Using Discipline without Stress in Preschool with Students Who Have Special Needs

Posted by Teri Gibson, a member of the Discipline without Stress mailring.

I have just begun using DWS this year with my 4 yr. old special needs preschool classes.  I absolutely love it.  No, my class is not perfect. No, DWS does not solve all behavior problems.  What it does is this: For the first time, I am able to “reward” my kids that are being good, while helping the kids that are not!   It makes me view everything as a teachable moment, rather than a child’s attempt to undermine.  I love the way it stresses the positive and actually encourages me to pay more attention to the children who are doing the right thing.  I still have much to learn and need to practice many aspects but I am extremely excited about the journey. So far things are going very well.   I believe I would have more problems with the personalities in my class if I was doing it the old way.

The idea of teaching every procedure is also a huge life-saver!  I have a child with mild autism and another that may be autistic.  The concept of 6 to 8 weeks for them to learn the procedures was very hard but has reaped many rewards!  It is tough to slow down and NOT be doing some of the things I was doing last year (and that other teachers are doing at our school!)  However, I don’t believe I am behind.  I may not do as many things as the previous year, but content-wise I am not behind and may even be ahead! They are listening better (notice, not perfectly but definitely better!) and transitions are smoother because we practice!

I am trying not to preach too much to co-workers, but it is hard to curtail my enthusiasm.  I definitely want to become better at this approach.   I think it has so much to offer the GOOD kids.  Some of the behavior problems in my class are beyond a simple behavior plan.  We may make a difference for them, we may not.  I have always been concerned for the good kids when all we spend our time doing is trying to catch the problem kids being good, or offering rewards to the problem kids, etc. etc.  FInally, I believe this approach helps ALL kids with the same approach.  I’m sold!!