Saturday, March 10, 2012

SOLSC #10 Briefly, about discipline

A little guy was being fairly aggressive with the playground hoolahoops, chasing one particular classmate and looping the hoop around her by surprise. She had the presence of mind to find me and explain what was happening, "I don't want him to do that to me!"

Together, we went over to this four year old and we talked about the situation.  I, brokering the negotiations.  It is very important to me that the children take the lead in these discussions, as much as possible.

She, "You hit my head and it hurts."
He, "Oh. But I want you to play horse."
They both stare at me.
Me to her, "Do you want to play horse?"
She, "No. I want to play with [Jane]."
Me to him, "We need to make sure that our friends know what game we are playing.  We need to make sure that our classmates are safe, that no one gets hurt.  When you put the hoolahoop over someone's head while they are moving, they might very well get bumped in the head. Thank you for talking about this.  No more hoolahoops over the head, okay?"
He, "Okay!" and both children are off and running, in different directions.

Not even five minutes later, I see this same little guy chasing the same little girl, she screaming, him with hoolahoop raised high, lowering it, smack, around her body again.  I am so surprised.  This is so unusual! This child is not one of my typical "testers."
Didn't we just discuss this very thing? This very action?
I jump to their sides, my hand outstretched.

"[Jack], you lose the hoolahoop now.  This is not okay.  [Jill] told you that she did not want to play and you are not playing safe."  I take the hoolahoop away, and he throws himself to the ground and into a full-blown tantrum,
"No! No! No! You can't take the hoolahoop!  I need it! I need it!"

and then the most poignant line,

"That was only #2, my Daddy always gives me 3 chances."

It makes me chuckle to repeat the story, but fills me with reflection, too.

Children love to explore cause and effect, it is developmentally appropriate to do so, and certainly doesn't make them "bad" when they decide to use a classmate for an experiment.

Children love routines, logic, sequences, and patterns; they pick up on these fairly readily.  What are the nuances of our discipline routines? What are these allowing them to do?

That dear father certainly wasn't promoting a new rule of "hurt twice, then stop." But, on some innate level, this is what the child heard.

Something to think about.


  1. Working with young children keeps us on our toes doesn't it?

  2. This does make me think! And I'll be interested what action it prompts in me.

  3. Good questions for reflection. I recently thought about beginning to video tape myself (or mostly my students with my voice in the backgroun) to see what kinds of patterns I follow. See if they are good patterns or if I could do something different. So often we do things without realizing the consequences, they are natural. You did such a great job encouraging the children to dialogue with each other with you right there as support...not the one taking over. Thanks for the peek inside a "problem solving" teachable moment.