When most people think about discipline, they usually think about what to do after their child disobeys. Should they use time-out, loss of privilege, early bedtime, or what? But good discipline isn't just about punishment. Truly good discipline focuses on training the right behavior in the first place, before your child disobeys.
I finally figured this out after my third year of teaching. As a beginning teacher, I would just go through the day and handle behavior problems as they came up. The problem was, however, they came up all day long. I would waste a lot of time each day dealing with misbehavior. Then, I learned the secret of training!
I learned that if I would spend the time at the beginning of the school year training my students in the correct behavior, I could avoid the vast majority of behavior problems! I did this through Training Sessions.
During these Training Sessions, I would instruct my students exactly what they should and should not do. I was very specific. I also told them the exact consequence for breaking the rules. Then we practiced and practiced the correct behavior so many times it just became ingrained in their heads.
I trained my students how to line up, walk down the hall, and behave in the bathroom. I trained them how I expected them to sharpen their pencils, pass out papers, and clean up at the end of the day. I trained them in every detail of the school day. The result? I had an incredibly well-behaved, well-managed classroom. No more wasting time each day dealing with disciplinary problems. My students had practiced the correct behavior so many times, it had just become habit.
Parents can apply this same principal at home. You can train your child how you expect them to act in every situation. You do it through Training Sessions.
These Training Sessions are just a time when you instruct, demonstrate, and have your child practice the correct behavior over and over. You also clearly state the consequence for wrong behavior.
You can have Training Sessions for any particular behavior you want to correct. You can have training sessions for mealtime, bedtime, clean-up time, shopping, and general obedience.
While it’s ideal to train before the bad behavior begins, you can also train your child to undo his bad habits. It just may take a little longer.
The first rule of a Training Session is to schedule it at a neutral time, not when the poor behavior is taking place. Plan the Training Session when you have plenty of time, and both you and your child are well rested and in a good mood. So if you’re training for bedtime clean-up, have the Training Session in the morning.
Then, make the Training Session fun. Basically, a Training Session is role playing and pretending. You’re acting out the good behavior and kids love to do this. They'll want to practice how to behave over and over again.
Training Sessions don’t have to be long. In fact, if you’re training young children, make them short! But do remind them of the correct behavior frequently.
There are 8 parts to a Training Session:
Give specific instructions with demonstration.
Inform your children of the exact consequence they will receive for not performing the correct behavior.
Ask lots of questions to make sure the correct behavior is understood.
Practice the correct behavior over and over.
Praise the correct behavior.
Supervise and inspect to make sure the right behavior is carried out.
Enforce any consequence incurred.
Review the rules often.
The point is, if you spend the initial time it takes in training your children in the proper behavior, soon the correct behavior will just become habit.