Excerpt from book: Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting by Joan Durrant Ph.D.

Dr. Joan Durrant was the principal researcher and co-author of the Canadian Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth; a member of the Research Advisory Committee of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children and a co-editor of Eliminating Corporal Punishment: The Way Forward to Constructive Discipline (UNESCO).

Her book  positive discipline

5 to 9 years

This stage marks a major turning point in the life of the child – and of the parents. During this stage, most children will start school.

children walking

 

When a child enters school, her world changes. She must quickly learn how to:

manage on her own, without her parents get along with many new children?meet the expectations of many new adults follow new schedules and routines

Children’s first school experiences can affect their feelings toward school and learning for many years to come.

Although all children start school at the same age, they are not all ready at the same time. Children can have very different temperaments that can greatly affect how they respond to school.

A child’s temperament is inborn. It cannot be changed. It is a big part of what makes your child who she is.

There are no “good” or “bad” temperaments – just different ones. Our temperaments are what make us unique. Every temperament has its own strengths.

Let’s look at some important dimensions of temperament.

1. Activity level

sisters running

 

Some children are highly active, wanting to run, jump, or climb most of the time. They hardly ever sit still, even at mealtimes. They seem to be always in motion.

Other children are inactive, preferring quiet activities, such as looking at books or playing with puzzles for long periods of time.

Other children’s activity levels fall somewhere in-between.

2. Regularity

Some children have predictable rhythms. They get hungry at regular intervals, and wake up, fall asleep and go to the bathroom around the same time each day.

Other children have changing rhythms. They might be very hungry at noon one day and not at all hungry at noon the next day. They might wake up very early on Monday, but sleep late on Tuesday.

Other children have rhythms that fall somewhere in-between.

3. Response to new situations

Some children approach new situations. They smile at strangers, walk up to new groups of children and join in their play, easily make new friends, like to try new foods, and enjoy going to new places.

Other children withdraw from new situations. They move away from strangers, take a long time to join new groups, spit out new foods, and hesitate or avoid going to new places.

Other children’s responses to new situations fall somewhere in-between.

4. Adaptability

Some children adjust quickly to new routines, places, people and foods. It might only take a day or two for them to adjust to a new schedule, living in a new house or going to a new school.

Other children adjust slowly. It might take months for them to make friends in a new neighbourhood, feel comfortable in a new school, or follow a new schedule.

Other children’s adaptability falls somewhere in-between.

5. Distractibility

Some children are easily distracted. They move from one thing to the next, depending on what they happen to see or hear that moment. It takes a long time for them to finish tasks because their attention is constantly being drawn off in different directions. But when they are sad or disappointed, it is easy to shift their attention to something else and change their mood.

Other children are not easily distracted. They will sit and read for long periods. And when they are hungry or sad, it’s not easy to shift their attention.

Other children’s distractibility falls somewhere in-between.

6. Persistence

Some children are very persistent, sticking with a challenging task until it is done. They have a goal in mind and they will keep going until they achieve it. They don’t give up in the face of failure. But it’s not easy to convince them to stop doing things that they want to do.

Other children are less persistent. If they fall, they will stop climbing. If they don’t succeed in solving a puzzle quickly, they lose interest. And it’s easy to convince them to stop doing things that we don’t want them to do.

Other children’s persistence falls somewhere in-between.

7. Intensity

Some children have very intense responses to events and situations. If they have difficulty with a puzzle, they yell and throw the pieces. They show intense anger and sadness, but they also show intense happiness. They cry loudly when they are sad and laugh joyfully when they are happy. You always know how these children are feeling.

Other children have subdued reactions. When they are sad inside, they cry quietly. When they are happy, they smile quietly. It’s difficult to know how these children are feeling.

Other children’s intensity falls somewhere in-between.

Exercise – Your Child’s Temperament 1

Rate your child on each of the 7 dimensions of temperament.

1. Activity level

Low High 1234

2. Regularity

Low High 1234

3. Response to new situations

Avoidance Approach 1234

Sits still? for long periods

Gets hungry and sleepy at different times on different days

Always on the go

Gets hungry and sleepy at the same time every day

Shies away from new people, unhappy in new places, rejects new things

Likes to meet new people, go to new places, try new things

4. Adaptability

Low High 1234

5. Distractibility

Low High 1234

6. Persistence

Low High 1234

7. Intensity

Low High 1234

Takes a long time?to adjust to changes in routines or environments

Focuses on one activity for?a long period

Understanding how children think and feel

Quickly adjusts to changes in routines or environments

Loses interest in activities quickly

Notices everything, shifts attention often

Sticks with activities until they are finished

Doesn’t show much change in emotions

Shows intense sadness, anger and happiness

 

Exercise – Your Child’s Temperament 2

Ways in which my child’s temperament is a strength:

Ways in which my child’s temperament is not a strength:

 

Your child’s temperament has a powerful influence on his readiness for school.

Some children will find the new environment interesting and exciting, will adapt quickly to the new routines, and will enjoy making new friends.

Others will find the new environment stressful, will take time to adjust to the new routines, and will find it difficult to make new friends.

It is important for parents to recognize their children’s temperaments and respect their individuality.

It is not possible to make an active child into an inactive one, or to make a less persistent child into a persistent one.

But we can identify each child’s strengths and build on them. We can also identify each child’s unique challenges and create a supportive environment that allows each child to thrive.

