Bribes and Threats Work, But…Book Study Expert Commentary for Chapters 27 and 28 (Week 14)

Published on: November 30, 2015

Filled Under: Beyond The Pages, Books, Guest Speakers, Resources

Views: 9114

What If Book Study Marketing PicThis week we are discussing Chapters 27 & 28. Deborah Hirschland will provide insight and lead our discussion this week about behavior strategies. Just joining us? Get all the book study details HERE.

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Deborah HirschlandFour-year-old Kevin plops down in the block area of a Pre-K classroom where his classmate Sam has been constructing an elaborate castle. Kevin immediately grabs for the arched block that Sam is placing out front as an entryway, but Sam isn’t interested in handing it over. He calmly points out that there are others just like it nearby.

Kevin doesn’t seem to understand that Sam is trying to help out and doesn’t want to take no for an answer. With a look of intense frustration, he kicks over the entire castle. Then, after delivering a well-placed punch to Sam’s arm, he runs off.

Sam begins to wail. The classroom’s lead teacher Amalia heads Sam’s way to find out what happened. She looks visibly stressed: this is the third time that Kevin has caused another child great distress and it’s only twenty minutes into the morning.

Amalia and her co-teacher Libby are trying to stay patient and upbeat in the face of Kevin’s many difficulties. Experienced and skilled educators, they’ve taught kids with challenging behaviors before and know that even with good help, it can take time for such children to find their way. They remind themselves often that this is Kevin’s first experience in preschool and that his play and social skills are well behind those of his peers. They’re also starting to sense that Kevin has some difficulties processing language, “hard-wired” vulnerabilities that could well be contributing to the behaviors that are causing them such concern.

What to do?  Part of the problem for these teachers is that Kevin’s frustration is so quickly ignited, and that he hurts other children so frequently. As a result, it’s difficult for them to find opportunities to offer him the support he needs to develop the skills he lacks: skills in using language to make his needs known, in playing and problem-solving with other kids, and in managing his frustration without lashing out.  If only he’d stop kicking, hitting, and hurling toys – and stop running around the room when they try to lend a hand…

Amalia and Libby are wondering something. Should they consider giving Kevin time-outs to reduce his explosive and unsafe behaviors? They’re not sure; they’re strong advocates of their program’s overall no time-out policy, though they know that their director will work with them to make an exception to that policy if everyone decides it’s truly needed. But even with the possibility of time outs as a last ditch option, they’re hesitant – such an approach might leave Kevin feeling even more frustrated than he is already. Should they set up a sticker system instead? They’re not convinced about that idea either. With Kevin’s high level of impulsivity, such a system might not even make a dent in what’s going on.

Amalia and Libby are stumped. That’s why, as the program’s early childhood mental health consultant, I have been called into the classroom to take a look. It’s also why, standing in an unobtrusive spot from which I can observe Kevin, I see firsthand the events just described. To figure out how to help this boy begin to thrive, and to provide the other children in his classroom with the safe and calm classroom environment they deserve, Amalia, Libby and I have our work cut out for us.

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Nicole, a single mother, is worried about her daughter Maya. Nicole believes that the experience of a trust-filled attachment should always lie at the heart of parenting – she has read some books she really liked about “attachment parenting” – and consistently lets five-year-old Maya know that she’s interested in hearing about how she’s feeling when she’s upset. Nicole does her best to help her daughter work through what’s bothering her, and sees the two of them as beautifully connected.  Nicole values that sense of connection because when she was young, she didn’t get much of what she needed emotionally from either of her parents. As a result, she swore that when she had kids, they’d have her full attention and support when they were having a hard time.

There’s a problem though. Maya is continuing to get very upset at home many times a day, and often over seemingly small things. At those times she cries hard, yells loudly, and often ends up kicking and hitting her mom. Nicole always tells Maya that hurting others isn’t okay. And after Maya sorts her way through the problem at hand, she quickly returns to her sunny self once again. Furthermore, Nicole has consistently heard from Maya’s teachers that her daughter rarely falls apart in school – there she’s experienced as a calm and relatively flexible classroom member. Kids enjoy her company and her teachers do too.

Nicole is delighted to know that out in the world Maya is doing so well. But things don’t seem to be improving at home and she’s starting to feel that her daughter is stuck in a way that isn’t good for either of them. Now Nicole is seeking some guidance from me about what to do.  Should she be firmer with Maya? She’s not keen on the idea of time-out, she declares without my asking – she has troubling memories of being sent to her room frequently as a child and doesn’t want to do the same to Maya. She wonders aloud about some other options. Should she institute a reward system to help Maya learn to stay calmer in the face of frustration?  Should she start taking away privileges or much-desired activities as a way of encouraging Maya to behave differently?

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Kevin and Maya’s stories are just two of many that take place in young children’s families and classrooms across the country every day. Sometimes the “bumps” kids experience at home or in school are big like Kevin’s. Sometimes they’re even smaller than Maya’s. But whatever the specifics, all children need the adults who care for them to help them in becoming engaged learners, compassionate friends, capable problem-solvers, and responsible and caring family members. As Kevin’s teachers and Maya’s mother know well, however, it can be hard to figure out just how to provide the help kids need to achieve these important goals.

I’ll return to Kevin and Maya later. For now it’s worth noting that their stories raise some of the same questions that Rae Pica addresses in chapters 27 and 28 of her wonderful book What If Everybody Understood Child Development.  Are rewards and punishments ever a useful part of helping kids learn to manage their feelings and behaviors in the midst of their busy families and classrooms? Does their use – or overuse – lead to children relying on outside motivators rather than coming to feel confident and in control from a deep and enduring place within themselves?  How about the kind of “if-then” statements Maya’s mother is considering using (“if you do this, you won’t be able to do that”)?  Is it ever a good idea – not just in the short term but in regard to children’s development over time – to use natural consequences to help kids learn to balance their needs with the needs of others with whom they live, play, and learn?

How about time-out? Should it ever be an element of what we do as educators or parents to help kids find successful ways to manage their impulses when they’re upset or angry?  Should it ever be a part of our “toolbox” as we help children learn to do what adults need them to even when they don’t feel like it?  Should it be one of many tools we turn to, or should we ban it as a tool altogether? And if we do “give time-out a time-out,” what might we replace it with when we feel like we’ve already tried everything we can think of to support a child in developing new skills, to help him as he works through how he’s feeling, and to assist him as he learns alternatives to behaving in ways that just won’t fly in our homes and schools? Finally, as in Kevin’s case, what should we do when a child is being unsafe, over and over again?  Is time-out a useful strategy then?

These are hugely important questions for all of us in the field, and Rae has brought them to the fore simply and eloquently in the chapters just noted. They’re not always easy questions to answer. In fact, I’ve wrestled with them repeatedly over the course of my career as a social worker who spends much of her time in early childhood settings, working with children who are struggling in one way or another, partnering with teachers who are concerned about those same youngsters, and helping parents support their kids more successfully at home. These questions have also made their way into the books I’ve written about helping some of our most worrisome children begin to thrive at home and in school. (Kevin, as is probably clear, fits in that category.)

