Saturday, April 30, 2011

I LOVE YOU rituals

Eye contact
These are key elements in the I LOVE YOU rituals of Conscious Discipline.

These I LOVE YOU rituals are quite different than what most people associate with discipline. Most of us associate discipline with punishment, time-outs, and scoldings. These kinds of attempts at discipline are usually counter-productive and ineffectual. Neither the parent nor the child ends up feeling good about themselves.

Parents and teachers feel better when they are able to empathize with the child and move toward problem solving.

Children usually misbehave in order to get attention. Children will seek out negative attention if they are not receiving adequate positive attention. The I LOVE YOU rituals are designed to provide a child with unconditional positive attention that is vital for them to thrive and feel secure.

Becky Bailey explains the connection between I LOVE YOU rituals and discipline on pg. 34 of I Love You Rituals.

“Most of the misbehavior children exhibit is children just being children. Children must test the limits. It is their job description. Through this testing, they discover the boundaries of life...In addition, children misbehave when they have an unmet emotional need. This is true of all people; adults do the same thing. If we believe our spouse is being inattentive, we may do some really silly maneuvers to obtain attention....When children feel slighted emotionally, they become demanding, seeking attention in any form they can. When they become demanding, we then seek to make them behave. In doing so, we create more distance in our relationship as children become defensive and resistant to our controlling tactics. I LOVE YOU rituals can break the cycle of emotional disconnection that results in misbehavior.”

Pardon the overused pun about your “presence” being the “present,” but there is much truth to this. The first chapter in Conscious Discipline is about Composure and SELF-discipline. In the case of I LOVE YOU rituals, it may require discipline to really shut out the world around you for a moment. Rituals can be any time of day, but may be particularly effective when part of a predictable schedule.

There are many opportunities for I LOVE YOU rituals throughout the day: Hello/Good-Bye rituals can become a part of school pick-up or drop off, or leaving for work and coming home. Bedtime is a perfect time to include I LOVE YOU rituals.
When your child is experiencing change or stress you will want to include more I LOVE YOU rituals. When YOU are experiencing stress, it will help both you and your child to take time for these important rituals.

You could have an I LOVE YOU ritual each morning at school. Blow kisses to one another, catch them and put them in your pocket - or better yet, your heart.

Or make up your own version of a nursery rhyme a la Becky Bailey, such as:

This little piggy went to The Little School
This little piggy stayed home*
This little piggy had Chef Nate's fresh bread
This little piggy had a scone
And this little piggy cried wee wee wee (and yee-haw) all the way to the Magic Tree.

*but only because he was a part-timer

Ms. Lulu’s, Ms. Leigh’s and Ms. Nicole’s class use ILY rituals throughout the day. Their classroom has created their own language surrounding these rituals. It all began when Ms. Leigh talked about “having a moment” with a child, explaining to other children that they needed some quiet, one-on-one time. This has evolved into a ritual in and of itself: Children know that they can ask to have a moment with a teacher and vice-versa. As full and busy as our days at school are, what a great way to empower the children with the words, “I need a moment.” So not just teachers are helping children, they are helping themselves.

There is an obvious connection between these rituals and our Safe Places that are in each classroom. Our Safe Places are a great location for I LOVE YOU rituals. But these rituals do not require a designated place, or a designated rhyme. An impromptu game of peek-a-boo, hide and seek, “losing” body parts (“I’ve got your nose”) are great for connecting.

Nonetheless, “carving out a sacred space” as Becky Bailey calls it, such as at a specific time like waking up, can be especially precious and reassuring.

As we introduced Conscious Discipline into our classrooms, we also adapted our OOPS reports to become an Opportunity to Problem Solve. Conscious Discipline does not run away from conflict, but rather embraces it. When we encounter misbehavior, it is an opportunity to help children understand positive behavioral options.

Instead of simply signing a form that describes misbehavior and leaves the perpetrator, the victim, and all of the parents feeling powerless, the OOPS report provides an opportunity for positive support.

We aim to take the vantage point of positive intent. This does not mean to overlook the behavior, especially when it comes to safety. Biting and hitting are never okay (said firmly!), but instead of going on about what NOT to do, maybe talk about ways to be kind, helpful, and safe. Rather than being anxious alongside the child who was bitten or hit, try to think of ways to teach empathy and assertiveness.

These types of oops reports are just as much par for the course as the scrapes and bruises; what is important is how we address them. The portion of the OOPS report stating ways you can support your child at home can include a number of problem-solving approaches, or it can simply be the introduction of an I LOVE YOU ritual. Think of it as setting the stage to become re-connected and intrinsically motivated.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences with Conscious Discipline. It is very helpful to see how other preschools are using the program with young children. I really enjoyed your post about Baby Doll Circle Time. Is it possible for you to post your Oops paper? Thanks for all you do. Michelle


Thanks for your comments. All comments are moderated so your comment may not appear immediately on the blog.