Eight Plus One Rules For Disciplining Children

1. Be consistent. Nothing is more confusing and upsetting to children than being consequenced for a wrong behavior one day and not the next, or seeing another child get away with something they got into trouble for.

2. Make sure children know the rules, and what will happen if they don’t follow them.

3. Be preventive and set down your rules before misbehaviours occur. If children do something which you have no rule for, use their misbehaviour as an example for a new rule. Unless their behavior is outrageous, it’s not fair to consequence them before a rule is established.

4. If your discipline involves a time period, make sure children know for how long. Don’t fall into the “How long?” trap.

5. Consequence the behavior, not the child. A good rule-of-thumb is to describe specifically what children do wrong. This way you won’t make comments like, “You’re a bad boy,” or “How does your mother put up with you?”

6. Make sure your consequences immediately follow children’s misbehaviour. Children have to see the connection between what they did and what you are doing.

7. Consequences have to make sense; they must be fair and logically follow from children’s misbehaviours. Avoid having the same consequence for everything children do wrong–staying after school and being sent to the office are favorites.

8. Stay away from witch hunting. Trying to find out who the culprit is only leads to rivalry between your students. Instead let all your students share responsibility for a problem, and ask them to come up with a solution.

9. Never forget to tell children what they do right. It gives them reasons to believe in themselves, and helps build their self-confidence and motivation to keep trying. If you’re always punishing and pointing out their mistakes, they’ll never learn to do anything right, and eventually feel like failures.