Classroom Discipline Tips for Children & Youth Workers, Sunday School & Other Bible Teachers

Make the development of internal control the ultimate goal.

dangle a carrot

Pavlov discovered that if you dangle a reward in front of someone, you can elicit a predetermined response. Children's workers find it tempting to follow his lead in discipline practices because it seems to work.
But just because something works, is it the best approach?

Ask yourself a few questions:

1) Are you helping the child learn responsibility?

The need to link good behavior to a reward implies that the child cannot otherwise be responsible for his own behavior. He must rely on the teacher to contrive and manipulate the environment, promoting a dependency on the teacher rather than self-direction and self-control.

2) Are you encouraging initiative and creativity within the child?

The reward is for predetermined behavior. The child doesn't have to think for himself. What motivation is there for him to do a good deed not on the list?

3) Are you developing godly motivations?

Extrinsically motivated people ask, "what's in it for me?" They seek self-gratification. Intrinsically motivated people don't need a reward to do what is right. Ideally your students should properly respond in order to glorify God, because they love Him and want to be conformed to the image of the Son. Actions should flow from the fruit of the Spirit.

To respond to these spiritual motivations a person must know Christ as His Savior. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives motivation and power to do right. Consequently, a teacher will do well to rely more on the Holy Spirit and prayer than on a bag of tricks.
There may be situations in which a reward is the best approach but the key is that we do not get imbalanced and make the reward the ultimate. God promises us rewards but He Himself is to be the ultimate in our lives. His goal is that we know, love, and honor Him. The reward is only a fringe benefit.

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(Last updated 1/01/17)

For more training to help you with Classroom Discipline:

Handbook on Classroom Discipline      Effectively Handling Classroom Discipline Workbook

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