Discipline…..behaviour….positive reinforcement…..


I have been thinking a lot about discipline and wanted to ask you for suggestions.  If you work with 2-6 year old’s what do you do in your classroom when a child displays “unfavorable behavior”?  Hmm, even that description is so tricky isn’t it!

How about I start by telling you what I do, and for what behaviors.

We have a very simple 1 warning, and then 1 time out.  For the warning I always come close to the child and calmly explain what they did and why it is not okay.  I then explain that this is their warning and if the behavior happens again they will need time out.  Time out is in a spot in the room where the child is slightly distanced from the other children.   If the child needs time out I will ask them to come with me to the spot (they nearly always walk there independently).  I crouch in front of them and calmly explain again what they did and that they are in time out for one minute.  After one minute I return and again explain what they did, or ask them to tell me.  They say they are sorry and give a hug to either me or the child they hurt if that is the case.  They then return to their playing.

The ‘system’ is the same.  Always!  I feel that this really helps the children and myself.  There is no judgement and I do not need to get emotional about it.  It seems fair and the children seem comfortable with it.

When do we need warnings or time out?  For hurting someone or something, not listening to others, behaving in an unsafe way (such as running inside – we had a head injury a while ago and I don’t want a repeat of that!).

But why do I feel I need to try something else?  Well, I can’t really pinpoint why I guess, it is just that it feels so dictatorial!  In all other aspects of the school I encourage the children to think independently and be responsible for their thoughts and actions.  Maybe it is that they are getting older and more mature and I feel that I am starting be able to really talk with them on a different level.

Anyway, I have been reading and talking to other teachers about what works for their students.  I have seen little UN meetings in classes.  I have seen class rules being written.  I have seen contemplation corners, chill out zones other similarly named areas for quiet time.  But I can’t really decide how to proceed. How can I truly enable my students to be more responsible for their actions, whilst also maintaining peace and safety?

So, over to you.  Please share what you do in your classroom, or other ideas you have heard about………


5 responses »

  1. I think it depends on the situation. Although it doesn’t work for everything, I like to “practice” with children who have difficulty with their responsibilities. For example, if a child is habitually late to morning meeting because he doesn’t start cleaning up until the last minute, then together we practice getting to the rug as I count down to “help his brain learn.” We do this several times, and then usually the next time children have to come to the rug, s/he looks at me right away, smiles, and we share a funny little moment.

  2. I struggle with this daily as every EC book I read says that time-outs are not allowed. Today, however, I found myself counting to 3 to a little girl who ran away from the lunch table to hid under our climber, refusing to clean up her plate. I told her she must clean up her plate or sit time out. Once I got to 3, she refused to clean up and off to time out we went. After 1 minute I asked if she was ready and she screamed no so she sat again for another minute. At that time she was ready. My books say to reason with her and empathize with her about her feelings until she is ready…could take 10-30 minutes or so to do this. I admit I took the easy route. It is hard when you know you have child who enjoys the thrill of “No” and the conflict. I must remember that patience is a virtue!

  3. Thanks Amy for your honesty. I certainly strive to be a certain way….but am human and have many things pulling me in different directions at school. It is sometimes hard to keep that patience isn’t it!

  4. Patience takes practice and dedication. I think the key to strong discipline is consistency. You must send a clear message to children of any age of what is expected of them and with repetition and time it will become an understanding. I find I lose my patience most when I am in a rush. I have learned to stop and take a deep breath, just as I teach my children 2 and 4 to do. It works to collect my thoughts and also models the behavior for my sons.

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