The social adaptation of younger students takes place in a collective interaction with peers, and the school environment is optimal for continuous communication and the acquisition of the necessary cognitive skills. However, regarding behavioral aspects, children’s personal differences can be obstacles to maintaining a favorable microclimate. Teachers often encounter students’ inappropriate behavior and are forced to use specific methods of maintaining discipline in the educational process. Some concepts and techniques are convenient in certain cases, but for every child, as Berk (2008) argues, an individual approach is required. As a result, upbringing tasks in the school environment are important objectives that contribute to the adaptation of children and the acquisition of cultural interaction skills with peers and adults. This letter is addressed to school teachers and aims to describe how school discipline can advance and which practices are the best for interventions.
Since students spend most of their day outside school, parents’ role in upbringing is significant. Berk (2008) mentions the concept of parental discipline and notes that this technique involves different types of punishment for individual misdeeds. However, when applying this upbringing technique to the child-teacher interaction, its use seems unacceptable. In conditions of limited time and numerous activities, it is difficult for adults at school to follow the same disciplinary practices that parents resort to at home. In addition, according to Gregory et al. (2016), equality in maintaining discipline is a concept that should be addressed regardless of the individual characteristics of the learning environment or children’s background. In their study of out-of-school suspension among schoolchildren, authors note that African American students received this punishment more often than children of other races – 26.2% (p. 326). These statistics prove the importance of adhering to the practice of equality and reflect the dangerous effects of intentional bias. Therefore, the concept of parental discipline is not relevant to the school environment because, despite the individuality of every child, the approach to controlling behavior is usually carried out in the form of mass interventions.
For school teachers, the concept of inductive discipline is a more acceptable practice that is suitable for interacting with younger students. Berk (2008) analyzes this technique and argues for its benefits. In particular, the author notes that if a teacher demonstrates to those children who behave inappropriately what effect their misdeeds have on others, this stimulates guilt and the acceptance of misconduct (Berk, 2008). This method of influencing schoolchildren is convenient because a child does not always understand the reason why he or she is punished but can interpret one’s actions in the context of influence on others. Therefore, advancing discipline by demonstrating the effect of misdeed can help a teacher stimulate a student’s responsibility and rule out precedents for misconduct. Moreover, this form of exposure has a long-term effect because, in the future, children will analyze the consequences of their actions in the context of influencing others and behave more carefully. One of the main conditions for the introduction of this technique is adults’ explanations of the consequences of misconduct so that a child could perceive the information and use it in the future independently.
In addition to the principle of inductive discipline, the concept of social and emotional learning should be taken into account as a potentially effective technique for influencing students’ behavior. According to Gregory and Fergus (2017), this upbringing principle has a number of valuable benefits and allows not only maintaining equity but also increasing children’s educational competencies. Berk (2008), in turn, remarks that emotional intelligence is no less important than physical development because students’ social adaptation passes easier if they have the necessary skills to express emotions. For teachers, the use of such a concept involves stimulating students’ self-identity, which is essential for the formation of personality and the accumulation of practical and theoretical knowledge. Therefore, the introduction of this technique into the educational process can help transform a chaotic educational environment into an orderly and favorable system of interaction between adults and children.
Finally, the concept of modeling can be a convenient mechanism for influencing students’ discipline positively if applied correctly. As Berk (2008) remarks, a teacher can imitate situations that require a child’s reaction, such as empathy, and moral response is a key incentive. This approach, as the author notes, aims to make a student gain the habit of responding to specific situations spontaneously and correctly (Berk, 2008). In other words, if in the future, a child faces a situation that will require a moral response, for instance, admitting one’s own guilt, the experience of modeling will motivate him or her to behave correctly. In addition, according to Gregory et al. (2016), disrespect cannot be promoted even as an element of modeling since this attitude forms an unfavorable background for interaction and can be the cause of inequality. Thus, both on a personal example and through collective practices, teachers can change the behavioral environment in children’s teams and help students adapt to social communication faster.
Berk, L. (2008). Child development (8th ed.). Pearson.
Davis, A. M., Stough, C. O., Black, W. R., Dean, K., Sampilo, M., Simpson, S., & Landrum, Y. (2016). Outcomes of a weight management program conjointly addressing parent and child health. Children’s Health Care, 45(2), 227-240. Web.
Gregory, A., Clawson, K., Davis, A., & Gerewitz, J. (2016). The promise of restorative practices to transform teacher-student relationships and achieve equity in school discipline. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 26(4), 325-353. Web.
Gregory, A., & Fergus, E. (2017). Social and emotional learning and equity in school discipline. The Future of Children, 27(1), 117-136.
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