August -, '05
[Gentle reader, please note that the following is an excerpt from my private journal. All names have been changed for the sake of privacy and respect.]
[...] It was last week, I think it was Tuesday, when the issue with J- and the others suddenly clarified itself. The lead teacher in the Infants room at center no. 5 summarized it all saying:
"We're not supposed to dicipline. That's the parent's job. We just tell the kids what they're supposed to do. If they don't listen, they don't listen."
I resisted the powerful urge to shake the woman and scream "What's WRONG with you!?!" Why do these people feel that there's no place for dicipline in the development of a child or their well-being? Perhaps it is because they assume dicipline is the same as punishment; I honestly have no idea and no desire to find out.
From the little I have seen, children need a structured environment to operate in to become healthy young adults. Basically, the ordered environment provides a subtle set of instructions that are eventually absorbed as a part of the bheavior set. Now, as children grow and develop, there will be changes to how that environment is structured.
With cognitive growth, they will challenge te structure to understand it and to find their optimal method of working with the world. this is where self-monitoring and self-dicipline develops. It is a natural outgrowth from the dicipline provided. In part, it is a habit. Habits are powerful things. In part, the children will learn why the structure operates the way it doees and asslimlate elementes of it. Kids in places with out structure will not develop the self-monitoring skills or self-dicipline. The will run wild, socially be inept, and act highly impulsive. These children will throw tempertantrums at the drop of a hat, especially if they don't get what they want.
The will try to use "might makes right" logic or to use "everybody's doing it" to justify their actions. They have a high propensity to act out and be disruptive. These are the main reasons why so many of these kids are diagnosed as ADD or ADHD whey they are not. The surface symptoms of an undiciplined child closely resembles those of these disorders. The trick is what is their attention span. Kids with ADD or ADHD generally have short attention spans and need alot of guidance to stay on task. Undiciplined children have reasonably average attention spans.
Their problem is they lack the skills to remain on task. To a degree, the techniques used for addressing these problems are the same, or so I've found. "Chunking" information and breaking tasks down into smaller steps seem to work well with any child. Using reminders and giving praise for successful self-monitoring also seems to work well for any child. Mainly, I've found the greatest success in giving one-on-one direction to these children. By keeping them actively engaged virtually every problem I've had with ADD, ADHD, and undiciplined children is resolved.
The challenge is to stay active enough. It's hard to keep on your toes with roughly 15 kids all day.