The word discipline comes from Old French and Latin meaning to teach and to learn. It can also indicate a field of study, training that corrects molds, etc.
So discipline should be seen as a system of rules governing conduct or activity for both the caregivers and the children. So the question is, what system of rules do we employ when we use discipline … So all caregivers should be aware of what Kneehigh says its approach to discipline is …
What does the kneehigh Manual say about discipline?
- Section I: General policies and information: Maxims of Care
- Positive reinforcement: It’s better to congratulate a child for doing something well (and thus encourage her to repeat the behavior) than to wait for her to err and then punish her for doing something wrong.
- Creative Interaction: Our goal is to stop quarrels before they begin. Be on the look-out for potential trouble, and provide a variety of interesting activities at suitable intervals to keep boredom from erupting.
- Physical Affection: We all need hugs and kisses! Besides, they do a lot to encourage the positive atmosphere between adult and child that naturally leads to good behavior on the child’s part.
- Individual Attention: Children need to know that they’re special. Ignoring this need can lead to misbehavior in order to get attention, which is undesirable in any group situation.
- Firm, Quiet Discipline: Children can be guided calmly down the paths of good behavior.
- Responsibility: Even at an early age, children can begin to learn responsibility. We can teach them to pick up after themselves and to share in the general cleaning; we can teach the older ones to help take care of the younger ones. The children often seem to take pride in simple accomplishments like putting something in the trash or carrying their own plate to the kitchen.
- Section III: Procedural Guidelines: Disciplinary PolicyThroughout a child’s development, he or she will inevitably behave in ways that are not acceptable, either because they are dangerous, hurtful, or otherwise socially unacceptable. In order to help our children develop appropriate social behaviors, we guide them by the most positive means available towards good behavior.
- Redirection: By keeping the children involved in activities that they are interested in, we can often prevent situations from arising that require further intervention. Also, by ensuring that the children are adequately supervised, situations can be dissipated before they escalate.
- We can teach the children to resolve their own disputes by taking advantage of opportunities that arise in which we can guide them to peaceful cooperation. If a baby is trying to take a toy away from an older child, ask the older child to get a different toy for the baby. This helps show the child that he is entitled to hold on to the toy that he was playing with, but that he can also help the other child to accept this.
- Separation and Information: Unacceptable behavior sometimes occurs. When it does, the adult’s action should be appropriate to the age of the child and follow these guidelines: The most common behaviors requiring intervention are hitting and pushing. When this occurs, the child should first be stopped from inflicting harm to others. If one child is hitting another, stop the child non-violently. For example, you could pick up the child being hit, make sure they’re OK, and remove them from the reach of the child who hit them. This is often preferable to removing the child who is hitting, because it does not reinforce the negative behavior with special attention. Tell the child who hit, in a firm manner, that what they did is not acceptable. Refrain from judging the child (i.e. don’t ever tell a child that he or she is bad – only that their behavior is not allowed). If you know what brought about the hitting, or can find out from the kids, suggest an alternative behavior that would have been acceptable. For example, we encourage the children to use their words to tell other children to stop their offending behavior instead of hitting them. We also encourage children who are fighting over a toy to take turns or share. As soon as the incident is over, all is quickly forgiven. However, if a particular toy is repeatedly fought over, the object can be temporarily removed to prevent further problems.
- Corporal punishment and verbal abuse (including yelling/screaming) are never options. Formal time-outs and removal of privileges are also not used as disciplinary tools at Knee High. We believe that at these ages, children can only understand immediate and direct consequences of inappropriate behaviors. Food is also never used as punishment (or reward).
- Remember also that children learn primarily by example. Try to remain calm and respectful at all times, and impose any discipline consistently. The key to any long-term improvement in a child’s behavior is for the parents to be informed of problems and to participate in their solution. Informally (when the child is picked up) and formally (at meetings) we need to talk to each other about our children and how they are developing. Also keep in mind that all families are different. Use corrective discipline primarily for behaviors that are harmful to others or dangerous for the child.
The following constitutes our formal disciplinary policy:
Section IV: General Suggestions for working with the children
- State suggestions or directions in a positive, rather than a negative, form.
- Give the child a choice only when you intend to leave the choice up to the child.
- Your voice is a teaching tool. Use words and a tone of voice which will help the child feel confident and reassured.
- Avoid trying to change behavior by methods which may lead to loss of self-respect, such as shaming or labeling behavior as “naughty” or “selfish.”
- Avoid motivating a child by making comparisons between one child and another, or by encouraging competition.
- Redirect the child in a way that is related to his/her own motives or interest whenever possible.
- The effectiveness of a suggestion may depend largely on its timing.
- Avoid making models in any art medium for the children to copy.
- Give the child the minimum of help in order that s/he may have the maximum chance to grow in independence, but give the help the child needs.
- Make your suggestions effective by reinforcing them when necessary.
- Forestalling is the most effective way of handling problems. Learn to foresee and prevent rather than mop-up after a difficulty.
- When limits are necessary, they should be clearly defined and constantly maintained.
- Be alert to the total situation. Use the most strategic positions for supervising.
- The health and safety of the children are a primary concern at all times.
- Enjoy the children!
In a nutshell- kneehigh discipline involves
- Positive reinforcement- Focus on things children are doing right, rather than on negative behaviors: “good job using soft touch!”
- Redirection- distract the childs attention from the undesired behavior to something else: ” lets go in the art room and play with Playdoh!”
- Forstalling (Proactive ) – Anticipate children’s actions before they happen . You can then intervene and stop a behavior from occuring (look for warning signs that an action might be about to happen. The caregivers can strategically place themselves to intervene before an undesirable behavior occurs.
- Modeling appropriate behavior. Show children how to act by example.
- Positive phrasing. Putting comments in a positive rather than a negative phrase: say “stop” (rather than “no”, or “soft touch” “hands are for hugging” rather than “don’t hit”