Children are often compared to a sponge. They absorb the behavior of the people around them and copy them. When they come to school, a teacher becomes a new model to follow. Thus, the common task of parents and teachers is to lead and direct children to the styles of behavior acceptable in different conditions. The final aim of a successful process of behavior guidance is the formation of self-discipline. The guidance of a child’s behavior begins in early childhood and continues throughout the school years. The application of effective discipline management strategies and consideration of trends in behavior guidance will lead to a steady result.
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Discipline in an Early Childhood Classroom
Early years at school are crucial for the development of self-discipline. It is possible through behavior guidance provided by a teacher with the support of parents at home. Behavior guidance is a process “by which children learn to control and direct their behavior and become independent and self-reliant” (Morrison, 2015, p.409). Proper guidance helps to form the skills which will be useful not only during the school years but for life. Self-regulation which is one of those skills includes the ability to plan and accomplish activities, manage behavior and emotions, preserve attention, provide feedback, and cooperate with others (Morrison, 2015).
Teacher’s guidance of behavior is necessary. It contributes to more academic and lifelong success, helps to prevent delinquency problems, and forms civility. Morrison gives the following instructions to classroom teachers: “Give appropriate guidance and discipline when necessary. Be firm, but kind, and realistic with your expectations. The goal is not to control the child, but rather to help him or she learn self-control” (2015, p.351). Another issue to be considered with regard to discipline is the diversity of children’s backgrounds. Respect and tolerance should be developed together with the fundamentals of discipline (Ponciano & Shabazian, 2012). It is the task of primary educators to deal with cultural issues in the classroom.
The Effective Strategies of Discipline Management
In earlier years, the exclusionary discipline strategies were popular. However, recent research proves that exclusionary discipline practices negatively influence student perceptions of school climate (Mitchell & Bradshaw, 2013). Thus, other approaches and strategies should be applied. At present, positive behavior strategies are more popular and efficient. These strategies include the following. It is necessary to establish classroom rules and inform both children and parents. It is important to develop students’ social skills since society also has some rules to follow and it adds to discipline. The successful conflict resolution is another component of discipline management. Finally, it is important to develop students’ responsibility. Cangelosi (2013) also speaks of developing cooperation as one of the components of successful discipline formation.
Child’s Behavior Guidance: Trends and Issues
Morrison (2015) suggests ten steps to guiding behavior. They are essential for effective child’s guidance. The first step presupposes the arrangement and modification of the environment. It means that a classroom should be supportive, encouraging, and positive. The second step includes the establishment of appropriate expectations. It is important to have the classroom rules to enforce the discipline. The third step demands to model appropriate behavior. It has features specific for every age (Morris, 2015).
The forth step presupposes the guidance of the whole child, not only working with some aspect of behavior. The fifth step demands knowledge and application of developmentally appropriate practice which means that any strategies used should correspond to children’s development stage. Step number six suggests meeting children’s needs. The needs are grounded on Maslow’s needs theory (Morris, 2015). Step seven suggests helping children to build new behaviors including internal control. The eighth step proposes empowering children which is to develop their “sense of responsibility and self-confidence” (Morris, 2015, p.427). Step nine advises to praise and encourage children in their activities. Finally, the tenth step explains how to develop a partnership with parents and families to contribute to child’s behavior guidance.
Management of Specific Situations
The children of the same age demonstrate relatively equal behaviors and reactions. However, sometimes specific situations need individual approaches and treatment. Some of those situations may result from challenging behaviors and mental health issues (Bayat, 2015). As a rule, they are revealed in early childhood and can be reduced with proper management. For example, Bayat (2015) demonstrates ineffectiveness of such classroom discipline strategies as suspension, expulsion, timeout and corporal punishment. Moreover, the researcher suggests to use early childhood prevention practices and intervention approaches to cope with mental health and behavioral issues. They include child-centered play therapy and positive behavior support (Bayat, 2015). A research by MacLure, Jones, Holmes, and MacRae (2012) provides the ways to deal with children who have problems with ‘good’ behavior and become a problem for the class and school.
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On the whole, the management of students’ behavior and development of discipline are complex processes. They demand equal participation of teachers and parents to provide the systematic approach to discipline and behavior. In addition, these processes should be planned with regard to children’s age peculiarities, physical and mental health issues. A complex responsible approach will result in the development of self-discipline.
Bayat, M. (2015). Addressing challenging behaviors and mental health issues in early childhood. New York, NY: Routledge.
Cangelosi, J.S. (2013). Classroom management strategies: Gaining and maintaining students’ cooperation. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
MacLure, M., Jones, L., Holmes, R., & MacRae, C. (2012). Becoming a problem: Behaviour and reputation in the early years classroom. British Educational Research Journal, 38(3), 447-471.
Mitchell, M.M., & Bradshaw, C.P. (2013). Examining classroom influences on student perceptions of school climate: The role of classroom management and exclusionary discipline strategies. Journal of School Psychology, 51, 599-610.
Morrison, G.S. (2015). Early childhood education today. (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Ponciano, L., & Shabazian, A. (2012). Interculturalism: Addressing diversity in early childhood. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 40(1), 23-29.