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By Kari Jensen

Helping without hurting – discipline as a life tool

Studies in the US and in Japan have shown conclusively that the use of corporal punishment in the home as a method of discipline leads to increased aggression and disruptive behavior. When a model based on positive reinforcement was used, the children were able to develop a greater sense of self-reliance. Discipline at home is used more as a habit guide until the child can manage themselves, mostly through consistent schedules of daily tasks gradually increasing in complexity. This assists their independent decision-making ability and sense of responsibility, as well as developing a stronger sense of community by participating in the daily rhythm of their family’s activities.

Positive discipline tactics are effective for parents and schools to use to teach autonomy.

Authoritarian modes of discipline can impair the development of a child’s’ autonomy and the ability to think and learn independently. Children who have been taught how to behave with others seldom require discipline, either at home or at school. Children who have not had early positive discipline in the home tend to have a harder time in school environments, where a measure of self-control is expected of them. Disruptive children make it harder to teach, harder to learn, and no child is able to do as well in a class without some order.

The kids who disrupt classes set the rules for the schools.

Parents need to be held accountable for their children’s behavior outside the home as well as within. The disruptive children can and sometimes do present safety risks to others and to themselves. The present legal environment undermines order in schools and leads to schools being unable to address behavior problems in chronically disruptive students, for fear of lawsuits. Zero tolerance policies for disruptive behavior at schools has proved ineffective for solving the problem. There is a movement in US schools to hold the parents more accountable for their children’s behavior, designed to discourage frivolous lawsuits against schools. The proposition currently supported is that parents who sue over disciplinary issues should receive no monetary reward, in order to reduce the incentive to sue.

Let the punishment fit the crime.

Recognize different learning styles and challenges. The disruptive child may have something else going on beside an attitude problem. Early assessment is optimal, but if there are persistent issues recurring, then the school’s nurse or counselor might be able to help with the assessment. Understand that violence upon children can manifest in many ways, whether it comes from the home or elsewhere. Recognize abuse, and get help with that.

Kids who have learned self-discipline at home do better in schools and in adult life.
Positive discipline tactics are effective for parents and schools to use to teach self-reliance and confidence. Styles of discipline vary widely from family to family, but here are some ideas to consider in implementing a positive discipline program at school or at home.

  • Focus on the behavior, not the child
  • Develop rules and expectations clearly and in advance
  • Good words for good deeds
  • Be calm and consistent
  • Walk the talk; behave the way you expect them to behave
  • Respond to problems immediately, and never with violence

A safe, orderly school environment is important to both parents and schools, and quality education is impossible without constructive discipline from both. It has to start at home and early to be effective for the child to understand by the time they reach school age. Schools are great places for learning, but not for parenting. Positive discipline at home will inevitably result in a better school environment, and a more functional adulthood later.

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