Discipline is a controversial subject in this day and age, but an absolute necessity. What we believe here at TK is to set fair expectations and boundaries for the child, and then enforce them with great fervor and consistency. I do not feel that these boundaries should be the same for every child, but I do believe that, as the child matures and proves trustworthy, these boundaries should be extended. I do not believe in extending these boundaries because the child throws a temper tantrum, or because it’s easier or more convenient not to enforce them. I think very hard before I set a limit or make a rule, because I think that by setting that limit I have an obligation to enforce it. I try very hard not to set limits that I am not able or willing to enforce.
Age is a huge determining factor in the boundaries set and privileges allowed, but not the only one. If we have a 5 year old who is more responsible in some areas than a 10 year old, then that 5 year old will be awarded more privileges (in that area) than the 10 year old. It helps the children learn to be more responsible for their actions, and not to take their privileges for granted if discipline, boundaries and privileges are handled in this way.
Should a child “break a rule” or “abuse a privilege”, depending on the situation and the child, a series of things may happen:
If the child is very young, or very new to the TK family, we may assume that the child does not understand the rule, and so we will reteach it. It is our obligation to “teach and reteach” in a kind and understanding manner, until we are sure that the child understands.
If teaching and reteaching is ineffective, then one of two things could be the cause. Either the child is too young, and not yet capable of understanding the limits, boundaries and rules surrounding that activity or privilege, or they do understand, but they are unwilling to abide by the rules and boundaries. If we find either situation to be the case, we will simply redirect the child to another activity more suitable for them at that time.
Also known as Time-Out. If the child defiantly breaks a rule then they may be asked to take a time out. They will be expected to sit on the deck or in a chair for a short period and not participate in any of the regularly scheduled activities.
If a child who knows the rules and boundaries of an activity breaks those rules, I feel that a natural consequence of that violation is to restrict the child from that activity, or take away that privilege for a more extended period of time.
I will certainly keep parents informed of how their child is doing behaviorally, but for the most part, we will handle our daily disciplinary problems and situations here at TK. Rarely, in case of extreme infractions, I may call a parent at work, and after explaining the situation, ask them to “talk” to their child. Again, this is very rare, as I feel TK is responsible for the children while they are here at TK.
The most serious offense that a child could commit while here at TK would be one that intentionally hurt another TK family member. For younger children that usually means any kind of hitting, shoving, biting, kicking, etc. With older children that would include any kind of physical altercation, lying, or hurtful remarks. It is simply not allowed. “Chances” are not given in these situations. If a TK child hurts or attempts to hurt another TK child, they are put on immediate restriction from playing or interacting with the other children for an extended amount of time and are told, “You will not be allowed to hurt my friends”. Because of the “no tolerance” policy on hurtful behavior, we actually have very little of it occurring at TK!
“Where there is a child, there is hope…” -Terri Lynn Hart