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.