The discipline tools you already have — you just don’t
know it yet…
You were gung-ho to instruct children in the things of God!
Chances are, though, after a few classes your gung-ho was
gung-gone and you were in search of a crash course in classroom
management — a discipline boot camp, a cure-all book, or the Ronco
3-in-1 discipline machine. Are there such things?
Not exactly, but the truth is you don’t need any crash course as
much as you just need to take a good look inside. You already have
discipline tools at your fingertips — you just may not know it
yet. These tools require no props, no equipment, and no preparation
(just a little practice). By using what you already have, you’ll be
more effective at classroom management and you’ll truly
Enthusiasm as a discipline tool? You bet! As the class leader,
you set the tone. How do you think kids respond when you aren’t
excited about what you’re teaching? Of course they won’t be excited
either. Why should they be? But your enthusiasm is contagious, and
it can be a deterrent to misbehavior right from the start and
curtail distractions if they creep in.
For example…A boy gets a little restless in class and starts
to misbehave. As you notice this, you initiate a change of activity
with an extra dose of enthusiasm. Thus you redirect and reignite
the child’s interest in what’s happening. Discipline takes place
without any confrontation, and that leads to instruction.
Natural consequences can bring kids into step real fast. A
natural consequence makes sense; it’s logical and connected to the
misbehavior. If a child spills something by running in class, the
natural consequence is the child cleans it up. An unnatural
consequence would be that the child has to stand in the hall —
it’s not connected to the offense. If two children would rather
talk than pay attention, separate them for the rest of the class.
(Only don’t allow the natural consequence to last longer than one
class; that would be unnatural and unfair.)
For example…You’ve let everyone know that the class can have
extra game time only when the lesson is complete, but Mary doesn’t
keep this in mind. Getting a privilege is a natural consequence of
using time wisely, and using time unwisely results in a lost
privilege. By the way, a quick reminder to the class in general
will usually lead to other kids reminding Mary of what she might be
costing the class.
As the sermon begins, you lean over to make a comment to your
friend. Just as you begin to speak, the noise stops, and you make
your comment to…everyone! You’ve had it happen before, haven’t
you? And how did you feel? Slightly embarrassed? A little silly?
Silence seems to highlight activity that really isn’t appropriate
for the time, doesn’t it?
Now, embarrassing a child isn’t our goal, but simply being
silent can go a long way toward bringing kids back into line.
Sometimes when I teach kids (which I try to do with a lot of
enthusiasm), I simply stop talking. Kids realize something isn’t
right, and they pay special attention — even the ones who haven’t
been paying attention. When they all focus on what they should be
focused on, I simply begin instructing again.
For example… last Wednesday when I saw a boy trying to hide a
handful of candy, I walked over and privately asked him what he had
in his hand. Then I patiently waited. He looked at me and said,
“Nothing,” to which I simply smiled and kept silent. As he thought
about what was going on and realized I wasn’t going to accept that
answer, he finally told me he had “borrowed” the candy from a room
he wasn’t supposed to be in. I asked if he believed that was his
candy to take, and he answered, “I don’t know.” Again, silence. He
did know, and I wanted to give him a chance to think about what he
was telling me. After a minute or two, he simply held out the candy
for me to take and said, “No…and I’m sorry.” A quick high-five
and a reassuring “Jesus is smiling because you did the right
thing,” and we were on our way. Silence can be used to instruct