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Teachers: Discover How To End Your Classroom Management Nightmare Now

By Ruth Wells

The top question we get at Live Expert Help at our web site is "How do I get kids to behave?" Often, that teacher or counselor is looking for new discipline methods that will better engender appropriate behavior in their setting. Often, that teacher or counselor does not like our answer.

Our answer is that discipline and consequences are often ineffective. Yes, every school or agency needs both, but alone, they don't work. Alone? Yes, if you have a discipline and consequence structure set up, but have not first taught your students the skills, motivation and attitudes that they need to perform the desired behaviors, you will almost certainly find your discipline is ineffective.

Children and youth often can not do specific behaviors that they were never taught. Further, those youngsters who have bad attitudes and no motivation may have no interest in performing to your satisfaction. Yet, teaching students to have the desired skills, motivation and attitude is almost universally over-looked at most sites. If you want to remedy that oversight, here are the essential elements that must preface or accompany your discipline and consequences:

Got Skills?

Years ago, families taught their offspring the basic skills required in school and other settings. Now, many students have never been taught the necessary nuts-and-bolts behaviors that are essential to functioning. They may see bad behavior at home and bring it with them to your site. That's why many youth seem to have no sense of acceptable anger control, verbiage, or personal space and distance. Set up any discipline and consequences you want, but if the child lacks the key skills to comply, discipline can't make much difference.

Got Motivation?

If a child believes that your service is unimportant, their behavior is likely to reflect that belief. Children once learned at home about the value of school or your service. If contemporary students don't learn that at home, and you don't teach it at your site, the child's behavior may reflect their contempt despite any disciplinary efforts.

Got Attitude?

If a child has a negative attitude about your site, that's likely to be reflected in problematic conduct. Discipline usually can't compel a child to change, but adjusting the child's attitude to be more positive, can create results that by comparison, seem almost magical.

Want Discipline? Teach Skills-- and Attitudes and Motivation

Stop looking for the right consequence or discipline structure, and focus on building skills, motivation and attitude. All the consequences in the world can't compel a child to do behavior they lack the skills, attitude and motivation to do. But skills may be the most important of the three. There are so many skills to teach, here's a few to start with:

Show Up

You work no magic on an absent student. Attendance may be the single most important skill that most schools and agencies never teach. Worse, if a student doesn't show up, and is suspended, does that assist the child to improve their attendance? What works infinitely better: Teach the child the attendance skills they need, then perhaps they'll have the skills to improve. Without skills, suspension or other discipline can't overcome the fact that the child hasn't set their alarm, or doesn't know where their bus pass is.

Listen Up

If you can't communicate with the child, how can you provide your service? Teaching children to have "ears on teacher" (or counselor, foster parent, etc.) is a basic concept that many sites have forgotten to teach children. Discipline can't turn back the clock and compensate for the reality that the child never heard you in the first place.

Look Up

If the eyes are elsewhere, you may find it hard to communicate. "Eyes on teacher" should be universally taught, but is not. If the eyes aren't tracking, sanctions won't remedy that on-going gap in skills, but skill-building can.

Other Key Initial Skills to Teach First Anger control, and properly managing fists, legs, arms, mouth, actions.

Don't Forget Motivation and Attitude Would you like some great motivation-makers? There are some examples at our site.

Get free sample materials, 100s of free interventions, and our free Problem Student Problem-Solver magazine at our site, Plus, you can find your solution to your worst student problems. We also have surprisingly different, must-see posters, books, instant ebooks, audio books, workshops and free Live Expert Help. For further information on this article or Youth Change's top-rated resources, call 1-800-545-5736.

About The Author
Ruth Wells MS is the director of Youth Change; click here: Get free samples and see 100s more of her problem-stopping interventions at Youth Change's web site. Ruth is the author of dozens of books and ebooks, and conducts professional development workshops.

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