DISCIPLINE AND BEHAVIOR
The word discipline is inappropriate when applied to young children as it often entails the notion of punishment. We are interested in self-control rather than outside control. If you think about it, no one can actually control another person, nor should we want to.
Our goal is to accept the OTHERNESS of the child. That means we accept that our job is not to manage the child, but to allow the child to work through the slow process of developing self-control. This involves a certain amount of faith in the child, allowing him or her to experience and work through conflict, tolerating that conflict in ourselves and helping him or her to work towards resolution.
No child wants to be bad. Every child wants to fulfill his or her own needs for acceptance and self expression. Once we realize that, we can guide a child towards socially acceptable behavior through positive reinforcement.
We may need to guide the child towards recognizing that he or she is acting out feelings of anger, anxiety, fear, etc. on others, and we provide words for these feelings so they can be communicated rather than acted. We call this strategy ‘constructive communication.’
We also may need to direct the child’s attention to the consequences of behavior which may hurt others or the self. Rather than imposing a punishment, we will allow a child to experience the consequences of his or her actions, for instance, if you rip a book you will have to tape it up and that might take away from your play time.
We want the child to have a voice, and to take responsibility for the classroom. He will have a role and be in charge of the things we use, the routines and the setup, so that his choices matter. This sense of responsibility makes a child unlikely to do things to undermine the well being of the class and his friends.
We are not interested in creating shame, but in developing a sense of awareness that a child does have an impact on others and his or her behavior matters.