Not only does you child’s temperament affect her behaviour. Your temperament also affects her behaviour – and it affects your behaviour, as well.

Parent-child relationships are strongly affected by the match between the child’s temperament and the parent’s temperament.

Think about a parent who is not very active. This parent likes to stay indoors, read quietly and listen to gentle music.

Now think about what might happen if this parent has a child with a high activity level. What will happen if this child is kept indoors and is expected to sit quietly?

If this parent recognizes that her child has a higher activity level than she has, she will be able to adjust her expectations and find ways to meet her child’s needs for activity. If she doesn’t realize that her child’s behaviour is due to his temperament, she might think that her child is being “bad”.

It’s very important for parents to think about their own temperaments and consider how well they match their children’s temperaments. Doing so can help us to understand the reasons for many family conflicts.

 

Problem Solving

5 to 9 years 

 

The situation

Your child has been going to school for 4 months. You receive a report from his teacher telling you that he is getting into trouble because he can’t sit still, talks to other children a lot, and takes a long time to finish his work.

What should you do? Let’s think about each of the following responses and decide which one is best – and why.

  1. Tell the teacher to slap your child when he misbehaves. ?
  2. Explain to your child why he is getting in trouble with the teacher. Tell him that you love him and want to help him to pay attention better. Ask him about his experiences at school and hear his point of view. Find out if something is happening at school that is bothering or distracting him. ?
  3. Explain to your child why it is important that she pays attention at school. Let him know that you understand that it is hard for him to do this sometimes. Ask him if he has ideas for solutions. Meet with the teacher to develop a plan that will improve the fit between your child’s temperament and the classroom environment. ?

Step 1 – Remember your long-term goals

What are some of your long-term goals that are relevant to this situation?

Check off each response that would lead you toward your long-term goal.

1. Telling his teacher to slap him

2. Explaining and listening to his point of view

3. Explaining, understanding, hearing his ideas, meeting with his teacher to discuss solutions

Compare each response with what you know about providing warmth. For each response check off whether it would:

provide emotional security

show unconditional love?

show affection?

respect his developmental level

show sensitivity to his needs

show empathy with his feelings

 

 

Step 1 – Providing Structure 

Now compare each response with what you know about providing structure. For each response check off whether it would:

provide clear guidelines for behavior

give clear information about your expectations

provide a clear explanation support your child’s learning

encourage your child’s independent thinking

teach conflict resolution skills

 

Step 3 – Consider how your child thinks and feels

Why do young children have difficulty paying attention at school?

 

Step 4 – Problem solving

Compare each response with what you know about the developmental level of young children. Check off each response that would respect your child’s developmental level.

  1. Telling his teacher to slap him ?
  2. Explaining and listening to his point of view ?
  3. Explaining, understanding, hearing his ideas, meeting with his teacher to discuss?solutions ?

Step 5 – Responding with positive discipline

Now that you have thought about your long-term goal, ways of providing warmth and structure, and your child’s developmental level, which response would you choose?

If you chose #2 and #3 well done!

Children have a right to school discipline that respects their human dignity.
Article 28 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

 

The situation

Your child and a friend are playing with toy animals. There is only one horse and both of them want it. When the other child takes it, your child hits her and takes the horse from her.

What should you do? Let’s think about each of the following responses and decide which one is best – and why.

  1. Put all the toys away, tell the children that if they can’t play nicely they can’t play at all. Send the other child home. ?
  2. Tell your child that hitting is not allowed in your family. Explain that hitting hurts other people. Show her how to ask politely for what she wants. Show her how to find an alternative if her request is turned down. Have her practice asking politely for the horse. Recognize her effort to learn this social skill. ?
  3. Slap your child to show her how it feels to be hit. ?

Step 1 - Goals

What are some of your long-term goals that are relevant to this situation?

Check off each response that would lead you toward your long-term goal.

1. Putting the toys away, sending the other child home

2. Stating the rule, modeling the social skill, having her practice

3. Slapping her

Step 2 – Focus on warmth and structure

Compare each response with what you know about providing warmth. For each response check off whether it would

provide emotional security

show unconditional love

show affection

respect her developmental level

show sensitivity to her needs

show empathy with her feelings

 

Now compare each response with what you know about providing structure. For each response check off whether it would:

provide clear guidelines for behavior

give clear information about your expectations

provide a clear explanation?

support her learning?

encourage her independent thinking

teach conflict resolution skills

 

Step 3 – Consider how your child thinks and feels

Why do young children sometimes hit other children?

    

Step 4 – Problem solving

Compare each response with what you know about the developmental level of young children. Check off each response that would respect your child’s developmental level.

1. Putting the toys away, sending the other child home

2. Stating the rule, modeling the social skill, having her practice

3. Spanking her

Step 5 – Responding with positive discipline

Now that you have thought about your long-term goal, ways of providing warmth and structure, and your child's developmental level, which response would you choose?

If you chose #2, well done! 

girl smiling closeup

 

 

Our Mission

The MISSION of the Action Team to End Hitting Children is to gather many people to do small jobs for the purpose of diminishing and finally ending the hitting of children. By "htiting" we mean to include beating, spanking, slapping, shaking, popping, and any other form of physical or emotional punishment that demeans the child and creates emotional, mental, and physical harm. Our strategy is to use many people to do small amounts of work that create momentum to make a difference. 

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