Wednesday, June 27, 2012


When considered by parents, teachers and other caregivers as a punitive measure, discipline will, by definition, wrongly include an emotional component and carry with it the stigma of retribution or the need to “get even” for someone doing something “wrong.” It usually involves reacting out of frustration instead of responding with the goal of teaching. This approach provides with few benefits and has a number of limitations. In this context, discipline is equated with punishment and is not consistent with our mission. At all times, this mindset is to be avoided. Punitive behavior management strategies become an invitation to find ways to “get even” rather than an invitation to understand the framework for positive behavior.  As a corrective tool, discipline can be used to clarify the potential consequences for “bad behaviors.” By applying the concept of natural and logical consequences, the emotional element normally found in punitive disciplinary actions becomes neutral.

Natural consequences are those which allow children to learn from the physical order of things. Example: “If you spill your juice on yourself, you will be wet until we can get home and you can change.”
Logical consequences are those which permit children to learn from the reality of the social order. Example: the child’s clothes are all over his bedroom floor and he refuses to put them away. He wants to play video games. So the logical consequence would be: putting away the clothes is required before playing. 

 Natural and logical consequences require the child to be responsible for his own behaviors. As a father I want to motivate my kids to make responsible decisions, not to force them to submission.

 Here are some tips:

1. Be both firm and kind. Firmness refers to your follow through behavior. Kindness refers to the manner in which you present the choice. In other words, firm with the problem, nice with your child. But always give the child a chance to choose so that he can have control: “Would you like to your shower now or after dinner?” “Do you want to do homework before or after playing in the computer?”

2. Talk less; act more.

3. Avoid fights; they indicate lack of respect for the other person. Do not give in; that indicates lack of respect for yourself.

4. Motivate instead of obligate. Example: “if you eat your food you can have dessert.”

And don’t forget to play and have fun with your kids. You not only enjoy them but you deposit “money in the bank for rainy times” (when you have to direct them to non-preferred activities). Love and fun are the most powerful tools of discipline.

Daniel Adatto, BCBA

No comments:

Post a Comment