Rethinking discipline and classroom management

I don’t know about you but I was raised with the philosophy of spare the rod spoil the child. I’m pretty sure i’m not the only one. This philosophy shaped how I was raised, how I worked in my classroom and how I ultimately started parenting. But then came that proverbial moment when my 1st born was old enough to misbehave and everything I thought I knew had to be reevaluated.

Now please don’t get me wrong I am not saying how I grew up was wrong but since having children I have done a lot of rethinking about what discipline and management is.

I’ve talked about our struggles with my oldest before she is not the easiest child to work with but she has talk me so much in the process. So I thought i’d share some thoughts here:

1) learning about self reg.

Before learning about self reg I saw my childs tantrums just as that tantrums. I saw acting out as acting out. Even in the classroom I was why are they doing this don’t they know better. Now, it is easier to see those moments as a cry for help. Kids (K-12) act out for a reason. They are trying to communicate to the best of their ablities that they have been wronged or are stress. It isn’t on purpose, it isn’t to make your life miserable they just need help. Now is how they are doing it correct…not really but that is after discussion.

Self reg has also taught me that there really isn’t any reason to talk rationally to a child under stress until they are calm and centered. Their brain just cannot process the information. So step one is to identify they are stressed, step two calm, step 3 then talk. It is here in this talk you can discuss actions and discipline but not until they are back to rational thinking. Step 4 is figuring out stressors before they happen.

2. Punishment/discipline and anything else you want to lump in here

I was spanked as a kid. I was spanked often as a kid. I was spanked hard as a kid. I dont say this as a badge or a confirmation that it works but as a I know that it really doesnt work. Oh I did stop the behaviour but more out of I didn’t want to brake a spoon over my butt again. I’m sure that we all can relate to this story. But you see this is all I knew so what happens as a parent is this is what we revert too. It is in our tool box but it just doesn’t work to our desired outcomes. Personally, I have found that it continues the behaviour until a) you are so frustrated with the child you loose your marbles or b) the kid runs away and hates you forever. There is a c but that is a behaviour only stops because they dont want to be hit again. In all three cases the desire outcome of punishment isn’t really met.

We punish because we don’t want our children to repeat the behaviour, right? We want them to learn? But how is the above doing that?

Now please dont get me wrong there should be consequences for bad decisions.

What I have found is once a child is able to center and think again it is easier to talk and discuss the actions. My daughter has consequences. At first it felt like this wasn’t going to work but it has. Now she has less blow ups and actually understands why she is having them. She gets the reason why discipline needs to happen.

3) if a child doesn’t want to change nothing will change them

This has been the hardest part for me to learn. When I first started teaching I said I’m the boss and kids will lisyen to me. I was strict, I laid the law down amd guess what I still do but a lot different. My kids don’t follow the rules cause I said thou shalt they follow it because they have been involved and want to. Kids want to be in class because they feel a part of it. This has been the key to my management lately. My kids still know where the line is but they made it.

Now how does this come back to school. Today I saw next to a tardy list if a child gets 15 lates they are removed from all extra curriculars and teams. Now again I get discipline and why that statement is needed but then again i question this why is the child late? Does this take into consideration of home? Maybe they hate your class? Maybe they dont like you? These are all questions to think about before a punishment can be handed down. We also have to think about one other thing. Often our school clubs, teams, free choice periods are the only thing keeping our kids in school. They are one thing they look forward too, so in taking them away what are we doing to that child?

These are just some random thoughts but for me I understand that classroom management is needed…I know kids and adults need to understand right from wrong but we also need to consider the child and ultimately the reason for the negative behaviour. Lets focus less on the behaviour and more on the reasons and ultimately stopping it from happening.

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