The goal of any necessary “discipline” or guidance at the Infant/Toddler Lab School is to promote life-long self-control and self-discipline in children. We want children to learn to make appropriate choices by themselves and not to rely on adults to control their behavior for them. In accordance with our goals of discipline, we utilize supportive guidance techniques that help children make choices about their behavior and build their self-esteem. We do this with positive attention and by setting appropriate limits.
Research shows that corporal punishment (as well as other forms of punishment) is not an effective response to any kind of behavioral problem and has negative consequences for children’s development. Therefore, corporal punishment, humiliating or frightening techniques, sarcasm, shaming, threatening, and labeling children (“good” or “bad”) are prohibited. At the lab school, we do not use “time out” as it is not developmentally-appropriate.
Constructive methods are used in maintaining group management and handling individual behavior.
Examples of constructive methods are as follows:
- Children are treated with respect and dignity at all times.
- Rules are established with children (e.g., children cannot hurt themselves or others and they cannot destroy materials/equipment)
- The teachers give verbal instructions that are short, specific, and clear. The staff focuses on what the child should do (in a positive way) rather than what not to do.
- The teachers genuinely acknowledge children’s positive behavior.
- The teachers attempt to understand the possible reasons behind a child’s behavior (e.g., fatigue, illness, unrealistic expectations for their developmental level, emotional environment at home, difficulty with self-control, frustration).
- The teachers use techniques which help to build long term inner self-control and positive developmental outcomes in children (e.g., “giving them words” to express themselves appropriately, giving them choices whenever possible, using redirection, identifying and describing children’s feelings, using reflective statements, using “positive phrasings”, giving reasons for limits, or changing the environment as a preventive means).
- When there is a conflict between children, the teachers use techniques that teach children to problem solve and negotiate with one another.
- The use of external positive or negative reinforcers, which cause the child to perform to earn a reward or frighten a child out of a behavior for fear of punishment, are not used. Instead, the staff value intrinsic rewards (rewards that are inherent to a task or activity itself) (e.g., personal satisfaction from working hard to clean up the blocks).
- Discipline problems are handled in the environment in which they occur.
- Although biting and aggressive behavior are not uncommon in children under three years of age, in excessive situations, parents will be asked to meet with the Master teacher and/or Director to discuss the situation and to come up with a plan to discontinue the aggressive episodes. Parents should never bite their child in play, and if the child bites the parent, he or she should be firmly told that biting hurts and that it will not be allowed. More informational materials are available if needed.