Discipline is not a punishment
Discipline is about learning how to recognize our desires and feelings and act on them appropriately within the boundaries or limits of society and our surroundings.
Halsey Schools’ approach to discipline teaches your child how to become emotionally and socially responsible by learning self-discipline. Disciplined children learn to respect adults, authority, and the needs and desires of others. They learn how to postpone pleasure or immediate gratification, how to be assertive without being aggressive and to tolerate discomfort when necessary. Discipline starts when your child is born and never ends.
At Halsey Schools we use a positive and proactive approach to discipline.
- We provide safe age appropriate environments for your child.
- We lead by example. Preschoolers love to imitate adults. Teach them the behaviors you want them to imitate and they will copy you.
- We are active listeners. If your child wants to tell us how he feels about his friend taking his toy, we listen and do not cut him off. We listen and work together to come up with a solution through conversation. We acknowledge your child’s feelings and help him make the right choice on what to do.
- We set reasonable and consistent limits. For example, we don’t expect a toddler to be able to sit for more than 5 minutes.
- We understand and accept age-appropriate behavior. Certain behaviors happen simply due to the child’s lack of understanding, interest in exploration or lack of motor-skills. Knocking over food or spilling a glass of milk is normal behavior for a toddler.
- We establish reasonable consequences, knowing consequences do not have to be punitive. They include praise, recognition, distraction & redirection.
- We give your child limited choices. It puts him in control to some degree. We say “Do you want to paint or play in the dress-up center?”
- We give warnings before moving on to another activity. We say “Three more turns on the bike it’s lunch time.”
- We sing songs to transition between activities and encourage cooperation. We sing “Cleanup. Cleanup. Everybody everywhere. Cleanup. Cleanup. Everybody do your share.”
- We use our words carefully. When possible we tell children what to do instead of what not to do. We say “Please keep your feet on the floor.” Instead of saying “Stop yelling!” We say “Inside voices please.”
- We offer reasons why. We say “We don’t call people names because it makes them sad.” Or “Please talk quietly. Yelling hurts my ears.”
- We know that every child is different and adjust our expectations accordingly taking personal temperament and personality into consideration.
- We minimize negative consequences and only use as a last resort.
We Praise & Recognize Appropriate Behavior
It may not seem like discipline at first, but calling attention to appropriate behavior is probably the most important element in discipline. It helps reinforce our expectations and makes your child feel good. Your child will soon realize that the best way to get attention is not to do something wrong but to do something right.
- We anticipate inappropriate behavior situations and minimize or eliminate them. Often children behave inappropriately because they are tired, hungry or crashing from a sugar high. Certain behaviors happen simply due to the child’s lack of understanding, interest in exploration or lack of motor-skills. We anticipate those incidences and create a plan to prevent them.
- We establish routines so children know what to do next – circle time, playground time, lunch time, nap time…
- Some children need to have more free time than other. Some need more structure. We adjust to help your child get the most out of our program.
- We know that children have short attentions spans and we don’t expect too much from them. We know their limits.
- We ignore behaviors that really don’t matter like jumping up and down or fidgeting and temper tantrums. If we were to call attention to the behavior or negotiate your child out of it, they’ll go on forever.
- We actively ignore behaviors by saying something like “If you want to yell, please do that outside with the other class.”
- We allow safe natural consequences to run their course.
- Praise & recognize positive behavior.
- We say “Thank you for putting away your toys.”
- We smile and nod.
- We give a hug or a pat on the back.
- We say “I see Michael sitting nicely.”
- We ask “How does it make you feel to know you did it?”
- We use material rewards with caution. If they are used too much children won’t behave without them and can lead to negotiations and bargaining for more.
- We distract or redirect your child into a new activity before problems arise.
- Distraction is used to divert your child’s attention to something else. We may start singing a song, doing jumping jacks, making a silly face… We may start a new activity: reading, play-dough, walking, running… We may just move on to something else and ignore the behavior.
- Redirection is used to teach your child a different way to do something. The inappropriate behavior is pointed out and an alternative is given. If your child is throwing books we say “Books are for reading. Balls are for throwing. Let’s play catch with this ball.”
