The Best Discipline Phrase

When it comes to discipline, many teachers (and parents) believe that if they spell out consequences before the child misbehaves, then there will be no need for discipline later. For example, a teacher may say, “If you don’t finish your work, then you can’t go out for recess” or “If you talk during the lesson, then you’ll have extra homework questions.” These “if/then” consequence statements do little to curb behavior problems.

A better approach is to walk over to the misbehaving student and say, “Don’t worry what will happen later. We’ll talk about it after class.”

When it comes to changing behavior, not knowing what will happen is far more effective than knowing what will happen. Young people (really, most people) have a difficult time handling insecurity.

This statement will immediately stop the misbehavior because it will redirect the student’s attention. After class or at a quiet moment, elicit from the student a consequence fostered by the misbehavior. For example, “Shall we have you call a parent and explain your behavior?” “Shall we have you report to the principal and have you describe your level of behavior?” “Or perhaps you have a better idea to control your impulses next time you get an urge to do something you know you should not do.”

When you implement this approach, you’ll notice marked behavior differences in your students, and your discipline challenges will greatly decrease.