Discipline Positively

Positivity—thinking and communicating in positive terms—works wonders in drawing others toward us and having them do what we would like them to do. This is as true today and it was generations ago. In fact, I recently read an interesting story that depicts an ancient form of what I would call “discipline positivity.”

In the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman, and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused. Then each person in the tribe, regardless of age, begins to talk out loud to the accused, one at a time, about all the good things he has done in his lifetime. Every incident that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy is recounted. All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindness are recited carefully and at length. The tribal ceremony does not cease until everyone is drained of every positive comment s/he can muster about the person in question. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person symbolically and literally is welcomed back into the tribe. (Author, Alice Walker)

What lessons can we learn from this? Namely, if discouragement is the problem, then encouragement must be the answer! The next time your child or student misbehaves, before rushing to the usual discipline measures of imposed punishments or trying to entice the child to behave by offering a reward, try a little positivity. It makes discipline so much less stressful and more effective.