8 Building Blocks for Effective Discipline


Here’s a step-by-step plan to turn a negative classroom into a positive place where children want to be.

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Megan won’t leave Suzie alone, so the teacher separates them. Joey and Travis don’t want Jason to play with them, so the teacher makes them all play together. Sarah talks incessantly, so she’s sent to timeout for five minutes.

Sound familiar? In every class, there are discipline problems. In this class, the teacher thought she was using the best discipline techniques. But child psychologists say she wasn’t.

According to Jane Nelsen, Lynn Lott, and H. Stephen Glenn, authors of Positive Discipline in the Classroom, classroom discipline should be internal discipline that’s based on children disciplining themselves. This kind of discipline turns a negative classroom into a positive place where children want to be.

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You can use discipline that nurtures children’s respect for themselves and others by making a paradigm shift. First, you must determine who you want to be in control of behavior—the child or you? If you’re in control, you’ll need to regulate a child’s behavior through rewards and punishments. But these authors say kids can’t learn self-discipline if teachers use external controls.

“Emphasizing stickers, food, or threats makes the teacher responsible, not the kids,” say Nelsen, Lott, and Glenn. “It’s the teacher’s responsibility to catch students being good and reward them, or catch them being bad and punish them. But what happens when the teacher isn’t around?”

Once a teacher decides to help children take responsibility for their actions and behavior, true learning and character development will occur in the classroom.

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