Imparting positive discipline in the classroom

By Willy M. Albar
Igbac Elementary School
Buhi District
Sector 1, Buhi, Camarines Sur

For many educators, imparting discipline inside the classroom is a difficult and sometimes controversial endeavor. How does one resolve common classroom concerns without resulting to the violence and abuse that DepEd prohibits?

The answer lies in an approach called positive discipline.

What is positive discipline?

In 2012, the Department of Education (DepEd) laid the groundwork for this approach through an order known as the DepEd Child Protection Policy.

Said order defines positive and non-violent discipline of children as thus: “a holistic, constructive, and pro-active approach to teaching that helps children develop appropriate thinking and behavior in the short and long-term and fosters self-discipline. Positive discipline is based on the fundamental principle that children are full human beings with basic human rights.”

This approach is echoed by the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC) and the Philippine constitution which both support child protection.

It thus frowns upon child exploitation (including sexual exploitation and economic exploitation), violence against children committed in schools (including physical, sexual, psychological, and other forms of violence), bullying or peer abuse, and corporal punishment.

Of particular significance, it may be said, is the latter (corporal punishment) because it has long been a practice in schools and homes to strike, beat, kick, hit, slap, or lash children, force them to perform physically painful and damaging acts, subject them to verbal abuse, or permanently confiscating their property.

In fact, just last month, DepEd issued a reminder against corporal punishment after two incidents of such were recorded in schools in the Bicol region.

Meanwhile, according to the primer released by DepEd, E-Net Philippines, and Save The Children, positive discipline is: About finding long term solutions that develop students’ own self-discipline;
Clear and consistent communication; Consistent reinforcement of your expectations, rules and limits; Based on knowing your students and being fair; Aimed at building a mutually respectful relationship with your students; Teaching students life-long skills and fostering their love of learning; Teaching courtesy, non-violence, empathy, selfrespect, and respect for others and their rights; and Increasing students’ competence and confidence to handle a academic challenges and difficult situations.

On the other hand, it should not be mistaken for any of the following: Permissiveness; Letting students do whatever they want; Having no rules, limits or expectations; Short-term reactions; or Alternative punishment to slapping, hitting and shaming.

How is positive discipline practiced?

With these in mind, positive discipline is practiced by (1) identifying long-term goals such as helping children become productive, responsible, and caring individuals; (2) providing warmth by listening to the learners, showing them respect even when they make mistakes, encouraging them when they have difficulties, and looking at things from their point of view; (3) understanding child development; and lastly (4) identifying individual differences.

This approach can be used in a multitude of common classroom challenges, such as when pupils or students exhibit disruptive behavior like talking in class or rudeness, fail to submit assignments or projects, fall into absenteeism or tardiness, or violate school rules.

DepEd’s continued support and campaign for methods of discipline that do not involve abuse and violence is both reassuring and inspiring. It provides teachers with guidance on how to respond to common classroom challenges while maintaining respect and dignity inside the classroom.