Our discipline policy is intended to be proactive rather than reactive, starting with good organization of the caregiver. Caregivers will move to situations that could be potentially problematic and diffuse them before they get out of hand. Social challenges are handled on an individual basis and usually through redirection, positive encouragement and modeling the appropriate behavior. The younger children react best to simple redirection through song and rhyme whereas the older children learn to give voice to their feelings and verbally negotiate with each other. We have found that by offering a choice between doing it themselves or having us help them do it the child is able to choose to act responsibly and either do whatever needs doing themselves, for example, giving the toy back that they just snatched or asking for help to reach a box just at the tips of their fingers that is about to come crashing down! Occasionally a child needs to be separated from the group in order to allow them time and space to become calmer. When this is needed, an adult accompanies the child to a quiet spot where he or she can spend a short time collecting himself or herself with the loving guidance of the caregiver. If this happens consistently and/or becomes a concern for the health or well being of the rest of the group, we will initiate verbal communication with a parent of the child to plan the next step to improve the situation.
We are committed to The Virtues Project, which is a beautifully designed program that encourages children to act from the very best part of themselves. Every two or three weeks we introduce a new virtue. We talk about it, we experience it in a game or activity, we sing about it, and our story may be about it. By having specific behaviors to practice such as generosity, thoughtfulness, friendliness, kindness and flexibility, the children can all succeed every day to practice at least one virtue (usually many more!). We can also be specific in our praise. Instead of just saying “good job” we can really let the child know exactly what it was they did so well. Alternatively instead of saying a child is having a “bad day” or “hard time” we can try and identify exactly what virtue would make the situation better and encourage the child to practice it. For more information about this wonderfully inclusive approach to child guidance please see: www.virtuesproject.com