Almost always, I preface any discussion of discipline with a linguistic reminder of what the word means: to create a disciple. When you discipline a child, you are trying to make that child your disciple. And, of course, you are implicitly saying, “I am worthy of being followed.” This brief sermon is just a reminder that the purpose of discipline is not to dispense rewards and punishments (though it certainly does that); it is to share with the child our sense of what is worthwhile in life, of what is conducive to harmony and good will.
The preschool child is not too young to perceive this philosophy of discipline. Therefore, it is important that our disciplinary techniques with very young children communicate to them the kind of person we are—and the kind we want them to become—as well as identify for them the types of behavior we approve and disapprove.
I don’t mean to be begging the question, but I feel strongly that, if we start with that general philosophy, successful specific techniques follow almost on their own. I’ll be writing more about those techniques in the future.
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