- We enforce a logical consequence. If your child is throwing blocks we might say “Looks like we need to put the blocks away until you are ready to use them correctly.”
- We offer limited choices. If children are fighting over a toy we might say “Would you like to sit on my lap until Sally’s turn is over or would you like to play with the blocks until it is your turn?”
- We avoid nagging and making threats we don’t mean or won’t enforce. Doing so may actually encourage the undesired behavior.
We don’t Use Punitive Time-Outs
We do not use traditional time-outs at all for any age group.
We use Quiet-Time (Positive Time-Out)
We use quiet-time minimally as a last resort and only with children 20 months or older.
Unlike a traditional time-out, quiet-time is more of a helping hand than a punishment. It’s simply a cooling off period with no activities. We either calmly take the child to the quiet-time area or ask the child to go there. (The quiet-time area could be a chair, a carpet, a teacher’s lap…) We might say something like “Biting is not o.k. Please take some quiet-time.” Or “It seems like you are getting angry. Come take a break with me.”
- are short; one minute for each year of child’s age and are used on children 20 months or older. Any younger and they just do not understand.
- take place where we can still see the child
- are ended by the teacher, not the child
- are never in a corner facing the wall
- are never used to humiliate
- are never longer than 5 minutes
A quiet-time gives your child a few minutes to settle down and think about what has happened. We end the quiet-time by briefly talking with the child about the misbehavior.
- We explain what happened, what should not have been done and what should have been done instead. Your child will be given the opportunity to practice the correct behavior. We might say, “It’s not OK to hit your friend. Instead you need to use you words. Next time tell Sally it’s your turn to ride the bike.”
- We ask your child to think about how the behavior made other people feel and discuss. We might ask “How do you think that made Sally feel?”
- We encourage your child to apologize.
By using quiet-time we encourage your child to develop positive beliefs about herself, her world, and her behavior. She’ll learn from her mistakes. She’ll learn how to calm herself down. How to apologize and how to solve problems on her own. She’ll learn self-discipline.
We use consequences like losing privileges, activities, or toys minimally as a last resort.
There are basically two types of consequences we use. Ones that are linked directly to the behavior and ones that have no connection and are meant to be punitive.
- Directly linked consequence
- If a child were to throw a block at another child, we might say “Looks like you don’t remember that we do not throw blocks, please put the blocks away. Tomorrow we’ll see if you can use them correctly.”
- Punitive Consequence
- Some behaviors that continue despite using all of the above may be helped by taking a privilege away. We might tell a child “Since you hit again, you won’t be able to go on the field trip.” Then briefly discuss hitting and what to do instead.
- Sometimes we’ll let the child participate either in advance or at the time of the misbehavior what the consequence is. We might say “Since you hit your friend again instead of using your words do you think you should miss out on music time or game time?”
We apply rules, expectations and consequences consistently
- We give consequences as soon as possible. We do not punish later. (However sometimes loss of privileges does occur a bit later.)
- We do not enter into arguments with children during the correction process.
- We make the consequences brief.
- We say what we mean and say it without yelling. When possible we squat down and say it face to face at eye level.
- We make sure your child understands that the correction is directed at the behavior not the child. There is no such thing as a ‘bad’ child. The behavior is inappropriate. Say “No hitting.” Or “Hitting is not o.k.” Or “Please keep your hands to yourself.” Not “You are bad because you hit.” Or “You are mean.”
- We don’t argue or negotiate.
- We don’t humiliate, threaten or hit under any circumstances.
- We follow consequences with love and trust. And always forgive.
- We avoid bringing up past mistakes.
The purpose of Halsey Schools’ discipline is to teach, not to punish. We use discipline to make your child feel better not worse. It takes a lot of effort, time, patience and love and it’s worth it. Our students learn to make good choices, be empathetic and become self-disciplined.
In very rare incidences, if we do not feel we are the best fit for a family or child, we may suggest alternative care be pursued.
All teachers are trained to follow these procedures and sign our Discipline Agreement to assure consistent and proper implementation.