I know that many believe positive discipline in the classroom is a wonderful thing. We should never use negative discipline such as writing names on the board or taking away recess. That harms kids. Hmm well I beg to differ and have a different view of some of the positive discipline ideals. Now don’t get me wrong, it is good to be positive and the ideals of positive discipline in many aspects are great however for the most part if you want kids to behave then sometimes the negative promotes positive behavior. A child will not die if he misses a recess and if he is misbehaving getting his name on the board is not going to hurt him as long as the rules are clear. This blog is not about that though it is about how positive discipline can promote bullying and low self-esteem in my opinion.
One example of positive discipline that I was introduced to was that the teacher is to praise the children who are obeying the rules and ignore those who are misbehaving. The idea behind this is that the ones who are misbehaving will want the praise the children who behave are getting. This sounds great in theory and might work great with younger students such as K-1 but as kids grow older this type of discipline bothers me and I believe is not just ineffective but detrimental to the mental health and well being of the kids.
Mrs. Jones has a class with 25 students. Many of her kids are acting up in class. They have a habit of not doing their work, just not doing what they are supposed to do. But then there is Billy who always does what he should, he always sits quietly waiting for directions, never causes any problems. So instead of reprimanding those who are acting up and not doing what they are supposed to do Mrs. Jones praises Billy saying “I love how Billy is sitting still in his chair.” She also constantly says “Billy always has his work done on time and he is always ready to listen. “
It would be great if this worked and the other kids began doing what they should but this will most likely get Billy beat up during recess. The other kids are just going to think he is the teacher’s pet and they will not like him. They will mistreat him and be cruel. In turn this results in low self-esteem for Billy. This kind of discipline has created bullies out of kids who most likely would have started behaving once they realized they would lose recess or something else they loved if they did not obey the rules.
We are such a society of “everyone wins” and “don’t say anything negative to the kids” that we are creating bullies and low self esteem. Sometimes negative does equal positive and positive equals negative.