Positive Discipline Strategies for the Preschool Classroom

Positive Discipline Strategies for the Preschool Classroom

With the problematic trend of preschool suspensions and expulsions on the rise, positive discipline techniques for teachers are more important than ever.  No matter how smoothly your classroom may run, every child eventually exhibits common childhood behavioral problems such as getting distracted or becoming disruptive. The key is to handle these situations with a more positive approach.

Classroom management doesn’t have to be hard! Dr. William DeMeo’s When Nothing Else Works, is full of creative classroom management strategies and tips on positive discipline for preschoolers.  The most important thing to remember is that there are often certain expectations for children that the children themselves don’t understand. Young children require patience, understanding, and a caring approach to their discipline.

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When Nothing Else Works

Here are some positive discipline techniques you can try in your classroom today:

Developmentally Appropriate Expectations for Young Children

Research in the areas of Positive Behavior Support and Pyramids of Intervention has demonstrated that establishing and teaching expectations in the early childhood environment has a positive effect on the classroom climate and prevents challenging behaviors from occurring.

  • Expectations must be clear, concise, and explicit. Children must understand what to do and how to behave.
  • Expectations must be reasonable, positively worded, and relatively few in number. Most young children can reasonably remember three to five of them.
  • Examples of possible expectations:
    • Be safe
    • Take turns
    • Speak kindly to others
    • Be respectful

Informal Acknowledgments

Informal acknowledgments are positive descriptive statements and nonverbal recognition, such as a smile. There are many ways to acknowledge prosocial behaviors informally: tell children you are proud of their efforts, or give them a high five, thumbs-up, or hug. Informal acknowledgments like these are crucial for establishing a positive classroom environment.

When using verbal acknowledgments to increase the likelihood that positive behaviors will continue, consider the following guidelines:

  • Be descriptive
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Recognize effort
  • Be positive

When you notice a behavior that you want to see a child continue use nonverbal acknowledgment to let the child know you notice and welcome the behavior. 

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