Positive Classroom Behavior – Article #3

by admin on July 16, 2011

If Punishment Doesn’t Teach, What Does?

The character Junie B. Jones described the child’s perspective simply but accurately, “Punishment takes the friendly right out of you” (Parks, 1993). Punishment motivates behavior choices by using external consequences, while positive child guidance, motivates by an internal desire to do what is right. I like the way Dan Gartrell defines positive child guidance:

Guidance teaches children to learn from their mistakes, rather than punishing children for the mistakes they make.

Guidance teaches children to solve their problems, rather than punishing children for having problems they cannot solve.

Guidance means positive, active leadership; it is firm, but friendly teaching that helps children learn the life skills they need as citizens of democracy:

  • to express strong emotions peacefully
  • to cooperate with others
  • to compromise, negotiate, and resolve conflicts with others
  • to understand the feelings of others; and
  • to respect and accept others as worthwhile members of the classroom community.

Children need to hear, “We all make mistakes. The smart people, though, learn from their mistakes and don’t make the same mistake twice. When smart people make a poor choice, they learn what NOT to do and they make sure they do it better the next time.”

“You never make kids do better by making them feel worse”
(Boss, 1992)

Boss, B. (1992). When I say something about a kid and I know it’s right, I don’t compromise. Dimensions, 20(2), p.11.
Gartrell, D. (2000). Guidance: Shifting the paradigm from discipline. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, pp. 193-198.
Gartrell, D. (September, 1997). Beyond Discipline to Guidance. Young Children, pp. 34-42.
Parks, B. (1993). Junie B. Jones and her big fat mouth. NY: Random House

(c) Dr. Lynn Staley

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