An Excerpt from They Call Me Mom by Pete Springer

Discipline is critical when raising children.  To ignore antisocial behavior, in effect, is teaching children that there are no consequences for their actions.  The key to discipline is that it should provide the child with a lesson in a firm but caring way.  If I learned that one of my students was being disrespectful to one of the supervisors at school, I’m sure I would be a little upset with the student.  If I merely impose some punishment without talking to the child, then the discipline loses its impact and isn’t likely to change any behavior in the child.

Imagine that the consequence was to have the student miss the next two recesses.  I would argue that this is likely to have little to no effect.  What if the punishment imposed involved humiliating the student in some fashion?  Let’s say the teacher/supervisor lost their cool and yelled at the child, “Since you are going to act like a spoiled brat, then I am going to treat you like the baby you are!  I want you to suck on this pacifier all recess until you have learned your lesson!”  This form of discipline isn’t going to make someone behave better.  In fact, it is quite likely that the situation will escalate when the child refuses to follow the teacher’s/supervisor’s unreasonable directions and challenges their authority.

What ultimately happens is the adult has made the situation worse.  Even if the child complies with some unreasonable discipline, are they going to feel remorse for what they have done?  On the other hand, if a teacher first gives the child a chance to settle down with a brief time-out, talks to the child calmly, gets the student to think about the power of hurtful words, and then suggests a more appropriate type of discipline, the student may learn something from the experience.

What is an appropriate type of discipline in this situation?  I would suggest having the student write a sincere letter of apology to the supervisor.  If the student needs help in doing this, then I would guide them.  I would recommend the student wait until the end of recess and present the letter of apology to the supervisor. 

It is imperative that the child faces the person they have wronged and try to apologize.  I might even suggest that the student could help the supervisor in some manner for the next recess to fully make the point that there are consequences for our actions.  Maybe the “help” is something like looking for kids on the playground that are using appropriate playground behavior.  Perhaps the student could pick up trash or sweep the sidewalk for the supervisor.

The point is that it is always better to discipline a student by having the child do something positive for the school, rather than writing fifty sentences or sitting in the office for the next two recesses.  So, this child has completed the appropriate discipline by writing a sincere letter of apology.  He listened to how that person felt when spoken to disrespectfully.  He has done something productive for the school, and, thus, has maintained his dignity while hopefully learning something in the process.

24 thoughts on “Discipline

  1. Thanks for your clear thinking on this. I remember the pointless punishments at school. For spitballs a kid had to tear up a whole sheet of paper into spitballs and spit them into a waste basket. I had to write something 250 times. Then there was the time a teacher threw an eraser at me. Egads. The things teachers got away with in the 1950’s.


    1. petespringerauthor December 28, 2019 — 3:12 pm

      The thinking should always include what one is trying to accomplish. I can remember being in classrooms as a student where teachers threw chalkboard erasers at children. Even as a young child, I knew that wasn’t right.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow. I thought I was the only one. I remember being humiliated by the chalk on my blouse.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor December 28, 2019 — 5:09 pm

        I’ve never been a fan of humiliation in any setting in life, but particularly in a classroom. It’s all about building them up—not tearing them down.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That philosophy definitely did not prevail when I was a kid.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You and I are similar teachers, Pete. This book sounds excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 28, 2019 — 3:18 pm

      Thanks, Jacqui. Even though people teach different aged students, they can share similar teaching philosophies.


  3. seems like great advice, Pete. Perhaps if everyone just followed the golden rule, it would make things easier…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 28, 2019 — 9:02 pm

      So true, Jim.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This advice is well thought out and spot on. With my preschoolers, I gather both children (the one who initiated the bad behavior and the victim). I say to the instigator “Look at John. Can you see how upset he is? You really hurt him. Ask him how you can make it better.” Then the child addresses his victim and asks how he can make it better. The victim may say “I need a hug” or “Say you’re sorry” or “Stop taking my toy.” Whatever it is, now the victim is empowered and the instigator must ‘fix it.’


  5. You make so much sense Pete. If only much of this practical advice would prevail. The world could use more teachers like you. 🙂 Happy New Year to you! 🙂


    1. petespringerauthor December 30, 2019 — 2:34 pm

      Thank you, Debby. I had the good fortune of working around some of the best teachers. One of my favorite things these days is telling people that one of my educational role models is part of my writing critique group. She is eighty-one years young and continues to inspire me with her wisdom and wit.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent course of action…a pity you were not around when I was at school. thanks Pete for sharing.


    1. petespringerauthor December 30, 2019 — 4:15 pm

      My pleasure, Sally. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I’d like to think I learned a few things in thirty-one years of teaching kids.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great sharing and promotion, Pete.
    I’ve just popped in to say how grateful I am to have met up with you this year, and to wish you success in 2020, whatever you consider it to be. Happy New Year!
    Best wishes,


    1. petespringerauthor December 31, 2019 — 7:15 am

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment, Norah. I am also appreciative to have met so many other kind and supportive people, such as yourself, through blogging in the past year. It’s been a rewarding year for me—a chance to try new things.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s sounds wonderful, Pete. May it continue so throughout 2020.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I totally agree! Another aspect of discipline that’s imperative for my kids is to address the issue when it happens, or near to it if they need some time to cool down.


    1. petespringerauthor January 3, 2020 — 6:56 pm

      Yes, this parenting business isn’t for the faint of heart. Sometimes it sucks being a parent when you have to be tough, but it comes with the territory. Kids really do want to know what their limits are, and even though they might complain about it (what kid doesn’t think his/her parents don’t have a clue?), it’s worse when their parents don’t care. The other thing all kids crave (adults too, for that matter) is they want to know they’re loved.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Informative article!! 100% agree with you, the discipline would be rendered ineffective if either is absent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor January 21, 2020 — 10:17 pm

      Thanks for dropping in, Tim. There has to be a purpose for any discipline. When parents/teachers act punitively without any learning/discussion, the act is pretty much pointless.


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