Sunday, August 28, 2011

We ARE the Change!

We hear it, read it and LIKE it: the slogans and campaigns that encourage us, the people, to be the ones to make things happen. To be the change, make the move, shake things up. But what does that mean to the life of an early childhood teacher?

It could mean that you are willing to take a stand on the way we teachers treat discipline as a concept and children in general. Are we going to follow the path of all those before us; glaring eyes, gritting teeth teachers who use techniques like bullying, scolding, lecturing and passive punishment (a.k.a. “time outs”) or bribery (a.k.a. “positive reinforcement”)?

Or are YOU going to step into the light and find out we can all work to do it better? To do what we’ve been saying for years: TEACH.

Children must be taught why their behavior matters to them and to others. They must be taught in ways that are internal and will lead them to make the same decisions when you, the adult, are present or when they are on their own. Is it magic? Is it a trick? Is it foolproof? No. It’s good sense, logical and consistent. Like all good things.

If you are willing to step into the light and be counted, start a book club like Twin Rivers Unified School District and read Enlightened Discipline, host a Parent Growth Seminar like Rainbow Day Care and The Center for Spiritual Awareness, offer Enlightened Discipline Teacher Certification like Discovery Tree Schools, Inc and Creative Child Care, Inc. Go talk to your Director, your Principal, your Program Coordinator, whoever you can get to listen.

Cuss and discuss the ideas, challenge each other and yourself and see where you stand. I believe you will stand in the light of Enlightened Discipline when you are finished.

Have another idea? Contact me and share it! Join the wave. Let’s get going. Our kids can’t wait!

Love Enlightened Discipline with me!


Monday, August 22, 2011

More than Just Words

Ø      Tone   Ø      Volume   Ø      Pitch    Ø      Body Language

Enlightened Discipline, just like any other method can be abused or misused. I can talk and teach all day long about the “right” words to use when teaching Enlightened Discipline, but like any other method, an individual can manipulate the concept with their tone, volume, pitch or use harsh body language with a child and still technically say the correct words.

Those who are parents or have been teachers in a classroom alone for any length of time absolutely know what I mean.

You can say, “Karen it’s not clean to put your feet on the wall at naptime. Put them on your plastic mat.” The perfect Enlightened Discipline approach.

But all that teacher has to do is: clench her teeth, point with a silent and scolding look in her eyes, raise her tone in volume or a shrieking pitch, (even a quiet, threatening whisper) or loom with her adult body in an intimidating fashion and anything “enlightened” is lost.

I encourage teachers to pass the baton to a new team member when they begin to be frustrated by any child. Know when it’s time to call for a new person to take over. With children, sometimes that’s all they need. The conflict may just be a power struggle with YOU and you can win by bowing out. The same thing applies with two parents. Sometimes the second parent can come in and it changes to whole picture.

Power struggles are no-win for teachers or parents. The whole point to Enlightened Discipline is teaching the child to win in life by behaving in ways that are win-win for the whole world. When your emotions take hold and you want to use the old ways, bow out. Find a partner to help. Once you have pushed back against the force of the child’s will the tug-of-war has begun. The only appropriate way to end it is for YOU to drop your side of the tug-of-war rope.  Ask a team member (second parent or older sibling) to pick up where you left off. Their new tone, fresh demeanor will usually work.

Teaching or parenting alone? It’s harder. You will need to give yourself a lot of leverage and drop the tug-of-war rope, (figuratively speaking) immediately, come back in a few minutes with a new perspective and back on track with Safe, Kind and Clean.