Saturday, May 4, 2013

Kindness vs. Discipline

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Arlington National Cemetery.
What is kindness?  What role does is play in raise children?  When does kindness turn into permissiveness?  

I have often been accused of being too demanding of my own kids and my school kids.  Some view my behavior as being mean to the kids and yelling at them too much.  I am often told by children "she/he doesn't like you".  I surprise them by saying "Good".    I explain my expectations of their behavior and enforce them with "the look", a gesture and finally a spoken word.  Over the years I have observed many wonderful teachers using different techniques for discipline and incorporate them as necessary.  Just yesterday I learned a new one when subbing in a kindergarten class to get their attention.  The teacher says "Classity Class".  The students respond "Yessity Yes".   Simple, quiet and effective.

I am not a parent or a teacher to be liked by my children , the students or anyone.  It is not a popularity contest.  When my kids were babies my parents gave me audio tapes from Love and Logic.  Those tapes have guided me ever since.  If you have never heard of this, follow the link.  The advice is simple and applicable to all.

I have simple goals and priorities.

First Priority:  Keep Them Safe!  

This may seem odd to some.  Shouldn't my first priority to be education?  No.  Safety is always first.  That means demanding they hold the handrail on the stairs so they don't break ribs like I did.  That means no running in the halls or horsing around in the classroom.  Same rules and more apply at home.

I also am constantly on guard for dangers.  For me, a mother's instinct is being cursed with visions of everything that could possibly happen to injury or kill.  I must teach others to be aware of the dangers and how to stay safe.

In light of Sandy Hook Elementary and other tragedies, this has taken on a whole new meaning.  

Second Priority: Are they OK?

I watch for signs of a problem with the kids.  Be it physical health, mental health or frustration.  I want to make sure these needs are being addressed.  They must be taught when to persevere and when to ask for help and how to work through frustrations.

Third Priority: Proper Behavior.

I don't mean teaching them how to use the correct fork at dinner.  I want kids to learn how to treat each other.  How to do their work quietly.  How to work together effectively.  How to respect one another.  How to act in various settings.

I tell the kids that I want to help them grow into adults that I want as part of my life.  I want to be able to say with a smile, "I know that person and consider him a friend". 

Without proper behavior, all the knowledge in the world is meaningless.    A person who can't control his behavior runs the risk of losing jobs, losing friends and loneliness.  We are social creatures.  We need to be able to be around each other without hurting each other physically or emotionally.

Fourth Priority: Expand Their Knowledge.

I am very unorthodox.  I have experiences and knowledge unlike any other in this community.  I want to expand their interest in the world and learning.  Broaden their views and expose them to some of the joys and wonders that education can bring.

If I am permissive, none of this will be accomplished.  I never call anyone stupid or any other derogatory name.  I will not permit them to use such language.  

Rules are made to be followed by everyone all the time.  I enforce this.  Practice and redirection is needed.  

If kids are not told their behavior or work is unacceptable, how will they ever know?   Constant guidance and correction can seem annoying but it is sometimes needed.  The goal is diminishing support and their ultimate independence.  I will not praise kids or anyone falsely.  They know when it is not sincere.  

I do not seek to be their friend at this age.  I am their mentor and their guide.   I am the voice of "the rules" and their conscience until they have learned the rules and learned to listen to their conscience.

I would rather the kids respect me than think of me as nice and kind.  If I worry about being viewed as kind, I run the risk of letting them walk all over me and do whatever they want. Striving for Independence: Ways to Help Children with Disabilities Learn to Function More Indepedently eBook: Kristan Payne: Kindle Store