Over the years, South African schooling and the world have rethought the way children's discipline should be handled, and now my ideas are not seen as 'radical' any longer. A few schools continue to administer corporal punishment even though it is outlawed, and most schools continue subjecting children to detention, the writing out of rules and lines, and to negative reinforcement.
At Pinelands North Primary we practise positive discipline. This means that we focus on the positives that children do rather than focusing on the things they don't get right. Classrooms still agree to rules of 'engagement' at the beginning of the year, and these govern what is fair and right in each classroom. For example, when children show good manners, we praise them for remembering to do the right thing but we ignore 'bad' behaviour. When children are noticed and praised for doing something well, they naturally try to replicate that behaviour often. So, the reason our school children are so well behaved, we believe, is because we continually praise those who do the right thing. One of the ways we do this in the whole school, is by 'catching people in the act'. This can be done by children, parents and staff. If I therefore see someone doing the right thing, I would go to reception to find the little slip of paper to complete. The slip looks like this:
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
__________________________________ Grade _____ was caught in the act of:
Caught by _______________________________ Date _____________________
After completing who I caught, and what they did right, the slip is placed on my intercom by the 'catcher' and then is read out to the whole school before breaks or after school. Everybody loves the public reward for doing the right thing! When these notes are read out daily, they remind children about the behaviours that the school community values: kindness, support, sharing, good conflict management and trying your best. We have noticed that it also builds self confidence in children - they love catching their teachers or the cleaning staff in the act, and bravely complete the forms for me to read. Focusing on the positive also creates a happier atmosphere for the school!
So please try to do this in your own home or in your business environment. You will feel less stressed by your children's behaviour and they will start to show you that they really do know how to behave. Try to catch your colleagues at work doing the right thing - adults also love the positive affirmation this brings!