As an early childhood educator, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is how do we handle discipline in a preschool setting.
I believe in a method called developmental discipline. When used it forms an ongoing process of discipline where children learn from logical consequences for their behavior. Teachers use knowledge, insight and expertise about child development in order to best handle each individual situation. It is imperative that educators understand and observe children's individual temperament, strengths and weaknesses.
To use developmental discipline requires that there is communication between children, teachers and parents, as well as the other children in the classroom. When we teach children how to resolve conflict and communicate it has shown to enhance self esteem, teaches self control, and gives children an appropriate outlet for their feelings of frustration and anger.
Developmental discipline requires that teachers use different approaches for each child and situation. At the core is a calm approach when conflict arises, treating it as a normal occurrences, which of course it is. Sensitivity and respect for child is critical, as we must remember each child is at a different stage in their development. Our job as educators is to create the the best environment for the children in order to minimize the conflict that can arise.
Children are taught how to identify their feelings, with a teacher asking are you feeling mad, you seem sad, or can you tell me how you are feeling. Children are listened to, validated and given empathy. If it is required, we teach the children how to go to the person who was the transgresor and speak to them about how their action made them feel. From here we ask the children how can we work this out? You would be surprised at how creative and eager children are to share in this discussion.
The word discipline means to teach. Keep in mind while there are many ways to teach children, when we come to the table with love, respect, and intelligence we are bound to meet the goal of creating children for a better world.