Positive Language & Discipline
Here at Kid Logic Learning, we strongly believe in the use of positive language and discipline in our classrooms. We want to teach our children positive problem solving by modeling a positive message. This approach of phrasing things positively helps our children to process conflict and struggles in a way that promotes safe learning and identifying what “good” choices look and sound like.
Of course, all of our interactions are intended to be “positive” but many times we do have to work with children as they navigate their way through a seemingly “negative” conflict or struggle. Having this conflict throughout their day is developmentally appropriate and also a great learning opportunity for themselves and peers. The modeling and use of positive language and discipline in these situations helps the child to openly express their frustrations or concerns while still learning safe ways to resolve their conflict and how to proceed safely in the future.
Let’s break it down a little further J We want to give our children positive options to express themselves rather than continuously limiting them. Ultimately, let’s help them figure out what they can do versus what they can’t do. Our positive language is recognizing a behavior or action and verbally acknowledging it in a way that asks for the positive alternative to the situation. Say the action you want to see! And don’t forget, it’s OK to be mad sometimes!! Let children feel the way they feel and help them finds ways to process those feelings!
After modeling and using positive language, sometimes there are situations that require us, as adults and educators, to take a firmer action or response. “Time Out’s ” or “Take a break” are usually the household phrases. Let’s steer away from those a bit, as they focus on the negative behavior rather than emphasizing on the positive outcome that’s trying to be achieved. Here at school, we use the term “Find some space”. This indicates that a child needs to find a space, either of their choosing or one that’s chosen for them, so that they can calm their mind and bodies enough the be able to process and resolve the conflict at hand. Suggest tools that they can employ to achieve self-soothing. I.E. Read a book, get a stuffed animal, lay on a pillow, sing a song to yourself, etc. You can suggest that once they’re ready to be “friendly” or “kind” (or whatever the action is you’re trying to achieve) he/she can join back into the situation/group. A second option is to use a timer (visual timers or sound timers). This can help many children settle themselves down knowing that there’s a limit of time for how long they are taking space away from the situation. Then the timer’s signal is a great re-fresher and starting point to calmly revisit the situation. It’s all about giving them the tools and suggesting ideas that they might not have otherwise thought of.
If a child hits a friend (for any number of reasons), instead of saying “DON’T HIT!” you could acknowledge the result of the hitting (“Ouch! That hurts my friend.” OR “Ouch, that makes my friend sad”). This helps to demonstrate the Cause/Affect for both children. The next step is to offer a safe and friendly alternative to the behavior, “Our hands are for gentle touches” or “We can use our hands for giving a hug!” Coordinate those words with the actions, “This is a gentle touch” and model giving a hug.
A huge goal is to also acknowledge the child’s frustration which led to the behavior in the first place. It’s OK to be mad sometimes! You can share your empathy by saying things like, “I can see that made you mad. Instead of hitting your friend you could say, ‘I want a turn!’.” If the negative behavior escalates after several attempts to demonstrate a safe and positive way to be, suggest “You can find some space until you’re ready to use gentle hands.”