I’ve now spent over thirty years in the early childhood field. During that time we have swung this way and that on a lot of issues – the use of time-out being just one. We debate what’s best for kids. We nix one idea and try another. The pendulum about what we think of as “best practice” swings back and forth.  And whenever there is new thinking that emerges from the worlds of research, theory-building, or practice, we consider what it can tell us about how to support and nurture the kids we care for.

The areas we consider in this regard range widely. We don’t just have information about how relying on rewards and punishments can work in the short run but hold back children’s progress in the long run. We also know quite a bit more than we used to about how children’s temperaments and hard-wiring affect their ways of being at home and in school. We have learned a lot about the impact of stress on kids’ ability to cope well too. And we’ve come to understand just how much troubling or traumatic experiences can impact children’s development, readiness to learn, and emotional well-being. And this short list is just a start.

The nuances in how we now think about children play out in what we do. Our growing understanding of children’s sensory issues, for example, has led some educators to go from insisting that young kids should all sit “criss-cross applesauce” during group time to giving kids four different ways to sit and telling them they can go from one to another when they get restless. What those educators find is that just a little “tweak” like this one, based on some relatively new knowledge about differences in development, can lead to a great reduction in the “wiggles” as a class of kids engages in group-based activities and learning. Endless reminders are reduced as well and – in classrooms that use them – time-outs may no longer seem so vital to the success of circle time.

There are other examples too. Realizing how many twenty-first century children are coming to their classrooms highly stressed and notably distracted, some teachers have started using a mix of yoga and breathing techniques to help kids relax more and focus better. And based on new understandings of how the brain works when an individual is emotionally overloaded – and on the importance of maintaining connection with kids who are easily frustrated and/or overwhelmed – educators sometimes offer children specific things to do when they’re upset rather than always sending them off to a “calm down” corner to figure out how to pull themselves together without support. (See Becky Bailey’s Creating the School Family for more on one version of this kind of approach.) We use social stories to help kids master the difficult issues in their lives and give them visuals about how to engage in problem-solving too. (See the website of the Center for the Social Emotional Foundations of Early Learning or CSEFEL, for specifics.)

In short, we’ve learned a lot and we keep trying to get it right. And as I now take all of this complexity and return to questions about rewards, punishments, and time-outs, there are a few aspects to what I’m going to suggest in response to chapters 27 and 28 of What if Everyone Knew About Child Development.

On the one hand, as Rae points out so clearly, we want to keep in mind what we’re aiming for – in this case, kids who are engaged, connected, and compassionate, and who learn how to control their impulses and manage their feelings from a place of inner strength and well-being. We want to avoid what we’re worried about too, i.e. fostering kids who “behave appropriately” in the moment in order to gain rewards or praise (or avoid punishment or isolation) but who don’t develop the inner resources that will serve as their guides and anchors over time.

On the other hand, I believe strongly that we should guard against getting too dogmatic about absolutes along the way. Especially since absolutes – never do this, always do that – tend not to take into account how children differ one from the next: their constitutional natures are different, their families and cultures of origin are different, and their earliest experiences in life are different too. If kids are all different, should we have blanket rules about what we do and don’t do to help them thrive? And yet… aren’t there some basic assumptions and rules that we can rely on even in the midst of all of this complexity: things we should never think or do or always think and do? More questions without easy answers.

As a way of holding all these important points and questions in mind, I like the idea of exploring our teaching practice in ways that are not just child-friendly (based on what we know about how all children learn and grow) but also child-specific (taking into account children’s unique histories and ways of being). What does this balancing act involve? In part, it requires acknowledging some basic principles: That we want all kids to feel cherished and supported. That we believe all kids benefit from knowing that their needs are valued and their feelings are understood. That we believe, at the same time, that all kids need help learning to live in a world in which those feelings and needs have to coexist with the feelings and needs of others – that sometimes they’ll have to wait, that often they’ll need to share, and that living in groups means the necessity for flexibility, compromise, and problem-solving.

In this same arena of child-friendly universals, there are other principles as well. Most of us would probably agree that it helps all kids to understand, over time, that some kinds of behavior are hurtful and that being a responsible member of a family or classroom community means that both kids and adults have to learn to manage their feelings and to control their impulses. Most of us would agree, too, that we’d like all kids to feel that we’ll stick with them lovingly as we help them develop the skills they’ll need to be empowered yet compassionate and assertive yet flexible. We want all kids to know that mistakes are part of learning, and that we don’t expect them to be perfect. We just want them to keep trying, and want them to understand that grown-ups make lots of mistakes and have lots to learn too.

What about the child specific end of things? Maybe we need to acknowledge that for some kids, time-outs will feel too shame-filled to work well but that for others, the use of time-outs as one option of many – or as part of a safety plan that has time-outs as a bottom line – may be helpful. Maybe we can entertain the idea that “if-then” consequences are part of many cultures and can be a really useful way of helping kids learn that their behavior has consequences – and that such consequences for some kids used sometimes – may actually help them internalize their learning so that eventually their motivation to control their impulses and manage their feelings will stem “from the inside not the outside.”

Maybe we can remind ourselves that pleasure and interest in a child’s presence and efforts is often far more powerful then praise for their accomplishments but that praise, in reasonable doses, can have its place too. And perhaps we can keep in mind that kids really do need to feel that when they’re not controlling themselves in a safe or caring way, adults will support them in developing the skills of self-control they lack but will also stop them from hurting others or destroying things. Maybe we’ll consider the idea that for some kids used sometimes, “stop messages” that involve a removal – to a time-out pillow, to a bedroom to play quietly, or to a quiet corner to calm down and reflect – may be an extremely useful tool. We might even ask ourselves whether for some kids for short periods all the time a very steady time-out plan may be just the thing to begin turning things for the better. For some kids, never.  For some kids, sometimes. For some kids, all the time for a short time.

The same goes for rewards. Without a doubt, an over-reliance on rewards has dire consequences for kids over time, consequences that both Rae and Alfie Kohn write about with great wisdom. That said, when a child is having trouble managing his feelings and is engaging in a particular behavior that’s problematic and worrisome – and when, in addition, we’ve tried a number of approaches that haven’t been successful – it can sometimes be useful to develop a short term reward system to “jump-start” change.

I once was helping a preschool program with a four-year-old who was hitting other kids frequently when he was angry. He had a lot to be angry about – his life at home was terribly difficult. But things in his classroom had gotten to the point where his classmates were giving him a wide berth, and the steady emotional support and proactive coaching his loving teachers were providing weren’t working to help him find less hurtful ways to manage his feelings.

