Posts Tagged Rules Versus Responsibilities

Rules and Discipline

Rules are meant to control—not inspire.

Rules are necessary in games. Between people, however, rules result in adversarial relationships and actually increase discipline issues. Why? Because rules require enforcement. In addition, rules are often stated in negative terms and imply an imposed consequence if not followed.

Rules place the teacher in the position of the enforcer—a cop wearing a blue uniform with copper buttons—rather than of a teacher, coach, mentor, facilitator of learning, or educator.

Enforcing rules can result in power struggles that rarely result in win-win situations or good relationships.

Upon analysis, you will see that rules are either procedures or expectations. Therefore, rather than relying on rules, you will be much more effective if you teach procedures, … >>>


Instill Responsibility

I was recently talking to a mother of a five-year-old boy about rules versus responsibilities. I’ve often said that rules are meant to control, while responsibilities empower. This mother was a great example of how this mindset plays out in the home.

She explained that in their home, everyone (mom, dad, and all the children) all have the same responsibility: “to help the family unit run smoothly.” How each person acts out that responsibility is up to them. She explained that even her five-year-old son had this responsibility instilled in him. In fact, it’s common for him to do the laundry (correctly), clean up the dinner plates (without being asked), and tidy up the living room each morning before leaving … >>>


Rules, Citizenship, and Discipline

A common practice in classrooms around the world is to establish classroom rules, either by the teacher alone or by the teacher and students cooperatively. Rules are necessary in games, but in relationships they are counterproductive. Although the establishment of rules has good intentions, their implementation often produces deleterious effects.

When Johns Hopkins University researchers analyzed data from more than 600 schools, they found six characteristics associated with discipline problems. Notice that the first three concerned rules.

  1. Rules were unclear or perceived as unfairly or inconsistently enforced.
  2. Students didn’t believe in the rules.
  3. Teachers and administrators didn’t know what the rules were or disagreed on the proper responses to student misconduct.
  4. Teacher-administrator cooperation was poor or the administration was inactive.
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Responsibilities to Live By

Instead of relying on rules, consider using the term “responsibilities.” This is much more than a mere word choice. In contrast to “rules,” “responsibilities” empower and elevate. They are stated in positive terms, whereas rules are often stated in negative terms. When communications are in positive terms, there is a natural tendency for you to help rather than to punish. So, rather than using the term “rules,” consider using a term that describes what you want to encourage.

For example, you probably have some rules in your home that state:

House Rules

  • No hitting.
  • Don’t make a mess.
  • Don’t blame others for my mistakes.
  • Stay out of my brother’s room.
  • Don’t be late.

All of these statements are meant … >>>