Can I soapbox for a moment? I just got an email from a frustrated mom whose 1st grader is being punished at school for a mild altercation. The punishment is losing recess. While far worse punishments happen in schools everyday all over the world, this kind of punishment of a 1st grader shows us how much work there is to be done to help all of us at least consider archaic ways of thinking about discipline. As I was responding to her, I decided to share my response to her with y'all because I know so many of you are fighting these battles at your own kids' schools. This is what I wrote:
"Recess is a need, and to me it’s not that different from not allowing a child to eat lunch. Removal of recess also often leads to more behavioral problems because it doesn’t allow the child the opportunity to move their bodies, which regulates their nervous system and emotions. It’s also important to argue that the play that happens during recess, with the problem solving and social navigation, etc. is just as much learning and part of education as is the curriculum.
More than taking away his recess, the problem is how the school is thinking about discipline. Unfortunately the majority of schools still use what I think is an archaic approach to thinking about discipline. Most schools still use a punitive/short-sighted approach to behavior, where they completely miss the opportunity to build skills. There are certainly exceptions, like the AMAZING Momentous Institute in Dallas.
I’d suggest giving them our book 'No Drama Discipline' that lays out the whole approach and the science behind it. But if you want a short quick thing, here are a couple of videos I did on the approach in a nutshell:
- (VIDEO: 20 min) Overview of No-Drama Discipline Principles - Click here to watch
- (VIDEO: 5 min) No-Drama Discipline in a Nut Shell - Click here to watch
Also, click here to read a letter that Dan Siegel and I wrote in 'No-Drama Discipline' that outlines the approach.
Here are a couple of other resources specific to schools (click the names below to learn more):
I am not able to respond individually to most people who write me, but I am so passionate about shifting this thinking in our schools. I’m in fact keynoting at an educator’s conference on this in Atlanta (click here to learn more) in a few weeks along with Lives in the Balance and others.
Good luck to all you parents who are asking schools and significant others and grandparents and babysitters to at least consider another way to think about kids' behaviors and how to respond to these behaviors. We can do this. We can start shifting culture and reclaim the original meaning of the word discipline--TEACHING & building skills. It's what parents and educators are SUPPOSED TO DO.