A week-long and specifically targeted rewards system helped enormously. It temporarily seemed to trump the intensity of his anger with the motivation to get the rewards he was being offered. And preschoolers being the forgiving sorts that they are meant that within a week he was welcomed back into the classroom’s circle of play. That experience of being welcomed by his peers quickly became a motivator in its own right, along with his teachers’ and parents’ deep pleasure in his progress. But it’s worth noting that it was a reward system, used only to help with one behavior and only for a week, which allowed a wonderful shift to begin taking place. For some kids, never. For some kids, sometimes. For some kids all the time for a short time.

None of what I’m saying here contradicts what Rae is encouraging us to consider: She’s asking us to question ourselves about the practices we use and sometimes overuse. She’s encouraging us to think carefully about why we do what we do and how we do it. And perhaps most importantly, she’s pushing us to consider what impact our approaches actually have on kids – versus what impact we believe they will have.

So what I’m doing here – or so I hope – is to try to add to the discussion, and to emphasize that there’s a lot of nuance in this complex process of considering what’s good for kids. Our best practice pendulum swings back and forth for a reason. Can we honor both the wisdom and the limits inherent in each side it reaches? Can we keep our universal principles in mind while adapting to individual children’s needs? Can we keep flexibility in and rigid rules out?

I think so. The problem is that once we commit ourselves to being flexible, things get tricky. Because if we entertain the idea of employing a particular strategy from time to time, knowing that it can have significant downsides, we open the door to that strategy’s overuse and misuse. Yet we don’t want to get too boxed in by a particular point of view if being helpful to different kinds of children means having a lot of tools in our toolbox.

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All of this brings me back to Kevin and Maya. A flexible approach was undeniably helpful for both kids. As always, connectedness and care lay at the heart of what these two children needed in order to thrive, and an emphasis on skill development over behavior management did too. (See Jenna Bilmes’ wonderful book Beyond Behavior Management for more on this important distinction.) That said, in Kevin’s situation, it helped enormously to implement a safety plan – one that included a version of time-outs. For Maya, some if-then consequences at home helped things move forward significantly. There were other changes in what Kevin’s teachers and Maya’s mother did to support these two kids as well. That makes sense:  helping kids grow and thrive is always a multi-faceted endeavor.

So what were the changes made in responding to these two children? How did the judicious use of time-outs and if-then consequences sit alongside the many other aspects of how adults interacted with them in order to promote emotional well-being and developmental mastery?

In Kevin’s case, the teachers and I made a visual chart picturing the four behaviors that were most problematic for him and his classmates: hitting, kicking, throwing toys, and knocking over furniture. The chart had a photo at the top with Kevin smiling and a header that said “I have safe hands and feet!” Below that, there was a stop sign next to each picture of the behaviors we were targeting.

Once the chart was introduced and we were sure Kevin understood what it meant (an important piece of the puzzle since he appeared to have some challenges in language processing), Kevin’s teachers responded to each incidence of the four unsafe behaviors in the same way – by taking Kevin’s hand and removing him quickly from wherever he was. The plan was to give him a brief and firm reminder (“We use safe hands Kevin!”) followed by a short period in which his teacher would continue to hold his hand without talking further about what had just happened. If Kevin responded to such a removal with hitting or kicking either teacher, they brought him to a newly cleared out and pillow-filled “safe space” where one of them stayed with him –  though not so close that they he could hurt them – until he calmed down.

The safety plan didn’t end there however. After Kevin regained composure during some hand-holding or in the safe space, the teacher involved would warmly invite him back into the classroom’s activities. Then she would sit with him to support him as he tried playing or interacting with his classmates. Was this a time-out plan? Yes, in part it was. But it had some of the quality that the “Responsive Classroom Approach” emphasizes: Kevin was removed not to punish him but as one way to help him start learning the skills of self-control and self-soothing.

In addition,  it’s important to note that coupled with Kevin’s safety plan was a huge emphasis on warm connection and “scaffolding for skill” – the latter involving many moments when teachers would sit with Kevin and help him make his needs known using language rather than frustrated gestures, and join him in learning to play and interact with others successfully.  In fact, the reasoning behind the time-out plan was to reduce unsafe behavior so that teachers could give Kevin the help he needed – not to be the “be all and end all” as an approach.  

And what about Maya?  What “tweaking” was needed in patterns at home in order to help Maya cope differently? And what was the role of a more flexible approach to parenting in helping this girl make the strides her mother Nicole yearned to see?

Nicole was an eager partner as we worked to figure out what would help Maya manage herself differently through periods of frustration – not just helping Maya find things to do other than kicking and hitting, but helping her learn how to have milder reactions to small problems in the first place. Eventually, although connectedness stayed at the heart of Nicole’s way of being a mom, she worked on finding a more convincing “voice of authority” that she could use from time to time. And she added in some mild consequences to back up the expectations she wanted to set with more effectiveness.

Nicole let Maya know that hitting and kicking had to stop and worked to convey that idea forcefully without being harsh. She made it clear that she fully believed Maya could learn other ways to be mad. She told Maya that if she did hit or kick, she would need to leave her mother’s side for a short while.  In short: if you do this, then that will happen. And it did.

Nicole also started to “cap” some of the feelings-filled discussions about Maya’s responses to seemingly small stresses. She realized that in her effort to stay connected to her daughter, she’d lost her sense of when to spend a lot of time on something and when to help Nicole roll with the punches. After a while, for example, the fact that they’d run out of the cereal Maya loved and that she’d have to have something else for breakfast led to a far shorter back-and-forth than it would have previously. Then Nicole would gently but firmly set out her expectation that Maya figure out how to handle her disappointment without further discussion. And so on. Within weeks, Nicole felt that Maya was handling herself with a lot less fuss and a lot more flexibility at home. She was especially delighted that kicking and hitting were becoming rare events. Nicole and Maya were on their way to a much easier yet equally loving life together at home.

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Kevin ended his Pre-K year far readier for kindergarten than his teachers and parents had imagined he’d be at the point in October when Sam’s castle was destroyed, his feelings were hurt, and his arm was aching from Kevin’s well-placed punch. Maya made a lot of progress too, in a way that made a big difference to the quality of her and her mother’s time at home. An approach that was both child-friendly and child-specific made all the difference in both cases. Kevin’s teachers needed to bend in a direction that wasn’t their first inclination but which turned out to be very useful. Maya’s mother needed to bend a bit as well. Learning to honor our universal beliefs and yet consider what a particular child may need isn’t always easy – especially when the ideas we’re considering go against the direction in which our field’s pendulum is currently swinging. But it’s worth doing. For some kids never. For some kids sometimes. For some kids all the time for a short time. 

