In PreK Corner, I share and have discussions with you about issues that cover the journey that children take from birth to school age (PreK) and how this journey will affect them throughout their lives.
Have you ever heard yourself say “If you were my child I would ...”? Well, you may fill in the blank. The reality is he or she is not your child so what do you do when faced with a child you feel is being “bad” and out of control. Disciplining children should not be a battle. When we battle with children, no one usually wins. Every child is uniquely different in temperament and personality. Not only is it vital to know the child it is also essential to know yourself. What causes us to react the way we do when faced with the challenge that disciplining a child brings.
In future columns, we will discuss some of the things that motivate adult responses to children in more depth, but for now, we should realize that when disciplining our children or someone else’s there are times when we might need to take a personal time out. I suggest that one way to know that you may need a time out is when you think to yourself “Oh NO you didn’t.” This thought may be a sign that you are taking what the child did personally or that you are becoming angry. When discussing children, a Bible verse may come to mind that I will share because as we know, there is no better authority. Ephesians 6:4 (ESV), "Fathers do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
Taking a timeout means to stop, take a deep breath or walk away from the situation with the child. Taking time to think about what you are doing and saying in response to what has happened is crucial. It only takes a moment to say or do something that could cause emotional damage or deep anger in a child, which may take a lifetime to get over.
Children are little human beings who have good days and not so good days. My experience observing children as they interact with their peers and with adults is that there are usually underlying reasons for their actions and reactions. It is up to guardians, parents and teachers to know how and when to respond.
There is a lot of research conducted on the topic of discipline. Researchers have given it many titles and approaches such as guidance, redirection, self-regulation and teachable moments, which provide insight into discipline methods that are age appropriate. I have found that one positive way to impact a child’s behavior is to interact with them from a place of love consistently, even when disciplining children, they should still feel loved.
I look forward to sharing more on the topic of discipline with you next month in PreK-Corner.
Dr. Mattie Jones has a doctorate in the Philosophy of Education from Indiana State University and a Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Ball State University. She can be reached at www.prekkeys.com.