Discipline is a dirty word – Deal with the misbehavior immediately

children discipline 2


After you have categorized the misbehavior, you’ll want to choose specific interventions for dealing with that type of behavior. Give these strategies a try:


  • Give “the eye” so the student knows you mean business.
  • Stand close to the student and continue your presentation.
  • Distract the student by asking a direct question or using the student’s name while continuing your presentation.
  • Give specific praise to a nearby child who is  ‘on task’.


  • Avoid direct confrontation by agreeing with the student or changing the subject.
  • Acknowledge the student’s power and state your actions: “You’re right, I can’t make you finish the math problems, but I’ll be checking the levels at the end of the day.”
  • Change the activity, do something unexpected, or initiate another class discussion on a topic of interest.
  • Use time-out by giving a choice: “You may sit quietly, keep your hands and feet to yourself, and complete the work, or you may go to time-out. You decide.”


  • Revoke a privilege.
  • Build a caring relationship by using affirmation statements that give the message: “You’re okay, but your choice of behavior is not.”
  • Require the return, repair, or replacement of damaged objects.
  • Involve school personnel or parents if necessary.

Avoidance of failure:

  • Acknowledge the difficulty of the assigned task, but remind the pupil of past successes he had doing similar tasks.
  • Modify instruction, and materials.
  • Teach the pupil to say “I can” instead of “I can’t” by recognizing achievements.
  • Provide peer tutors or ask the child to help someone else, perhaps a younger child, to help build self-confidence.

Provide some encouragement

The trouble with many discipline programmes is that they give teachers strategies for addressing misbehavior, but don not show them how to keep the misbehavior from recurring. Cooperative Discipline assumes that pupils will misbehave again if the strategies are not accompanied by encouragement techniques that build self-esteem and strengthen the child’s motivation to cooperate and learn.

Encouragement techniques are neither time-consuming nor difficult to learn. Commit to using them daily and your pupils will feel like valuable members of the classroom. Strategies for encouraging pupils fall into three categories:

Capable: Pupils need to feel capable of completing their work in a satisfactory manner. How?

  • Create an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes.
  • Build confidence by focusing on improvement and on past successes.
  • Make your learning objectives reachable for all pupils.

Connect: Pupils need to believe they can develop positive relationships with teachers and classmates. How?

  • Be accepting of all pupils, regardless of past misbehavior.
  • Give attention by listening and showing interest in their activities outside of class.
  • Show appreciation by praise or written notes.
  • Use affirmation statements that are specific and enthusiastic about a student’s good behavior or abilities.
  • Build affectionate relationships with simple acts of kindness.

Contribute: Pupils need to contribute to the welfare of the class so they feel like they make a difference. How?

  • Involve them in maintaining the learning environment by holding class meetings.
  • Ask for suggestions when decisions need to be made.
  • Use cooperative learning groups frequently.
  • Encourage peer tutoring.

Pupils feel good about themselves—and about their ability to succeed in school—when they believe they’re capable learners who can connect in positive ways with classmates and teachers. They’ll also feel good about themselves when they find ways to contribute to the class and to the school. Keep in mind that encouragement strategies not only prevent misbehavior but are being used successfully as violence and gang prevention measures.

Making partners along the way

Cooperative Discipline is a process that promotes collaboration. Building a strong partnership with pupils and parents is essential to maintain a positive discipline programme that works.

Start by creating partnerships with your pupils. One way to involve them is to get their help in developing a classroom code of conduct. They’ll be more interested in keeping and enforcing the rules because they helped develop them. Another strategy is to teach pupils about the three C’s of encouragement (capable, connect, and contribute) and help them find ways they can encourage themselves and their classmates.

Set the stage for effective parent partnerships. Have your school principal invite parents to a meeting to get their input on writing a code of conduct. When you conference with parents about a problem you are having with their child, limit your complaints to three or four misbehaviors. Discuss with parents which intervention and encouragement strategies you will be using to help their child choose more positive behavior. Send a clear message that you want parents to participate in the disciplining of their children. Reminding parents that “you cannot always do it alone” sometimes will get you the support you want and need.



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