RESOURCES

Books:

  • Bailey, Becky (2011) Creating the School Family: Bully-Proofing Classrooms through Emotional Intelligence. Loving Guidance, Inc.
  • Bilmes, Jenna (2012) Beyond Behavior Management: The Six Life Skills Children Need.  Redleaf Press
  • Greene, Ross (2008) Lost at School:  Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and how We Can Help Them.  Scribner Books
  • Hawn Foundation (2011) The MindUP Curriculum: Brain-Focused Strategies for Learning and Living. Scholastic Teaching Resources
  • Hirschland, Deborah (2015) When Young Children Need Help:  Understanding and Addressing Emotional, Behavioral, and Developmental Challenges. Redleaf Press
  • Kohn, Alfie (1999) Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes. Mariner Books
  • Minahan, Jessica and Rappaport, Nancy (2013) The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students. Harvard Education Press
  • Siegel, Daniel and Payne Brison, Tina (2011) The Whole Brain Child: Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. Delacorte Press
  • Sniel, Elaine. (2013) Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents). Shambhala

Websites:

Deborah Hirschland
Website: http://www.deborahhirschland.com/ 

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Please share/retweet this post! Let us know that you’re participating in this study. We’d love to hear from you about your thoughts regarding Chapters 27 & 28 and the commentary that Deborah has provided. Your voice matters – participate in the dialogue and share your ideas here! (Comment below) If you’ve chosen to blog about what you’ve read on your own site, link back and share your post with us here. Perhaps you have a burning question about something that you read in one of these chapters… we have a feature for that – Ask The Author! That’s right, Rae Pica will be available throughout this live study to answer your questions. #AskAuthor

You did it! You’ve completed our first blog book study – congratulations! Stay tuned as we’ll be concluding this study and announcing our next book study next week! 

*Please note that the next book study will be hosted on my new site http://enhancingyoungminds.com/

**If you’re a MN participant seeking training hours, please visit this link to access to requirements.

48 Responses to Bribes and Threats Work, But…Book Study Expert Commentary for Chapters 27 and 28 (Week 14)

  1. Rae Pica says:

    Wow, Deborah, what an amazing post. Thank you for taking the time to delve so thoroughly and thoughtfully into these topics. You’ve given the book study members quite a lot to consider! I personally will make good use of your idea about using four different sitting options! Love that and hadn’t heard of it before.

    Thank you!

  2. Deborah Hirschland says:

    Thanks so much for your appreciative comment Rae. These are such complex and interesting topics, and I’m glad you feel that my post added to the dialogue we all need to be having!

    By the way, offering kids “four ways of sitting” that they can move through whenever they need to isn’t my idea at all. I was in a classroom recently observing a couple of chlidren whose families wanted me to take a look at how they were doing at school, and had the opportunity to witness the work of an incredibly gifted teacher who was using this idea with a T-K classroom filled with very active youngsters. She had taught her group that there were four “healthy ways to sit” and that it was just fine to shift from one to the other when they were feeling a bit restless – as many times as they needed to. Each way of sitting had a name that her kids had come up with – from “criss-cross apple sauce” (the one we all know and use) to “french fries” (legs straight out front) to “twizzler” (legs out front but crossed) to “side salad” (legs off to the side in a V). As a result of having used this strategy through the fall, this teacher never needed to stop the group’s process to remind one of her kids to keep their hands off of another child or to stop wiggling or rolling around on the floor. (She had a lot of other ways to build movement into her group time as well.)

    When I asked this teacher whether the “four ways of sitting” was her idea or whether she had learned it somewhere, she said that she had learned this technique at a workshop but couldn’t remember who the instructor had been… so if there is someone reading this post who knows where this idea came from, I’d love to know too! In any event, as part of a workshop I ran on “working with the wiggly ones,” I brought this idea down to the NAEYC national conference last week and people were very excited about it there too. In fact, I’ve been bringing it wherever I go because it makes so much sense! We all need to find ways to be “proactive rather than reactive” in helping kids with the behaviors they’re using to solve problems they’re having (not to make problems) and, especially, to find ways to help our most active children feel warmly welcomed into our programs.

    There’s lots more to think about and talk about for sure. But mostly I want to thank you Rae for writing such a worthwhile and thought-provoking book. I’ve read it from cover to cover and learned a lot. I’m sure members of the book study project would agree. With appreciation – Deborah

  3. Rae Pica says:

    Thanks for expanding on this, Deborah!

    By the way, “Working with the Wiggly Ones” is a GREAT presentation title. Wish I’d thought of it! : )

  4. Jen Nagorski says:

    Thanks Deborah for this great post–I really appreciated that you used very detailed examples as it helped me understand this issue more clearly. I think this is a great way to wrap up our book study as the main point you make about time outs and rewards really is pertinent to all work we do with kids: “For some kids, never. For some kids, sometimes. For some kids, all the time for a short time.” This sentiment really speaks to the idea that we need to meet kids where they are at and approach working with them in ways that meet their unique skills and needs. With all of the topics we have covered, none have been black or white issues with simple answers. And that truly is the reason we need to continue to learn about and educate others about the complexities of child development.

  5. Deborah Hirschland says:

    I’m so glad you found the post to be thought-provoking and useful Jen. And yes, this important endeavor of carefully considering what kind of help and support particular kids need to grow and thrive is endlessly interesting and complex! It sounds like the book study has helped frame some of the questions for you… and offered pathways to some answers as well. That’s wonderful to hear. And your commitment to ongoing learning is wonderful to hear about too.

  6. Jane says:

    Rae
    Thank you for your insight, encouragement and inspiration to help us think carefully about what and why we teach and how we interact with preschoolers. Your book has been very helpful. You have stimulated our thoughts, helped us evaluate, prioritize and discuss the practicality of implementing changes in our approach.
    Deborah
    Your reminder that our pleasure and interest in a child’s presence and efforts is effective. Children grow in their skills of self regulation as we allow them to practice while we are coaching. Preschool teachers can guide children to respect each other. We want to help them learn to see the world from another’s perspective. Teachers can call out character traits like generosity, kindness, and admiration towards others.

  7. Deborah Hirschland says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful comment Jane! It’s great to sense how deeply and seriously book study participants have delved into the many content areas Rae’s book explores. And thanks Dawn for getting this book study rolling – it’s a wonderful idea and so useful as a way of diving into the kinds of issues we all need to consider.

  8. Rae Pica says:

    Thank you, Jane. Your kind words mean a great deal to me.

  9. Sarah Fritsch says:

    Thank you, Thank you Deborah! I have just started home visiting two families one situation is like your Kevin and one is your Maya. Giving dignity to the child in each situation is so important and to know that, just like Jen quoted “For some kids, never For some kids, sometimes,For some kids, all the time for a short time.” Thank you also for the great resource list. Dr. Becky Bailey has such great info and techniques to share. I use a lot of her songs and breathing visuals with my families.

  10. Deborah Hirschland says:

    Sarah – Thanks for this thoughtful comment. I’m so pleased that you found the blog post useful as you think about your work with these kids. Yes, “giving dignity,” as you so aptly put it, is hugely important as we approach each child and each family or classroom setting with curiosity and openness. And each child and family is different one from the other. So that whether we’re a teacher, a home visitor, or an early childhood consultant like me, our job is to think carefully and in child-specific ways about what’s going on and what might be needed to move things forward. It can be such important and hope-filled work!

