At the Center, we understand discipline to mean helping children to learn acceptable behavior. We believe that children begin to learn self-discipline, or how to guide their own behavior, when they are treated with respect. We do not use the same discipline techniques in every situation, for we recognize that each child and each situation is unique. Still, all staff members at the Center recognize and follow certain general discipline techniques, as endorsed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children:
- Setting clear, consistent, and fair guidelines for classroom behavior, and remind children of these guidelines when necessary.
- Listening carefully to what children have to say about their feelings.
- Regarding mistakes as opportunities for learning.
- Helping children to develop the skills to solve their own conflicts.
- Modeling appropriate and respectful treatment of people and materials.
- Redirecting children to a more acceptable behavior or activity.
In the case of inappropriate behavior, a staff member would first try to determine what happened, and then use his or her professional judgment to decide how best to handle the situation. Children are encouraged to talk about what is bothering them, and staff members try to involve children in resolving conflicts. Staff members also try to help the children to see each other’s point of view, which is a first step in developing empathy, an important prosocial behavior.
The Center does not use a “time out” chair or area. On occasion, a child may be redirected away from a group or activity, but this is not used as a punishment. Instead, an attempt is made to change the situation that is leading to inappropriate behavior.
Techniques that are not used at the Center under any circumstances are hitting, yelling, criticizing, threatening, making hurtful or sarcastic comments, withholding food from a child during snack or lunch time, or denying a child outdoor time.