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Behavior of children as it relates to discipline


Discipline as it relates to misbehavior in school has been a retorical question for a long time. Many questions have been raised, but very few answered. Does the lack of discipline have an effect on children in schools? Which/What type of discipline is more effective as it relates to African American/Caucasian children? Does "harsh" discipline mean the lack of love for a child? These questions, as well as others, have researchers and others trying to figure out whether to discipline children or not. Everyone would like to know all there is to know about the behavior of a child and/or how to make the child react in a school setting as well as at home. Researchers believe that everything that has to do with a child's behavior starts at home. Does this mean that peer pressure no longer exists? Since the beginning of time children have been misbehaving both at home and in the school setting. Does this mean that every child has a behavioral problem? In his paper the author will discuss the following: Types of discipline (home/school), Which methods of discipline are more effective, Parenting leadership, and Steps to better classroom discipline.

The views on discipline are controversial; some believe in sparing the rod some do not. Others believe that time outs and punishments are more effective. A study found that while tough discipline such as spanking can lead to behavioral problems in causasion children it is likely to lead to good behavior in African American children. This may be because Afro-American children link tough discipline with parental attention, whereas caucasian see it as hostility. "Parents are being led to believe, however, that whatever discipline problems they have with their children can be solved if they use better disciplinary techniques more consistently." (Rosemond, 1997.)

Thus, Parenting as it relates to leadership of a child is not so controversial. Parents sometimes confuse the difference between leadership and friendship. Children look to the parents for guidance and if the parent does not show that leadership, the child then begins to rely on himself for guidance. Parents must understand that the influence that they have on their child is everlasting, and proper guidance is essential to the child's growth process. Children must be made to realize that outrage is not free. Studies show that "A child who has been taught to pay attention to his parents can be disciplined relatively easily. A child who has not been taught to pay attention to his parents who is at the center of attention in his family cannot be disciplined, but just temporarily put in check." (Rosemond, 1997.) The effect of the lack of discipline at home; however, does not necessarily mean that the child's behavior at school will reflect the home behavior. It is then left up to the teacher/administrator to become the leading parent away from home.

There are several steps and techniques that a teacher can use to ensure proper classroom management of children that misbehave. The steps are as follows:

Step One: Reminder

This is a reminder not a reprimand. It may be directed to the entire class at once. The teacher does not need to approach the student when using this step.

Step Two: Warning

This is a reprimand. The student is approached. The warning may be verbal or written. Verbal warning should not be delivered across the classroom. Written warnings (infraction slips) are given to the student. The child is asked to fill in the information at the top and told that if no other problems occur he/she will be able to throw the slip away.

Step Three: Infraction slips

The student is approached again. She/he is reminded that she/he has already received his warning. An infraction slip will be turned into the office. If she/he has received a written warning, the slip is collected.

Step 4: Sent to office

The student is removed from class and sent to the office with a referral form.

These steps are very effective, but if you find that they are ineffective in your classroom you may want to consider the following techniques:

I. Focusing - Be sure you have the attention of everyone in your classroom before you start your lesson. Do not attempt to teach over chatter.

II. Direct Instruction - Begin each class by telling the students exactly what will be happening. Uncertainty increases the level of excitement in the classroom.

III. Monitoring - Circulate throughout the classroom while your students are working. Check on their progress.

IV. Modeling - "Students values are caught not taught". We must show them the way they are supposed to behave.

V. Non-Verbal Cueing/Proximity Control - Use hand signal/eye contact to alert the child of their misbehavior or move to the area of the room where the child resides.

VI. Assertive Discipline - This traditional limit setting authoritarianism. When executed it will include a good mix of praise. This is high profile discipline. Clear rules are laid out and consistently enforced.

VII. Assertive I-Messages - Is a component of Assertive Discipline, these I-Messages are statements that the teacher uses when confronting a student who is misbehaving. They are intended to be clear descriptions of what the student is supposed to do. The teacher who makes good use of this technique will focus the child's attention first and foremost on the behavior he wants, not on the misbehavior. "I want you to..." or "I need you to..." or "I expect you to...

VIII. Positive Discipline - Use classroom rules that describe the behaviors you want instead of listing things the students can not do.

The techniques listed above are some key steps to a disciplined classroom. There are some techniques, however, that should be avoided, such as:

I. Raising your voice.

II. Using tense body language; such as rigid posture or clenched hands.

III. Using degrading or embarrassing put-downs.

IV. Insisting on having the last word (tugowar)

V. Using physical force

VI. Having a double standard

VII. Generalizing

These things should be avoided. Studies show that these types of techniques make a child feel inferior and cause them to lash out.

The writer believes that good behavior begins at home. American parents have lost a grip on this commonsensical idea. Today's all-top typical parent works twice as hard at child rearing as did his and her parents and gets not even half the results. Thus, parents must first be a leader then become a friend to their child. The guidance of a child is very important and once it is lost it is hard, if not impossible, to get back. The lack of discipline in itself makes it hard on the child's teacher. Yes, the methods are proven effective, but will be even more effective if the parents get involved with the discipline of their children and make a difference.


Kaufman, Daniel. Notes from Hell: the public schools need discipline and respect for learning.

That's all. National Review 30 Sept.1996: V48 n18 p46(2).

Rosemond, John. If family revolves around children, not even strict discipline will work.

Knight-Ridden/Tribune News Service. 19 Aug. 1997: p819k1263.

Rosemond, John. To get good behavior parents must demand it. Knight-Ridden/Tribune News

Service. 9 Dec. 1997: p120k7971.

"Study reveals black and white children react differently to harsh discipline." Jet 23 Dec. 1996:


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