Teach the actor or perpetrator the meaning of a behavior choice. Follow with an explanation of consequences. Lastly, give examples of threats and intimidation that may coerce people into compliance. Do this as a preemptory measure; that is, before misbehavior happens. When disciplining, always follow this well-known witty quote: the best time to teach fire-safety rules to children is before our kitchen is on fire.
Ø A behavior choice is internally-driven; we are the decision-makers, and we are always responsible for those things we do.
Ø A consequence can be negative (we do not want or like what we get) or positive (we want or like what we get), short-term (i.e. lasting for a few minutes or a few hours) or long-term (i.e. lasting for several weeks, several months, or even years). Also, we can find more than one consequence in every behavior choice we make.
Unless we fall victim of coercion, or we are forced to act in a specific way, nobody compels us to do anything that we do not want to do. “Frankie made me do it” as an excuse for misbehaving would be valid only under such radical circumstances. The bad news for all excuse givers out there is that extreme coercion rarely happens in our lives; in most instances, it simply never happens.
Examples of Very Negative Consequences (Coercion) that Justify Misbehaving:
“If I don’t do as Frankie says…”
· I’ll be hit by lightning
· My teeth will drop off my mouth, slowly and painfully
· I’ll be chased by rabid dogs
· I’ll be thrown out of an airplane without a parachute
Unless the child can present irrevocable proof of such an extreme consequence hanging above his or her head, the perpetrator always owns the behavior, plain and simple. I like to call this disciplinary style the “You did the behavior, you own the behavior” approach. The main objective here is teaching children that, regardless of what they may feel pressured to do, they will do it, or not, because they choose to do it, or to not do it. A self-motivational quote to teach children can be: Because I choose to do my behavior, I’m responsible for my behavior. With better understanding of choices, responsibility, and consequences, we can inspire children to improve their behavior by selecting more adequate behavior choices.
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A Call to All Teachers:
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