Positive Discipline: Is possible!

Jonnadel Sayco-Patonona

One of the most important roles of a teacher is to teach children all they need to learn in order to succeed in life. However, some teachers neglect to think about the impact that they will leave on their student’s life in the future. They tend to focus on short term goals – read this, memorize that, do your home works, stop talking and answer me now. Unknowingly these short-term situations cause stress and frustration. And the way teachers react to this stress like yelling, humiliating and hitting often interferes with their long-term goals. Teachers who react this way will lose an opportunity to strengthen their student’s interest and motivation to learning.

A teacher’s long-term goal should include making their students confident, kind, responsible and non-violent people. Yelling, humiliating and hitting will however teach them the opposite. Handling short-term stress in a way that will help teachers achieve these goals however is truly a big challenge.

How does a teacher turn these short-term challenges into opportunities then? One way is by using “Positive Discipline”.

Positive discipline is a long-term solution that helps develop student’s own self-discipline and life-long learning. By long-term it means that it cannot be done in one day, one month or one year. Long-term means as long as the student develop and learn what needs to be developed and learned. It is an approach that can be used in teaching to help students succeed in life.

Child rights are the foundation of positive discipline; thus, it respects children’s right to healthy development, protection from violence, and active participation in learning.

So how does a teacher practice positive discipline? Does one have to be permissive? Does one let students do what they want to do? Does one eliminate rules, limits or expectations? The answer is NO. Though positive discipline promotes non-violent actions, doing these will only worsen the situation.

Positive discipline has five components which include identifying long-term goals, providing warmth and structure, understanding child development, identifying individual differences and problem-solving and responding with positive discipline. These components are done on a hierarchy basis with the long-term goals as the foundation.

The first thing to bear in mind is to think of why a teacher should practice positive discipline. To help students succeed in life, this is a teacher’s long-term goal, this is their blue print. To achieve this, one needs to have warmth and structure.

Warmth affects students emotionally, behaviorally and academically. As an adult, one is motivated to try and learn from their mistakes if they know that they have support around them, what more do the students. They learn their best when they feel respected, understood and trusted. If there is warmth, students feel that they are safe within the four walls of their classroom, they will not be afraid to make mistakes. They will not be anxious so they are less distractible.

Teachers must also support their students while learning, showing them that they are interested to know who their students are, recognize their efforts and small successes. These small victories give them positive feelings about school, the subject taught and to themselves.

Positive discipline is also looking at their situation in their point of view before reacting to the situation itself.  Hearing their point of view will help them find ways to fix their mistakes it will show them how to work out conflicts with other people in a constructive and non-violent way.

Providing structure on the other hand, is involving students in setting rules and explaining to them why there should be rules. A teacher should also act as positive role models to them in a way that helps them to be fair, control anger and avoid threats.

When using positive discipline, warmth and structure should be combined throughout the students’ school years.  It will help teachers meet their short-term goals and leave a positive long-life impact on their students’ life.

It is also important to take into consideration the development of students, whether they are in early primary (6-8 years old), late primary (9-12 years old) or adolescence (13-18 years old). This is because children do not learn the same way at every age. The way they think and understand things change, so the way to teach them must also change. One’s expectations must always match their abilities.

Along with their development are their individual differences. Each child in a classroom has a unique set of experience. It is extremely important to understand the challenges that each one of them face and provide them the support they need.

Positive discipline as mentioned earlier takes time and lots of thought. It will not be always easy to respond constructively to every challenging situation. This is why one should always think ahead, plan a response and practice a lot. Why? Because positive discipline, yes! It is possible. “Para sa bata, para sa bayan!”