Classroom Management – Reasonable Consequences

A consequence is the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier. Good classroom management regularly uses reasonable consequences.

When a teacher makes use of reasonable consequences in her classroom, she is teaching her kids to be accountable for their actions.

“The purpose of a consequence is to retrain the brain and transform the heart.” (Jody Copehart)

I love this quote! I think Jody said it very well. The reason we use consequences in our classrooms is to retrain how our kids think , feel, and behave.

It’s important to make sure that the consequences for actions in our classes are reasonable. Remember, we are lovingly training our kids to love God and to love people. Kids pick up quickly on actions they consider unfair. A reasonable consequence would never be considered unfair. They may not like it, but they can’t call it unfair.

For example, during snack time a child spills their juice. An unreasonable consequence would be to tell the child that they cannot have snack for the next month. Kids would consider that unfair (and rightly so!)  A reasonable consequence would be for that child to clean up the mess. That consequence is logical. They had a spill so they clean it up. Logical and reasonable.

Keep in mind that reasonable consequences are not just for misbehavior. That is why I am talking about them during this series on classroom management and not during a series about discipline. Reasonable consequences are about teaching kids the result of choices. Sometimes these are related to unacceptable behavior and sometimes simply poor choices.

Here are some other examples of reasonable consequences:

  1. If a child plays with a toy, they are responsible for putting it away.
  2. If a child spills their apple juice, they clean it up.
  3. If a child spills a friend’s apple juice, they apologize, clean it up, and make sure their friend gets another drink.
  4. If a child uses rude or inappropriate speech during class, they need to find a nice way to say the same thing.
  5. If a child hurts someone, they need to do something kind for them.
  6. If 2 children are talking to each other instead of listening to the story/lesson, they need to move so they are not sitting together anymore.

Let me encourage you as a Sunday School teacher to start using reasonable consequences in your classroom. Teach your kids that they are responsible for their behavior and the results of their behavior.

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Uh oh! Consequences for Inappropriate Behavior

children's ministry classroom discipline

In this series I have been discussing classroom discipline. In the last post I discussed creating reasonable expectations for Sunday School behavior. In this post, I will discuss reasonable consequences to set for inappropriate behavior.

 

 

 

Once expectations are set, consequences need to be agreed upon for inappropriate behavior. It’s important that all teachers agree on the basic consequences to be used for disobedience. Although each classroom will have specific age-appropriate consequences, the general outcomes should be the same.

Here is an example of general consequences.

“TACK Staff will first speak to the child and issue a warning. If the child chooses to continue the unacceptable behavior, they may be denied a privilege or isolated from the group for a time. If necessary, TACK staff will take the child to his/her parents.”

It is important to note that behavioral expectations and the consequences that go with inappropriate behavior need to be clearly outlined for parents and the children in your Sunday School.

This behavioral guidelines & principles document is one way of outlining expectations and consequences. Teachers need to make sure their students understand what is expected of them and what the consequences will be for breaking the rules. In an upcoming post I will talk about creating specific classroom rules.

So, all teachers need to agree on expectations and the consequences for breaking those expectations. These consequences need to be clearly outlined and followed consistently.

It is important the teachers are consistent in following the agreed upon expectations and consequences. Children feel safe when given boundaries and when they know what to expect.

Once general consequences are agreed upon, teachers can make specific consequences for their classrooms. Consequences in a preschool room are going to look a little different than consequences in an older elementary classroom.

For toddler classes, inappropriate behavior can usually be redirected. It’s important for teachers to explain to children how we behave and treat others. Consequences usually consist of removing a child from a situation or taking an object away from a child. For example, if toddlers are playing and one steals a toy from another, the teacher should get down to the child’s level and say, “In this room we treat others kindly. Taking a toy away from Jonny is not being kind.” Then give the toy back to Jonny and encourage the toddler to say sorry.

For preschool classes, the consequence for inappropriate behavior could be a time-out. The time-out should only be for a couple of minutes. The point is to separate the child and give them a chance to calm down, if necessary. Always talk with the child afterwards and make sure they understood why they were given a time out. Encourage the child to rejoin the group.

For elementary classes, consequences could be denying a privilege or separation from the group for a short time. Children this age enjoy being with their friends, so knowing they could be separated from them even for a short time is usually affective!

Whatever consequences you choose, let the kids know what they are and be consistent in your use of them.

A quick note about natural consequences: I believe consequences need to make sense. So for children misbehaving in class by talking with their neighbor and disturbing the rest of the class, the consequence that makes sense is to separate those children. Have one child move to another seat.  If a child hits another child or says something mean to another child, they should be encouraged to make it right.
Sometimes things happen that aren’t really inappropriate behavior, but need to be dealt with all the same. For example, if a child spills their apple juice they should be encouraged to clean it up.

Consequences are an important part of the discipline process. Remember, it’s about making disciples. Disciples love Jesus, follow Jesus, and obey Jesus. We need to be encouraging our kids to grow by expecting appropriate behavior & giving loving and consistent consequences for inappropriate behavior.

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