Three Worst Discipline Practices in Elementary Schools

Punishing doesn’t work; changing behavior does.

I was talking to an assistant principal when I was a county director regarding a little person who was “misbehaving”. The administrator kept saying, “There must be consequences! [insert little person’s name here] can’t keep doing that! We need consequences!”  I’m a firm believer in consequences for behavior.

We all have to “pay the piper” when we do something we shouldn’t do.  I also believe that the consequences should be geared toward changing behavior and not punishing the child. There is a difference.  Consequences get the child to think about what s/he has done and to come up with different, more appropriate ways to behave.  Punishment gives the adult satisfaction. If your child’s school is using the practices below, they are more than likely not changing behavior; they are punishing the child:

  •  Silent Lunch:  An oldie but not so goodie, Silent Lunch does a couple of things to kids:  a) it punishes a whole group for the volume of a few; b) students in elementary school get very little time to socialize and chat with their friends.  Of course, they’re going to be a little loud.  Better to let them talk about their Beyblades and Avengers End Game in the scant twenty minutes they have together than during math lesson, yes?
  • Taking Away Recess:  It’s so easy to use this as a stick for misbehavior, but, unfortunately, the students from whom we take recess are the ones who need it the most.  Johnny is up out of his seat a lot, so we take the time off of recess. Taking away recess from a restless child is counter-productive, and it punishes everyone, including the teacher because if Johnny-and every other child on the planet-doesn’t get the wiggles out at recess, he’ll get it out somewhere.  What if, instead, we gave everyone more recess if Johnny can keep it together during the hour and a half of reading time? 
  • The Clip System:  We’ve all seen the Green, Yellow, Red, and Blues on a stick with clothespins clipped on containing children’s names.  Why in the world is it a good idea to publicly display a child’s behavior for the entire class to see?  In one school, I saw a teacher taking her portable clip system into the hallways with her, so her students’ behavior could be on display for the whole school!  This is public shaming at its worst.  If teachers and schools want to build relationships with children and families, The Clip System is definitely the wrong way to go about it.

Let’s come together to work with schools and to banish these punitive practices. Call me; I can help.

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