NUMBER 599• 27 SEPTEMBER • DISCIPLINE
Although learning has intrinsic rewards, giving up familiar and comfortable behaviours and replacing them with new ones represents a major change, and children, like most of us, are likely to resist efforts to change. It is important to understand discipline in this context so that we do not become discouraged or disheartened or tempted to refer to old ways of intervening when our new approach doesn’t yield immediate results. Change, if it is to last, most often occurs gradually, step by step, and will often be barely perceptible. For this reason, we must be committed to the "rightness" of the process and goal, and thus be willing to persist when the learning is as slow as’ learning often is. It is helpful to keep in mind how long the old behaviours have been in place and how they were learned during long years in unhealthy/disturbed environments before coming to us. Krueger (1980) reminds us that we need to care enough to show our children and young people that they have the potential to change. He goes on to remind us that "we seek to create an environment where all the participants — children and staff — are interdependent, care about one another and are willing to challenge, support and aid each other in the process of growth and change". Change is also the desired outcome of punishment, as Redl (1980) reminds us that "the use of punishment implies an attempt to produce an experience for the child which is unpleasant based on the assumption that sometimes the affliction of an unpleasant experience may mobilise ‘something’ in a child which, without such a ‘boost from without’, would not have occurred", The prompting for a change in behaviour, sought by the imposition of either discipline or punishment, will most often be considered as unpleasant by the child. The ingredient that distinguishes between discipline and punishment will be the motive of the adult who structures the consequence.
Fox, L. Teachers or Taunters: The Dilemma of True Discipline for Direct Care Workers with Children. In Readings in Child and Youth Care for South African Students: 1. Cape Town: National Association of Child Care Workers 48
Krueger, M. A. Intervention Techniques far Child Care Workers. Tall Publishing Inc., Milwaukee, WI, 1980.
Redl, F. The concept of punishment. Conflict in the Classroom: The education of emotionally disturbed children Fourth Edition, Wadsworth Publishing Co., Belmont, MA, 1980.