    I’m sure you have lots on your plate reading-wise, but if you’re interested in this idea of “unpacking” what’s going on for each child and family you encounter before you jump in to the intervention phase of your work, my new book “When Young Children Need Help” is filled with stories just like those I wrote about Kevin and Maya. My hope in writing the book was that each story (and the strategies that emerge out of the thinking done about the kids in question) would resonate with readers and help them think in fresh ways about how to help the worrisome kids they encounter each day. You can read more about “When Young Childrern Need Help” on the books page of my website (http://www.deborahhirschland.com/books.html), and then if it sounds like it might be of interest as you make your way doing the important work of supporting kids and families, there’s a link to its listing on Amazon. And of course whether or not you get interested in my recent book, Becky Bailey’s work – which it sounds like you’re very familiar with – is an amazing resource for all of us. . With best wishes – Deborah

  11. Sarah Fritsch says:

    Thank you Deborah! That will be my Xmas break book to read:)

  12. Dianne says:

    Thank you for your incite and thought provoking topics that were presented in the book as well as the blog posts. I enjoyed reading them. They have really made me rethink a lot of different things and see some of these issues from a different perspective that I may never have though of. I will be doing a lot of thinking as to ways I can change my interactions with some of the preschoolers that I have that are a little more of a challenge. I am always trying different ideas to figure out what will work best for each individual child.

  13. Kim Woehl says:

    I have long worked with children who many would consider challenging. They simply do not fit into the boxes. They are unable to line up, and to patiently wait. What I find so challenging is that many times we look to children who we see as challenging and we think something is wrong with the child with little regard to what I (the caregiver), might be doing wrong.

    When did we decide for example, that children need to sit, criss cross applesauce while listening to a story or as part of circle time? Why can’t a child sit in a box, or on a throw pillow? Why can’t this child sit quietly playing with blocks or a puzzle as they listen, away from the group. When we think about how children learn we know that children learn through many life experiences. It is what they learn that I tend to want to focus on.

    If this child learns that they can’t sit still, that they sometimes have a hard time listening, that clean up is hard when we are still very engaged in this activity, we learn that we cannot be successful, we are bad or perhaps naughty. My caregiver becomes frustrated with me too and as a result my self esteem drops.

    Rewards systems can work, but only on the very short term. Time outs are a thing of the past. As far as I am concerned we must learn who this child is and how we can best support this child. How will we maintain this child’s self esteem? How will we help this child to see his/her own potential?

    I so many times draw a horizontal line when I teach. At the right side I circle the end and remind students that so often we get stuck here on the consequence and what is wrong with the child instead of going to the other end. (Yes, I circle it too). It is here that we observe and search for the why. Why is this child acting or reacting in the way that they are and, and its a big one, what can I do to support this child?

    Many focus on the group as a whole and so sees those around the edges as a problem when in fact they may be typical too, but I have not done my role in helping all children to be successful. How again, will I support this child’s self-esteem? How will I help this child to enter play, feel a part of the group and to be successful?

  14. Heather Q says:

    http://hqtoddlers.blogspot.com/2016/06/can-i-help-you-be-successful-today.html

    I like the commentary and that we just need to remember that there are no hard and fast rules. Every child is different and comes from different circumstances and we need to be able to adapt and change the plan to help every child be successful every day!

  15. Diana M says:

    These were very useful chapters to me in that I had an extremely challenging pre-k class this year with several children who had issues managing their emotions and lagging out at other kids and teachers physically. I agree with the commentary in that we have a variety of strategies to choose from and that some will work for some kids and others won’t. I had one little girl who would instantly lash out at a friend if things didn’t go her way. Talking to her in the moment did nothing because she was clearly still distressed and upset so we found that removing her from the situation for awhile and then going back to talk to her after she had time to herself calm down was more effective. I do agree with Rae’s point that the mere name of “timeout” isn’t helpful to children. We have “calm down” areas that children can go to on their own if they feel like they can’t handle their emotions in the moment. Again, no one system is perfect, and we have had a lot of trial and error.

  16. Cindy Kish says:

    I agree no one system will work for every child. It takes time and patience on our part to find what will work for each child. We also have to spend time and talk with them and/or parents to see if there have been any changes for the problem child. The child’s problems may not even be caused by the current environment but one at home, or another place. I had one boy who started with me in December, (2 years old), he would hit, knock over things, yell and fight. He even scream when we said it was time for a diaper change. I took some time and patience but he is a part of our daycare now and works and shares with others. His parents moved him because they were having a second child and their current daycare home didn’t have room for the baby. Within a week he started to come instead of hide for diaper changes. We did find out that one boy liked to hit him all day at the old daycare. We may ever find out all that happened to this loving little boy at the other daycare but thankfully he is a great addition to our childcare here. His parents even said at the three month conference it was like a different little boy at home too. He still has his days just like all children do but he likes to help, play and join the other children now.

  17. Rachel D says:

    What a great guest post. It is so nice to have some real word examples of how children require different plans of action. No one size fits all for how to interact and scaffold children in our care. As I read more and study more about early childhood I am taking time to reflect on who I am as a teacher and what strategies I may need to incorporate in my classroom. Reading these last two chapters have really made me take time to consider why I am using time-outs. I hope to find a balance where I can support the child accomplish what they would like and also have the classroom be and safe and educational environment.

  18. Rae Pica says:

    Rachel D, thank you! Your comment was just what the doctor ordered today!

  19. Kelsie Brandl says:

    “For some kids never. For some kids sometimes. For some kids all the time for a short time.”
    I’ve found that the center I work for has used reward systems for some of our more intense children. But it didn’t prove to be enough for these children. They ended up being removed from the center. In another reading I’ve encountered, that was necessary. They weren’t equipped enough to care for one child while putting the rest in danger. Have you ever come to that conclusion? But is that what is best for that child? The violence never stopped, they would bolt from a teacher, even opening doors to get away. More time was focused on the struggling child than the rest. I’m definitely thankful for those in your profession! It’s exhausting just seeing it and not being able to fix it. Good read! Thank you.

  20. Samantha Miller says:

    Both of these chapters are something I strongly believe in. I came into a classroom that was completely based on prizes and bribes. I slowly weaned these children off of relying on them. This was a process but I know find my class a lot easier to handle. Less behaviors are present and I can tell we have a healthier happier classroom. My children also don’t take breaks. If I feel they are having a hard time together we walk away and have time together. We talk about what’s going on or comfort if that’s what is needed. Sometimes We have special time to calm down and listen to books on tape or some other activity that will help them feel better. By us changing the way the classroom runs we all have a better respect for each other and enjoy our day more fully.

