My Journey with Conscious Discipline Part II

Today I began to implement the Conscious Discipline strategies for the first time, and let me tell you – I think I was in an entirely different classroom than the one that I’m usually in. I had less stress today than I have had in any single day working in child care. And I promise you that I’m not exaggerating.

It wasn’t too difficult. I only had one time today where I seemed to lose control of the situation, and that was right before nap time. Other than that, I kept my cool all day, I addressed every conflict as a “safety” or “helpfulness” issue, I used the stress relief strategies throughout the day, and I stayed connected with the kids on their level. Even my most rambunctious kids had a great day. There were no meltdowns. The kids played together and interacted together better than I had ever seen them before. It was amazing.

One of the funniest things about it was watching the kids’ reaction to the difference in how I responded to their “crises”. One of them, who seems to have a knack for getting her way, wasn’t getting away with anything and was trying desperately to figure out a way around it. Another one who usually gets what she wants in sneaky kind of ways was so mad at me by lunch time that she could do nothing but shoot daggers at me, simply because she wasn’t getting away with the things that she usually gets away with. A third one, the one who makes me question my choice of careers on at least a weekly basis, had the greatest day she’s ever had in my classroom.

The whole day was amazing, and I can’t wait to duplicate it again tomorrow. I don’t expect it to be as easy as it was today for the whole month, or for the whole time on the program, but if today is any indication, I would say that this book has already more than paid for itself.

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My Journey with Conscious Discipline, Part I

This past week I picked up the book “Conscious Discipline” by Dr. Becky Bailey. First, let me begin by saying that for me to pick up a book having anything to do with research into the childcare field is a BIG thing. I have opened my mind quite a bit recently, but I think I surprised even myself by my willingness and enthusiasm when it came to this book. And the more I read of this book, the more enthusiastic I am becoming.

Conscious Discipline is a seven step system that challenges the way you think about discipline. Dr. Bailey states that the difference between Conscious Discipline and traditional discipline is that traditional discipline is based on fear, coercion, and power struggles, among many other negative factors. Traditional discipline is also based on childcare providers, whether teachers or parents, trying to change or control people and situations outside of ourselves.

Conscious Discipline, on the other hand, requires that we look inside ourselves as the beginning of change in discipline in our classrooms. Dr. Bailey sites research that states that our state of mind and the way that we conduct ourselves directly affects how our children will behave. We have to exhibit and model proper behavior in order to teach it.

Now, a few weeks ago this would have sounded pretty kooky to me, but when you read the book and look at the evidence, you can see how well it can work if you put it in to practice. But, speaking of work, it requires a lot of work and willingness to look inside yourself to make it work. That is one of the biggest challenges that is involved in this system. It takes time, and Dr. Bailey suggests that you tackle each step one month at a time. That will give you the proper amount of time to thoroughly integrate the skill involved into not only your every day routine, but into your mindset as well. But to me, the payoff will be huge – a classroom that interacts like a family, more caring and conscientious behavior out of myself and the children I work with, and an increase in the amount of excitement and enjoyment that I get from my job.

I will be beginning to implement this system tomorrow, when I go back to work. I am very excited about it, and I want to share it with anyone who is interested in reading about it. I will be posting progress reports every now and then, not only to share with others, but so that I can look back and see how far I’ve come.

Reflecting on the Week Behind Me

Wow, what a week! I had been on vacation this past week, and I am looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. But I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the things that I did this week and how they have seemed to change my frame of mind.

First, I defined and publicized where I stand philosophically. I think that this one act did more to help my frame of mind more than anything else I did this past week.

See, I work in child care, and I love my job. I enjoy teaching and working with kids. I want to find ways to teach kids better. I think that kids have amazing potential that child care professionals don’t give them credit for a lot of the time. But my philosophical views were making me very close-minded as to what the best methods are to teach. This close-mindedness made it difficult for me to look at current trends and research without any prejudice against them. My own narrow-mindedness made it extremely difficult to find new methods that work or that can help improve my methods.

Defining my own philosophy helped in that it seemed to set me free to examine everything in a new light, and I have learned so much this past week! I have even come across some methods that I am going to try, methods that I know I would have scoffed at or had something smart to say about only a few weeks ago. It is absolutely amazing to me what a little knowledge will do for your mind.

So I am thoroughly looking forward to going back to work to learn even more and try new things. It is an exciting field that I am in, and I love every minute of my time in it.