Discipline Strategies At Wild Roots Holistic Learning Center

October 03, 2014

Disciplining a young child is a very important topic for teachers and parents and is achieved most effectively when the child is receiving consistent forms of discipline at home and school. In the holistic atmosphere of Wild Roots Preschool, children are encouraged to form inner discipline rather than expected to simply “obey” without understanding.  Following are some discipline strategies that we employ here at Wild Roots.

There are several key factors for forming inner discipline and it is essential that children be respected and understood for their current age and developmental stage throughout the inner-disciplining process.

  • Environment
    • Orderly- Every material and classroom item has its place and children are taught how to keep that order

    • Consistent- materials remain in same place with minimal changes and disruptions

    • Child Size- Materials and items in classroom are youth-size and at youth-height in order for maximum independence

    Calm and Quiet (comes with gradual internal peace and discipline)

  • Freedom

    • Choice of Work but always after lesson has been given with materials

    • Responsibility of using material properly and placing back where it was taken

    • Natural Consequences – If choices are not made appropriately


  • Behavior: a child misuses a material and it breaks.

Natural Consequence: The classroom does not have that material for use anymore. (We wait a substantial amount of time before replacing or do not replace with exact same item if possible)

  • Logical Consequences of actions taken


  • Behavior: A child chooses not to put away his work.

Logical Consequence: That child is unable to get out another activity.

  • Behavior: A child hurts her friend’s feelings in a conflict

Logical Consequence: The child is involved in a conflict resolution discussion of how her actions or behaviors hurt her friend or the classroom (without forcing an apology)

    • Minimal Praise and Rewards

      • Allowing a child to form inner discipline is the goal of the classroom. By giving constant praise and rewards for good behavior or work well done, the teacher is instilling a need for outer recognition, which inhibits inner discipline

      • Instead of giving praise or rewards, the teacher encourages desired behavior, allows the child to feel a sense of pride in work accomplished, and discusses the feelings this brings to oneself and the effect on his or her environment

    • Grace and Courtesy

      • Young children need to be taught simple lessons on how to treat one another, and take care of themselves through practice and role play

        • How to greet a friend

        • How to shake hands

        • How to ask for help

        • How to use table manners

        • How to cover a cough

        • How to help a friend

        • How to ask for something nicely

        • How to interrupt politely

    • Role Model

      • Teachers and older children will role model proper behaviors in the classroom such as:

        • Using materials properly

        • Speaking quietly

        • Communicating politely

        • Treating others with respect

        • Behaving and moving graciously

        • Demonstrating patience

        • Carrying materials properly in front of children (even if in a hurry)

    • Care for the Environment

      • Demonstrate how to care for everything in the environment

        • children no not automatically know how to do this

      • Treatment of materials, dishes, plants, animals, furniture, friends, etc.

      • Explain that the classroom belongs to everyone and it is everyone’s responsibility care for it by being gentle, replacing work back in proper place, cleaning tables, watering plants, preparing snack, cleaning their dishes, etc.

      • Role model this behavior and be consistent

    • Communication

    • Communicate to children how the actions of all children in the classroom affect one another, materials, plants, animals, etc.

    • Explain the natural and logical consequences of actions and how positive vs. negative behaviors give different results and why

    • Use kind and encouraging words

    • Demonstrate active listening to children and they will do more active listening of others

    • Encourage conflict resolution

    • Do not demand obedience, but encourage inner discipline

    • Practical Life Work

      • Offer enough intriguing practical life that will keep children actively busy

        • Wringing a cloth

        • Scooping beans

        • Pouring water

        • Preparing snacks

        • Watering plants

        • Feeding classroom pets

        • Folding laundry

        • Washing tables

        • Washing windows

        • Dusting shelves

It is important to remember that inner discipline of the child is a process and not something that can be demanded in a short period of time. Maria Montessori believed that there were steps of obedience, which ultimately lead to joyful obedience or inner discipline.

A toddler cannot simply obey by command because children under 3 years are run by an intense will of their own mind. It is important rather, to funnel the will of the child at this age through available work that is vital for his or her developmental growth. In addition to giving appropriate work, the child under three should be encouraged  to explore his surroundings as much as possible with healthy limits. Very young children need to exercise their will to develop their minds.

Once a child is old enough to understand his or her actions, behaviors, and consequences, he or she will begin to explore boundaries. This is not a terrible thing. By allowing the child to discover safe natural and logical consequences, the teacher or parent is allowing that child the freedom to chose, make mistakes, feel the outcomes or be proud of his or her correct actions.

By allowing children the freedom to chose and discover their own outcomes, with all of the proper tools provided, they will naturally form inner discipline without the need for demanding obedience. Instead, taking these patient steps will lead to a joyful, peaceful, and constructive classroom of children caring for themselves, their peers, and their environment.

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