  21. Freda says:

    I am a big fan of encouraging positive behaviors in children but I do not condone to giving rewards for every time a child does something good. I think rewards should be offered but not every time. Once a child is used to getting rewards it is a habit that would be hard to stop. Also not a big fan of punishment. When a child does something wrong, most times they did because they don’t know better. Helping them understand what they have done wrong, how that may affected the people around them and how they would have done things a different way, is the best approach to a situation in my case. I am from a family where we as children never got any harsh punishment and we never got in trouble at school as our parents did the best in correcting us at home before we were old enough to know better to not act out in school. That is an upbringing I’ll never forget.

  22. Nikki Shapiro says:

    Deborah your post was very interesting. And the chapters in the book bring up some good points about time out. My policy in childcare is redirect, change activities, ask questions and sometimes allow for thinking time or a break. For example, I had a 3 year old boy in my program. He was delightful and full of energy. But really struggled with any kind of self soothing skills. A tantrum could last longer than an hour – even with changing the environment, helping him cope, talking or comforting. After many questions from mom, I learned that at home he still uses his paci all of the time and that at night he was drinking upwards of 28 – 36 ounces of milk per night from a bottle. In childcare the children drink from sippee cups and he never once had a paci. So no wonder he had no self soothing skills. After working with the Center for Inclusive Childcare and a few of my mentors, we all decided he would be a child that would succeed more in a center setting with children only his own age, because Mom would learn and see other 3 year olds and how those children were able to self soothe. She would have more time to talk with other parents and realize that she was not helping him learn skills by giving him a paci and multiple milk bottles at home. He is doing much better and mom has learned some skills to help her son without the use of bottles or a paci.

    Another example is a current 4 year old. He lives an extremely busy life – parents have him in hockey, baseball, going to the gym childcare after daycare, etc. Bedtime is not consistent and he often struggles in the mornings from being tired. He lashes out at other kids hitting, kicking or pushing them down. He and I worked together to come up with a box of things for him that he enjoys – some legos, books, animals, etc., and when he is feeling tired or needs alone time, he takes that box and a small rug to play by himself. This has been highly successful for him – he recognizes that he is tired and that he needs to play alone for a bit with some fun items. And it isn’t punishment. It is his choice and he is excited to be able to decide for himself.

    As early childhood educators, the more we can help set children up for success rather than for failure, the better the behavior will be from the child. It is important to have a plan that works for most kids, but be adaptable to those children that need a little something extra to make their day successful.

  23. Marcy Dragseth says:

    The topic on bribery. As I was reading this chapter it ran in my head all the times I used bribery to get the kids to do what I wanted. After reading this my effort will be offering more choices to avoid the bribery. Because we make many choices in life. If if we guide them to make good choices now. It will continue on as adults.

  24. Kelly North says:

    I think it is very important that we remember that all children are different and so “for some kids never, for some kids sometimes and for some kids all the time for a short time.!
    Reading the book ‘ What if Everybody Understood Child Development’ was a great read, I learned a lot and will be implementing some of it in my own Chilcare.

  25. Yi Ling (Ivy) Flanders says:

    I like the idea of make “choice” for motivation, something the kids can come to expect. Join in the activity makes kids even more excited. We also tell kids they can go to quiet area or book area to spend sometime by themselves as they needed. We have many different ways to communicate with kids when we see an issue happen, they might need help to re-direct. Good point on no timer into the process, it surely only invites power struggles.

  26. Kirsten Barie says:

    Hirschland says that we need to be careful not to deal in absolutes (always do this or never do that). All children are different. We had one little boy this past school year that was struggling with some special ed issues as far as controlng his emotions and his energy. His teachers had gone to a recent training workshop and had the idea of a real “toolbox” with items in it that the child could access to try can regulate his own emotions as they were escalating. Imagine a small pastic toolbox from a toystore filled with fidget type items. It wored fairly well for that situation. If those teachers had simply resorted to a time out every time the boy’s behavior got out of hand, he would not have learned how to rejoin the group or how to start to manage his own feelings.

  27. Steph Kallinen says:

    These chapters really made me realize how exhausting it is being an educator of young children! Just when you get one figured out someone else throws a wrench in your day or the one you thought you had figured out changes! And you need to figure out what works for each and every one. Whew! This is a struggle for a child care provider such as myself that works alone all day every day. Sometimes it is just not possible to spend one on one time with a child to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it because you have many other kids to care for too. I do use timeouts sparingly. Sometimes it is very necessary for the child to be separate from others (and me!) and calm down.

  28. Kathryn says:

    I know that people see time outs as an alternative means of discipline in place of spanking. But being a preschool teacher, I know for a fact that time outs are not always the best route to go. For some children, they just don’t work at all. I also know that threats and bribes don’t work either. I feel that by rewarding the children who are doing positive behaviors and drawing attention to the positives, it outweighs the negative behaviors. Children who are exhibiting negative behaviors will not be receiving the attention that they are trying to get. Also taking away something that is enjoyable to the child doesn’t work as well. I think that we need to be teaching our children, especially our children from birth to age 8, how to use coping skills and pro-social behaviors on how to get their needs met. If we do this, we could greatly reduce the number of disciplinary referrals and expulsions from a school environment.

  29. Samantha says:

    I am so in love with this chapter. My son does not go to time out. We do everyonce and awhile take a toy away from him. He has to throw the toy or the tablet in order for to take it away. My son use to be so behavioral. Mom worked full time and overtime working 80 hours a week and one day she gets 3 month off. Thankfully to my soon to be husband I was able to stay home 3 months with my son. I was working a home based still but my son got 1-1 time. Then mommy started daycare and he had to learn things. I had to realize that I was the one who had to teach him. Not get mad at him or send him to time to wonder why in the world he is there.

    I am sadden that I let a child go because I just could not handle him. I tried to teach him and time out or calm down time is what we called it. It had a pillow and a blankie, in case he wanted to nap. It would be peaceful for a few seconds until he woke. I tried to take trainings and I’m sadden to have let him go.

    With my son we also have a chore chart with 25 cents in each chore binder. It’s his choice how much he wants to do or not do. He earns money or not to earn money. He knows what that money does though. Buys moms flowers or a new toy for him.

  30. Shari Ernst says:

    Bribes and threats don’t work. Don’t I know. LOL We do have one main goal…to get the kids to do what we want. Easier said than done. I loved how I can relate to more of your topics in the book. With all the examples it makes me stop and think. They I can reflect back to see if what I am doing makes sense. I have gained so many great ideas from this book.

  31. Melissa D says:

    I have always hated the idea of a time out or a break or whatever else you want to call it BUT I used them as a tool when nothing else was working (which is hilarious because looking back these didn’t work either!). Eventually, I started to look into different ways to help “manage behaviors” and stumbled across “Love and Logic”. Nothing works for everyone all the time but I have had so much success with consistent use of the ideas from Love and Logic. Time outs don’t work but helping children talk about the what, why and what next in relation to their actions can work…it can also set the foundation for them being able to solve their problems without relying on me to have the final say.

