Learning natural consequences the key
Focusing on effective consequences for challenging behaviours was the topic of Dr Becky Bailey’s workshop at the National Association for the Education of Young Children recently.
Author, teacher and expert Dr Becky Bailey held the workshop in Los Angeles earlier this month and outlined her program called Conscious Discipline.
Goodstart’s national inclusive practices consultant Troy Dunn attended the session and said the key message was that as adults we often repeat behaviours even when there are consequences that are not always pleasant.
“For example, drinking too much and then having to deal with a hangover the next morning,” Mr Dunn said.
“However, when it comes to children and their behaviours we often deliver consequences, expecting them to learn and change their behaviour quickly.”
He said the message was that this was unrealistic.
“As educators (and parents) we must reflect on how we approach children’s behaviour and our own expectations. Do we want children to learn new skills or is it that we want them to feel bad about themselves and behaviour?”
Mr Dunn said Dr Bailey’s message was that children often learn from what their parents and educators do, and not from what they tell or enforce them to do.
Her model talks about the importance of parents becoming conscious of hurtful patterns, and showing a willingness to change those patterns. On her website, she explains that self-regulation, or managing our own thoughts, feelings and actions, is the cornerstone to a successful life.
Mr Dunn said the learnings reaffirmed the direction in which Goodstart Early Learning was already going.
“For me the session was about looking at consequences in different ways and ensuring consequences aren’t delivered as punishment. We often say ‘I’ll take the ipad off you’ but this isn’t a consequence, it’s a punishment,” Mr Dunn said.
“What we need to do is encourage children to look more closely at their behaviour and consider their decisions based on the consequences”.
He said Dr Bailey talks about natural consequences versus the logical consequence. Natural consequences follow from a child’s behaviour without requiring enforcement on the part of the parents.
An example of a natural consequence is if a child has been asked to come to the kitchen. If they don’t come when asked, they don’t get to eat the snack that has been prepared for them. A logical consequence is something that is imposed that is related directly to the behaviour that is being discouraged. For example, a child may refuse to share her dolls with a playmate, so that she loses access to the dolls’ hours for 15 minutes.
This type of discipline reduces verbal punishment and increases a child's ability to identify acceptable and unacceptable behaviours.
“It ends up being a decision the child has to make and most children will learn from this pretty quickly.”