Avoiding Negative Discipline

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Avoiding negative discipline
It is important to avoid criticizing, discouraging, creating obstacles and barriers, blaming,
shaming, or being sarcastic. Examples of negative discipline responses include:
• Commanding: “Go over there and sit down!”
• Forbidding: “Stop that!” “Don’t touch that!” “Don’t do it like that!”
• Criticizing: “You are going to break that”
• Belittling: “When are you going to get it right?” “When are you going to learn to do what I
say?”
• Threatening: “I will send you to the Principal’s office!” “You are going to be in so much
trouble”
• Unreasonable punishments: “You are going to stand in the corner for the whole day!” “I am
giving you detention for the whole month!”
Removing children from the group, or isolation in a time-out chair or a corner may have negative
consequences, as it can shame and embarrass the child and may encourage teasing.

Most adults occasionally do some of these things. Doing any or all of them more than regularly
means that a negative approach to discipline has become a habit and could be impacts
permanently on learners’ self-esteem and well-being.
Instead of constantly giving “don’t” commands, learn to rephrase your commands in a positive
way, while clearly stating the desired behaviour. Instead of saying, “Don’t run in the classroom,”
for example, try saying, “Walk in the classroom.” This states clearly how you want your learners
to act. Sometimes you may want to give reasons for the rule, especially when you state it for the
first time. Explaining a rule might sound like this: “Walk in the classroom. If you run, you might
trip over a chair and hurt yourself; then you might have to go to the doctor.”
Praise versus Encouragement
Many educators believe that praising learners will motivate them to behave appropriately.
However, when praise is reserved only for difficult tasks or to a few outstanding children it can
actually serve to de-motivate children. In fact, there is a key difference between praise and the
concept of encouragement; while praise focuses on actual behaviour as measures by an adult
standard of success, encouragement involves the learner and their efforts to learn.

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