Discipline is a topic, which is involved in all contexts of human life and is highly important to ensure a working society. Children learn discipline from their parents, from friends as well as at school. In the school context, it is very important that a child knows exactly what everybody expects, which different rules they have to follow and what consequences will come along when they break these rules.
We as a school need to ensure that our learners learn a certain discipline and behaviour structure and that the whole teaching and therapy team follows the known procedure. If everybody sticks to these rules, it helps the learner to be orientated and to improve their discipline. The teaching and therapy team has to be a role model to show the learner a specific behaviour, such as respect, trust or reliability. Especially for remedial learners, it is imperative that they experience the above-mentioned aspects in their home environment as well.
At Sparrow, we follow a specific discipline structure to help the child settle in the school context and learn in the best possible environment. Rules like no bullying, respect each other and each other’s things are basic rules. If a learner does not stick to these agreements there will be disciplinary consequences. It is important that we follow a certain routine and the consequences are followed through. Learners respond most successfully when they experience strict rules at home too.
To improve the disciplinary routine at home it might be helpful to introduce the following steps at home:
- Reinforce your child positively. That means if your child does something good or behaved very well when he/she normally does not reinforce with positive consequences.
- Develop a reward system. You know your child best to find the right reward. It might be an hour of some mommy time, a chocolate or stickers. Create the system together with your child and remind them from time to time, it helps them to stick to it.
- If your child misbehaves follow a warning system. Give out two warnings, if the child does not react and you have to give the third warning, give a consequence. It is important to follow this consequence through. Consequences might be more responsibilities/chores like washing the dishes, cleaning the living room etc. or take away a positive thing e.g. watching TV.
- Give you and your child a “time out” if necessary. Sometimes a situation gets overwhelming, and it helps everybody to calm down.
- Specify between levels of severity. Not every behaviour or reaction should get rewarded or punished the same. Find different consequences for different levels of behaviour.
- Give your child a say. Children have something to say as well and it is important to let them participate. They have to stick to these rules and consequences. It makes it easier for them if they were part of the creation.
These aspects are just some ideas of how you as a parent can improve discipline at home. It might be successful for your child to combine some of these ideas. Play with them and find your way. After all, it is important to try and to be patient, it is definitely worth it.
Words by Judith Zacharias, German volunteer Social Worker at the Sparrow Foundation School.