  32. Karlee O says:

    Deborah’s writing was so important for my understanding of this segment. While reading the book I was getting upset thinking ‘yes these tactics aren’t ideal but sometimes they’re what work best for certain students.’ Through reading Deborah’s perspective I see that that’s the point. We should be assessing each child and each situation and not making blanket policies on how to discipline all students. We should take into consideration the best practices for discipline an what we want the child to learn from it. We also need to know how each child learns and experiences things. with all these factors we can implement the best way to help each child.

  33. Jill B says:

    I really like Deborah’s comment of no absolutes. Nothing is going to work 100% of the time for 100% of kids. I disagree that rewards and punishments should never be used. Positive reinforcement is a great thing for some kids. Choice is great, but in society, we don’t always have choices. In a daycare or classroom, choice isn’t always an option. There are rules and consequences for breaking those rules. We should carefully think about what rules and expectations we put in place and howwe enforce them. Use choice when possible and fits that particular child.

    I was quite surprised when my child came home from 1st grade and said he had to sit in the quiet chair. When I asked why, he said all the kids did so they knew what it was like. He went on to say one kid even puts himself there sometimes so he doesn’t get in trouble. What a great way to teach kids self skills. In my child care I offer things like a calm down bottle. It is a bottle with glitter and liquid in it. They can sit in a comfy chair and grab one of the sensory objects if they like and rejoin the group when they are ready and can be kind to others. This has been way more effective for me than trying to put kids in the corner or away from the group. However, like was mentioned in this chapter, sometimes that kid just needs to be held and comforted and I do so accordingly. When it is over, when age appropriate, we talk about what happened and how they felt before, after and what they thought helped them so they are developing skills as well.

  34. Amy Carter says:

    Chapter 27,28

    As a childcare provider and mother of 3 young children, this is a huge part of my day. I do not do time outs but instead do “calm downs.” And for most of them, I sit with the child. We talk about how to calm down and what has them frustrated and what we can do to make it less frustrating and what to do next time. It takes some time but works significantly better than a time out.

  35. Tasha Martin says:

    This subject is something I recently took a 3 credit hands on training in WI. Teaching us how to learn how to teach them right from wrong. Discipline is hard these days even more when it comes to learning. We cant discipline for doing something wrong we need to better train our selves how to teach them how to learn to do it the right way. I can sometimes get angry or upset because I feel this child should know this by now has seen or heard it over and over and either isn’t getting it or just doesn’t care. I have had to retrain myself how to correct the situation so at the end of all of it they get what they needed to learn. To much discipline can end up have a child act up more due to just giving up feeling like they just cant please whom ever they are trying to. We as adults have to retrain our selves to help our littles learn.

  36. Arissa Kordell says:

    Not every one child is the same just like no every one program is the same. Not every program will work for every child. Society is so fast to judge kids that are different. It’s easy to pick out the negative aspects of a child that is acting out and judge that child for being naughty or out of control. Then when parents can’t handle their child because their child might not follow the norm we deem something wrong with them and take them to the doctor to be medicated. We need to remember that sometimes kids can’t sit still and they need different tools to learn but that doesn’t mean we give up on them. We need to give them the chance to succeed by helping them with their differences.

  37. Laura says:

    There is not one specific thing that will work with all children… I have learned this as a childcare professional… I have used bribes, I will admit it, after reading this I will begin to offer more choices instead of the bribes.. Love the ideas of calm downs verse time outs…

  38. Kora says:

    Both of these chapters were interesting. I had never looked at bribes in that sense before. Bringing in the workplace made it more interesting. If we do a good job, then we get a raise. Not necessarily. Kids need to learn some responsibility without being bribed or threatened all of the time. This last chapter was interesting. I was spanked and turned out pretty good, in my opinion. But now that you can’t do that anymore, we do time outs. Which don’t really work in our house since the kids go right back to playing ect. So If they are really bad, not listening ect, I usually ground them from their favorite electronics or even all electronics. When their behavior/attitude has improved then they can have it back. It works for us and benefits them because then they can’t watch tv or play video games ect.

  39. Bobbie S says:

    We do a reward system, and kids get so many good days and we have a party! I have a well behaved group. For time outs when that stopped working I got creative, nothings says we can’t do stretches or sing the shake the sillies out song. I have learned that will majority of boys in my daycare and 2 out 3 that are boys of my own, that some times it is built up energy that needs a outlet. Some times it is we need to sit down cause we are tired. You learn the child and everything else falls into place but being creative is best way to stay sane when your a daycare provider!

  40. Susan J Allery says:

    This is a lot of information to absorb. I do not think there is a ready made answer to getting positive behaviors from children.

  41. Joni Helmeke says:

    It’s interesting how we try to get kids to cooperate- they DO after all have their own minds, agendas, ideas. It’s when those individual thoughts, impulses, ect. are disruptive or are counter to the authority figure’s that conflict happens. Case in point- the two year old throwing a tantrum over something seemingly insignificant, yet it’s important to them- their idea of independence or sense of ownership. I’ve observed “tantrums” in children of all ages, even adults, at times. Even with a good grasp of child development, though, it’s what to do with these emotions, this “out of control-ness”, these misbehaviors, that can be frustrating. How DO you get children, or a whole group of children, to listen? To learn? To cooperate? How Do you motivate people- especially little people? I appreciated these last chapters by Pia. I also appreciated the commentary and the fact that she cited Becky Bailey, whose work I have just learned about. They have some good things to share. Kids can see through bribes and threats, especially empty threats, and the kids who misbehave the most, Pica is right, are the ones who most need acceptance and guidance. I believe behavior guidance takes an intentional understanding of the child/ children you are trying to guide. What motivates them? What excites them? What is their behavior saying? What are they really asking for? Often in the case of my two year olds it’s a deep desire to be understood as their language skills are emerging and as well as a desire to do things themselves, though they aren’t always able to- who leads quickly to frustration. Teaching them means giving them language and being present in their frustration. I liked the line in chapter 28 of giving breaks before misbehavior when you see kids start to ramp up, instead of using separation after a misbehavior as punishment which can lead to feelings of rejection. I’ll keep that in mind and use it, when necessary as to why I prefer not to use time-outs.

  42. Terri VanHoudt says:

    Bribes, they always work awesome at first! Then they don’t, or the bribe has to get bigger and better. What are you teaching kids when you reward them for bad behavior or for not following orders. A reward for not doing as you asked?! You can tell a teenager that has been bribed as a child. They are the ones who have the privileged attitude. The what is in it for me, the Entitlement attitude. What is that parent doing for that child as he/she grows into a young adult. There is just so much disrespect in kids these days and kids that are so young. I have a child who is 3 that yells at his mom when she picks him up. I wouldn’t have dared to yell at my parent. I tell my kids (especially schoolagers) that i am 58 and i STILL do not talk back to my parents and talk with respect to all adults.
    I do believe time outs work when i child is so out of control that they cannot stop. i will put them in time out in the same room with us while we work on something else and will try and engage them on occasion to see if they want to talk.
    In my real young kids, i have tried to teach them sign language. We do please, water, No, yes, eat, more, all done. Those signs help to curve a lot of the frustration. It is not a cure all by no means, but it sure helps. I think time out, sign language, refocus, ideas to work out frustration safley are all items we need to have in our tool box. Every child is different and we always need to learn to tools as we go.

