couple of kids mentioned that over the summer they had occasionally felt bullied at home by an older sibling or by bigger kids on their street. I asked how they chose to handle such situations.
Several students mentioned that they “get help” when they feel bullied. A number of others said that they sometimes ignore things that bullies do or say to them as long as “it isn’t too bad.” Greg said that he had made his own Hierarchy chart at home, to show to his older brother whenever he felt his sibling was being a bully.
That’s when Cameron put up his hand. He said that his dad had told him that when other people do things that are mean, he should “do the exact same mean thing back to THEM.” I didn’t make a comment but instead responded with “Hmmm.” Cameron continued: “I don’t do that though,” he said, “because if I did the same thing that they were doing, I would be on a low level too – just like them.” Knowing the quiet contemplative nature of this little boy, it was obvious that he had been seriously thinking about this in his own little head, even before today’s discussion in school.
Little conversations, like this one today with Cameron, prove to me that sometimes even young children who have been exposed to the thinking of Discipline without Stress for just one year, have a better understanding of some concepts of social and personal development than some adults will ever have!
Through exposure to Discipline without Stress young people come to realize that they have the powerful ability to be in control of their own lives. They come to understand that at every moment of the day they are making decisions. I feel privileged to be able to introduce my five and six year old students to the four levels of the Discipline without Stress Hierarchy and in so doing, give them something solid upon which to consciously base their thinking and decisions.