The Dick Howser Center follows the behavioral management philosophy of Conscious Discipline by Becky Bailey. The intent is to prevent misbehavior, rather than simply “react” to it. Instead of punishing children after they have misbehaved, the environment should be set up so that children will be less likely to misbehave. This means that certain conditions should be kept in mind: enough toys, enough space, enough activities, enough time, etc. We encourage children to control their world through language and the opportunity to make choices. The program provides a panorama of experiences from which the child can choose in order to give him/her a sense of control.
The environment of The Dick Howser Center is structured so that children can make choices of play activities and materials. This ability to choose and plan gives the child power and prevents many conflicts during the school day. When young children are involved in activities that they enjoy and can pursue at their own rate, they are less likely to misbehave out of frustration. When they are praised and encouraged for their efforts, they are less likely to misbehave to get attention. When children are taught to play cooperatively, they are less likely to fight among themselves. Verbal and physical aggression is always discouraged and never modeled by staff. Our ultimate goal is to help the child solve problems through language and cooperation with others. In these ways, some potential problems may be anticipated and eliminated.
The goal of the entire program is to support the development of an internal control system which enables the individual to grow and function within a social setting.
Nevertheless, misbehavior will sometimes occur. At these times, Dick Howser Center employees WILL USE appropriate responses:
- Children are encouraged to develop language skills that help them to communicate their needs and feelings. Language is modeled for them by adults and other children so that they may learn to use language as a problem solving tool. Calm, positive, and developmentally appropriate language will be used to redirect children’s behavior when necessary to other activities, toys, or play spaces.
- Children may be reminded of the rules through a restating of the natural consequences of their behavior.
- If a child is experiencing difficulty being self directed and using language to solve problems in one area of play, he/she is offered another play activity. In the event that the child is still unable to control his/her behavior and cannot make appropriate choices for him/herself, using language to get his/her needs met, he/she is removed from the problem area and given a personal space away from others. Time limits are imposed by the child. He/she may return to the group or activity whenever the behavior is under control.
Dick Howser employees WILL NEVER USE the following inappropriate responses to misbehavior:
- Children shall not be subjected to discipline that is severe, humiliating, or frightening. This includes harsh language, verbal threats of corporal or excessive punishment, name-calling, derogatory remarks, or any action that could lower the pride, dignity, or self-respect of a child.
- Children shall not be subjected to discipline that is associated with food. A child may not be denied meals, dessert, snacks, treats, party food, etc.
- Children shall not be denied rest as a form of discipline, nor subjected to discipline because they fail to rest at designated times.
- Children shall not be subjected to discipline that is related to toileting.
- Children will not be subjected to discipline involving total isolation (i.e., “time-out”) or that denies them participation in special activities (i.e., on-site field trips, parties).
- Children will not be subjected to spanking or any other form of corporal punishment. This includes paddling a child, slapping a child on the hand or any other body part, pulling a child’s hair, arm, or other extremity, pinching a child or any other action that is painful or might cause a child bodily harm.