I was raised with the “shame and blame” type of discipline. It was the prevalent form of punishment in my school and neighborhood. However, my parents used the sharp switch method which I preferred. I do not believe the ‘shame and blame’ is effective in the short or long term. Why? Because it causes damage to the student’s self esteem and concept. It does more damage than good. I can now remember when I was playing with my friend Nancy at a neighbor’s house, and the neighbor looked at me and said, “Why can’t you be like Nancy”? I kept wondering what I had done to cause such a negative comment. The comment was meant to cause me shame, but I did not know what I had done that cause me shame. The comment was not constructive because it just caused me to feel badly about myself, but the man did not explain what his problem was and so I was left just feeling badly about the neighbor. I used to work with Learning Disabled and Emotionally Handicapped Students, and I found that their own self confidence was very low and to try and shame them only added to their insecurities and their acting out behaviors. I used positive reinforcement and praise when the student did anything that was commendable. I found that the students were very quick to learn that good behavior would be rewarded and their bad behaviors would be ignored. Many of my students were misbehaving just to get attention, and so when they were ignored; they did not receive the reward of attention. I learned that many of the students had never been taught the basics of their own identities. For example, even when they were older; they did not know their own address, state, and information that they would need on an employment application. I started to teach them their own personal information that they had never been taught at home or in the school. Many 5th graders do not know their own personal information, their state information and their country’s basic statistics. This knowledge made my students feel more secure and better about themselves. I also learned that even 5th graders did not know the correct way to behave in any given situation. No parent or teacher had never taught them the basics of polite and courteous actions. I found that these students were so glad to learn these basics. Knowing how to act in any given situation is very empowering to an individual and especially to those who have been categorized as needing special education. I asked my students about many different scenarios and what they would do in each situation. I found that they had no clue as to what to do, i.e. when they accidentally pushed or touched another student. They learned to say, “Excuse me”, and they learned that those two simple words stopped many altercations in the classroom and at recess. They learned about the power words of please and thank you. They learned the little words that would bring them success in life. They were becoming more and more akin to good little citizens instead of the rude and wild little creature that they had been at the beginning of the year. Children love to learn when they know it will benefit them in their lives, among their peers and in their future workplaces. No matter if a student is in the regular classroom or in a special education classroom; these principles work with everyone. The student’s ego is very fragile if that student does not have the needed affirmation and support from their parents. A student that has understanding parents and teachers is at a great advantage over those who do not. Parents and teachers, please take advantage of the time that you have with your children and your students. Student love to learn very practical lessons. Students gain tremendous confidence when they know how to act in every type of situation, i.e. the classroom, the restaurant, traveling, and visiting friends and family. They want to know what to say, what to do, and how to do it so that they do not feel uncertain. I know when I study how to eat properly at an eight course dinner party; I feel more confident, and I enjoy myself much more. It is the same with the students who are just learning many things for the first time. All in all, even if your students or children behave like little barbarians; it is not really their fault. Shaming them and blaming them is not going to produce any good result because their bad behaviors are all they know. They never had an adult who cared enough about them to teach them the right behavior and the right way to succeed in their lives. Student tend to copy their parents and peers until they are taught in all the areas of correct behaviors. Most parents are so busy just making a living and doing their daily required tasks to even think about teaching their children the basics of right and wrong behaviors. My students loved the little skits that we performed in my classroom to demonstrate the “correct” way to handle common problems and situations. Many students were labeled as having behavior disorders were really just students who did not know the proper or correct way to handles life events and daily routines. I know these three methods work: 1.) Orienting the student with their own personal information, their surrounding area facts and proceeding to information that they feel is important to learn. 2.) Using fun games to learn how to behave in given situations. 3.) Using skits to act out the correct behaviors. Positive reinforcement and positive teaching bring very positive and extraordinary results.
Margaret (Peggy) Kannaday
707 Torrey Pines Lane Fort Mill, SC 29715
803 500 1267. — Draft