  43. Jessica Kabogoza says:

    These two chapters are definitely the ones I need to learn the most about. I try to be positive in discipline, but I sometimes don’t know what else to use besides time outs. I do think that children like to know what their boundaries are and that positive discipline and clear expectations are two things that can help them have the structure and boundaries they crave. I have struggled though with some of the kids that just can’t seem to follow what those are. I would be very interested in any resources that teach me better ways to positively create desired behavior and progress in children. I would love to create a more engaging environment and to help foster a rewarding and uplifting day for each child in my home.

  44. Liz says:

    The thought process child- specific and child -friendly inspired me to view things in a different light. Unfortunately there is not one right way for every child or caregiver. The idea to continue to learn and grow with your children is of greatest importance.

  45. Nallely says:

    Punishments, rewards, bribes and threats give us temporary complacency and “buy” obedience. They can change someone’s behavior in the very short term (in the here and now) and it is for this reason that we think they work but they cannot change the person. They do not make us feel good or that we are better people, rather they cause the opposite effect. I think that when a child has unwanted behavior instead of thinking, “This is what I am going to do to you”, we could say: “Something has gone wrong, what can we do?”. Using the power to do unpleasant things to someone is not a good or the best way to relate. It does not promote good values. Children feel very confused when people who are supposed to love them do unpleasant things.
    When children do not want to or cannot do what we ask them to do, maybe the problem is not in the child but in what we are asking for. When a child does not work hard enough, does not study enough, does not collect enough, does not eat enough, does not obey enough … perhaps he is being asked too much. In my opinion, they are just the flip side of the coin. If a child does something spontaneously, suppose, pick up something, order, help a brother … and I go and give him a prize for it, his action is no longer important and the importance falls on the prize. The emphasis is on the prize and not on the action. Although my intention is to encourage that desired behavior what I am really causing is the opposite. When there is no reward for that attitude, there will be no interest or reason to continue doing so. I mean, the child only sees that if he does this or that thing he receives money, candy, an outstanding or whatever. If one day there is no reward or reward, the behavior we are seeking to encourage with the reward will cease when we receive nothing in return. I have seen a parent or teacher reward their child or student for reading spontaneously. They did it with the best of intentions but what they provoked was the opposite. When there was no prize the child in question stopped reading. Something that the child chose to do voluntarily was discouraged because he wanted to motivate him with prizes or rewards. With punishments and rewards there are no long-term changes, either. When there is no punishment or reward they stop doing it or continue doing it respectively. As I said before, punish and reward only work very short term, in the here and now. In my opinion, the attention should not fall on my judgment of what the child does but on the action itself and for that what we can do is describe it (describe what I see, as Alfie Kohn very well explains). That does encourage self-esteem; making judgments makes them dependent on what others think or feel about what they do. In this way we think that we are motivating them to continue doing it but in reality the external motivation (with prizes) cancels the intrinsic motivation (the one that comes from inside the heart). I repeat, saying “very well” is to issue a judgment and does not describe or mean anything. When I say “you did it, you got it by yourself …” I’m giving you samples that I’ve realized and that I care. There is no intentionality or manipulation. In fact, many times, when they continue to do so, it is not for their personal satisfaction but to receive our approval samples. On the other hand, “punishment time” or “rest time” is not a punishment proper, but an opportunity for the child to learn to tolerate his frustration and to change his behavior. It is a period during which the child is alone with himself, so he tries to be alone and quiet for a moment. Any form of attention that you give him, positive or negative, will only serve to reinforce his bad behavior, I think it is the reflective moment for them.

  46. Laura Borchardt says:

    I found the example of Kevin in this blog post to be very helpful since we have a student currently struggling with similar issues. It can be so hard to know how to help children with their problems in the classroom. Every child and their behavior problem is a little different and requires different techniques. It can be so easy for teachers to have a blanket rule system where all the children know the rules and what the consequence is for that rule and that works with many children most of the time. There are however children in every class where these systems don’t seem to work and it can be very frustrating for teachers to work with these individuals. This is why it is so important to be in communication with the parents about these issues to see if it is a problem at home too. Collaboration with parents is the most important factor I have found when working with children. I like to observe natural consequences in my classroom as much as humanly possible but in some cases with so many children in one space this can become dangerous for other students and can sometimes affect the routine of the other students causing stress for the classroom. This is why we need to address these individual behavior problems right away in a healthy way that meet the individuals needs and will work for them in the long run.

  47. DeAnna Stowe says:

    Bribing a child creates many obstacles in parenting and teaching. What a child is learning when we bribe them is “what’s in it for me!” Bribing a child to much could also cause a child to act out in order for them to receive what they want. In the future this child may only do what is going to benefit him/her. When rewarding a child you are encouraging that child to complete the task in order to receive the reward. A child may then expect a reward after everything he/she does. I think i’ts important to honor their hard work through verbal praise occasionally. When verbal praise is given regularly a child will constantly seek it.

  48. Anna Patnode says:

    Week 14 – 8/24/18
    Reading – chapters 27 and 28

    I greatly enjoyed this weeks chapters and especially enjoyed the blog commentary by Deborah Hirschland. The following statement spoke greatly to me in my parenting and teaching. “For some kids, never.  For some kids, sometimes. For some kids, all the time for a short time.” I believe this is exactly how I’ve learned to operate being a mom of five and learning that each child is different, what worked for number one won’t work for two and is completely off base for three. This doesn’t even take into account gender or age, just strictly the inner differences each child shows. I think being prepared in this way, with my own children, has helped me to be even more flexible in my early childhood experiences.

    I do have a slight struggle with the complete absence of if/then statements. I have a good friend who parents without consequence ever and I struggle greatly with this. I believe everything in life has consequences (good/bad/indifferent) and children need to learn that. I’m not saying bribes and punishment is necessary to be linked with these statements but I see no problem in them being exposed to the fact that every choice has an outcome. Therefore in my home my children understand eating their food for dinner is a choice but if they do not this is the last meal of the night, no snack, or other option is presented to them. I don’t believe this is punishment but them simply learning this is how life works. This has in turn challenged my children to be more adventurous eaters, try new things, stay focused on the task (dinner), and allows for great family dinners every night. There is no threat or punishment for an unfinished plate or disinterest gets you nothing else. “If you don’t eat dinned, then you will be hungry.” Plain and simple.

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