Here are some “tricks of the trade” in language-based discipline so that teachers and parents get better results when disciplining angry and/or noncompliant children.
1. Lower Your Voice
When disciplining, reduce the tone of your voice and speak s-l-o-w-e-r. This helps you both in projecting self-confidence and in remaining calm. Louder and angrier statements, on the other hand, conceal the message beneath all the noise and harsh words that accompany them.
2. Stay in the Present
Do not dwell on past behavior, or something that happened weeks earlier. Correct only behavior that is happening here and now.
3. Own Your Message
Change “You-messages” to “I-messages.” For example, instead of saying, “You are such a potty mouth!” say, “I feel uneasy because I don’t like being cursed.”
4. Challenge the Child
When you address misbehavior, keep it simple but keep it challenging. The simplest and most challenging message that we can deliver to a child with recurrent behavior problems is, “Connect with the best in you.” Focus the child on her best qualities and in how those qualities can help in strengthening weaker performance.
5. Accentuate and Transfer Positive Behavior
Build on what the child is doing well already, concentrating in spreading out positive behavior to weaker areas of performance. Simply put, let the child know that “If you can do it here, you can do it there.”
6. Use Temporal Language
Use language that communicates your expectation that the negative behavior is going to change; it is just a matter of when (time). For example, you can say, “In the next few days, when you are no longer feeling angry about this…”
7. “Close” the Negative Behavior
Conversely, talk about negative behaviors as if they were something from a distant past, even when the behavior happened just five minutes earlier. Always talk about negative behaviors using the past tense of verbs.
8. “Open” the Child to the Possibility of Better Behavior
At the same time that you are talking about misbehavior as something from the past, use verbs in the future tense to build positive expectations and to “open” the child’s mind (to make the child receptive) to more positive expectations. Talk about how things are going to be (how the behavior is going to improve) sometimes in the future, but without specifying when. Keep “change” unstated and indefinite, so that it comes when the child feels ready for it.
9. Always Separate the Actor (Child) from the Action (Behavior)
Make sure that the child knows that although he does his behavior, he is not the behavior. Replace messages that label the child’s character (e.g. “You are selfish”) with messages that label actions (e.g., “You are acting in a selfish way.”) Simply put, label the behavior, not the student.
10. Talk About Specific Actions
Use behavior specific language, describing what you see, hear, and can touch. Steer clear from inferences, interpretations, and judgments of the behavior. You can start a discussion about a particular behavior saying something like, “Let us talk about the way you handled this situation with Kevin.”
11. Focus on the Child’s Goal, Not on Your Goal
Your messages to the child should be more about “Be the best you can be” (the child’s goal), and less about “Be the way I want you to be” (your goal).
12. Focus the Child on the Goal of Self-Discipline
Discipline is more effective and long-lasting when it comes from within (self-discipline), rather than being imposed by an external source. Help the child identify a long-term goal, breaking it down into easier and more manageable steps (short-term goals), so that the child experiences success in smaller increments. Nothing builds success like success; with the long-term goal in mind, strive for self-discipline.
13. Give Choices to the Child
Ensure that the child takes responsibility for the behavior choices she makes. The child needs to understand both that behavior is her choice and that choices have consequences; and these consequences can be either positive or negative. Once the child understands behavior as a choice, you can start building a lesson for life: “Because I am the one responsible for the choices I make, I’m the only person responsible for the things I do.”
THE HEART OF DISCIPLINING- FOR PARENTS:
Understanding and Delivering Feedback, Criticism, and Corrections that Teach Positive Behavior
To preview this book on Amazon, click here.
A Call to All Teachers:
Proudly announcing our new group for educators worldwide, “We Teach the World.” Our aim is to connect teachers and related school personnel all over the world, so that we can share much-needed ideas, strategies, and lesson plans as well as all kinds of resources in classroom management and in student discipline. Coordinating our effort worldwide, we can tell each other where to find important resources and information. If you administer a teaching blog or have created educational resources to facilitate our job, you are welcome to share them here. As long as they contribute to education, we want to know of your business. Teachers with questions, post them here; mentors and seasoned teachers, your valuable experience and unique perspective matter to us, so make your voices heard. Because isolated, we teachers are imaginative, resourceful and resilient, but connected, connected we are imaginative, resourceful, resilient AND powerful. To join us, click on, “We Teach the World.”