Tudorka Tots
How do they do it: Positive classroom behavior

Happy Monday, everyone! As promised, here are some tips and tricks used at Tudorka Tots to help guide children toward positive behaviors.

Maybe you’ll find something to help your week run a bit more smoothly!

‘Til next time!

Tudorka Tots Classrooms Discipline Secrets

Have you noticed how kids behave differently at school than at home? As an early education program, one of the most common questions we hear from parents is about how we get the children to behave. Here are the discipline techniques we have learned that work at both school and home.

#1: Effective Discipline Is Not about Punishment

Discipline comes from the Latin word ” disciplinare,” which means, “to teach.” Discipline that actually works is never about punishment. Discipline is simply a way to guide and manage a child’s behavior.

Discipline is based on the quality of a child’s relationship with the care provider (a teacher in the classroom, and mom and dad at home). When a child receives consistent response from a caring adult, trust, deep attachment and a sense of being wanted develops. This forms the foundation of good behavior and effective discipline.

The key is to ensure that these relationships are respectful, responsive and reciprocal.

Reciprocal: meaning, it’s OK for your child to negotiate. We always let our kids negotiate on small things.

As teachers, we understand that establishing a daily routine and frequent communication is vital to developing respectful and meaningful relationships, which directly affects behavior and a child’s ability to learn.

For instance, as children arrive into our classroom, we always make sure to greet them at the door, just as they greet us. We are never “busy” planning curriculum, checking attendance or talking at drop off and pick up times. To take no notice of a child left in our care would send a message that “you’re not worth my time,” which begins a cycle of mistrust.

#2: Give Specific Positive Reinforcement

You’ve probably heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: positive reinforcement is key. It can come in many ways: smiling, sharing a high five and giving effective praise.

But you shouldn’t just spout insincere praise without thought. In the classroom, we have noticed that effective praise is selective, specific, encouraging and positive. It avoids comparisons and competition. It compares a child’s progress with his/her past performance rather than with other children and it’s delivered in a caring, natural tone of voice.

At home this translates to making sure we stay away from comparisons between siblings, calling names or using labels, and copping out using standby phrases like “good job.”

Positive reinforcement can also be tangible, such as small rewards like stickers or prizes. These are perhaps best used sparingly and for a short amount of time.

We try to avoid using blanket phrases like “good job,” or “good girl/boy” and be specific about the action or observed good behavior.

The most effective of all techniques though is to catch children being good or in an act of kindness. The reward and acknowledgement will be more genuine than if your child runs up to you and exclaims he cleaned his room or shared his cookie with his baby sister.

#3: Model the Right Behavior

In addition to offering positive reinforcement, modeling appropriate behavior is equally important. Be mindful of what you say and how you say it—not just when you are talking to your child, but when dealing with others as well.

Modeling provides visual clues to what acceptable behavior is and indirectly reinforces the appropriate way to act.

#4: Provide Direct Guidance and Explain Your Reasoning

When you guide your kids, always be direct. Give reasons and explanations for rules (keep it simple for young children).

And always, make sure your directions and requests state what to do, as opposed to what not to do.

For instance, in our classroom, we focus on reminding children to “walk their feet” and explain how walking keeps them from getting hurt, instead of saying “don’t run.” It can help to drive the notion home if you retell a story of when your child was running and got hurt.

#5: Prevent Bad Behavior Before It Happens and Seek Out Support

This kind of “discipline” in our opinion is what will preserve your sanity.

Prevention not only is a great form of discipline, but also supports self-help skills and builds self-esteem.

An important aspect of prevention is planning. Don’t go grocery shopping with your toddler during a time he normally rests. Do not abruptly interrupt play (or other activities) and expect your child to cooperatively and quickly get ready to leave so you can try to be on time for your appointment. Your lack of planning and foresight will only confuse them about their own behavior.

Also, be proactive. If there are specific shows or channels you don’t want your child watching, set parental codes on your TV. The same can be done on computers and mobile devices

Being proactive prevents most arguments and negotiations, allowing you to spend more quality time with your child, instead of putting out fires all day long. Here are a few more tips to embrace the prevention attitude:

  • Avoid speaking to your child from across the room or the playground—it’s easy for them to not hear you or ignore you, and that can result in unnecessary issues.
  • Give children as much notice as possible when changing activities, leaving the house, or a change in the schedule. At school, five minutes before we need children to start cleaning up to transition to the next activity, we tell them that “in five minutes we’ll start cleaning up so we can do music time.” Similarly at home, before heading out to pick up older kids from school, tell younger ones that “in five minutes you need to put away the crayons and we’re going to get your sister and brother.”
  • Young children are concrete, literal thinkers and the concept of time is way too abstract for them to grasp. Try setting a timer or pointing to where the minute hand on the clock will be at clean-up time. Alternatively ,you can completely avoid time and use a different format that they can grasp—for instance, if you were leaving the park you might say, “Two more times down the slide and then we are leaving.”
  • Sometimes, you just need to walk away and let another adult handle the situation to prevent it from escalating

#6: When All Else Fails, Use “Time-ins”

“Time-ins” are helpful for children school aged and younger. Time-ins are similar to a “time out” in the sense they both remove the child from a situation that’s causing them distress or harm. However, instead of sitting students down at an empty table alone, feeling bad about themselves, we created several spaces in our classroom where a child could go when feelings became so overwhelming they were interfering with the problem-solving process.

When the time is up we ask the child if he knows why he had to be separated from the group, then we help him think of better ways he could have solved the problem instead. Taking the time to be alone and participate in a quiet activity allows the children to calm down without feeling guilty or punished. It de-escalates the situation.

So there you have it: classroom discipline secrets that are as effective at home. The above methods and examples help meet a child’s basic needs, provide opportunities for learning and development, and improve competence and confidence.