Children Desiring God Blog // Beyond Classroom Management - Part 2 Discipline is helping children to grow, not controlling behavior. It is a long process that needs to be mostly positive in nature, but firm and loving. So relationship building is incredibly important. Managing a classroom—keeping it under control, is something we can do the first time we ever walk into a group of children, and maintaining a well-run classroom achieves another goal—training our children in righteousness:
  • teaching them to walk in a manner worthy of being called Christians
  • having their behavior match their beliefs
  • exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit because their souls have been touched
When we insist that a child raise his/her hand to ask a question, we are teaching politeness. When we do not allow a child to use crude language—we are teaching respect for others. When we encourage children to handle the Bible carefully—we are teaching them to respect the written Word of God. When there is a calm, controlled atmosphere, children are learning self-control. These are worthy goals; they are positive, not negative. The following suggestions for handling misbehavior can be classified as corrective discipline.
  1. Redirect behavior (not defiant behavior, since that needs to be dealt with directly). For example, if a child is throwing blocks, you could suggest, “Let’s build the walls of Jericho," or say, “The blocks are not for throwing, but you can throw the bean bag.”
  1. Let the child experience the natural consequences when possible. For example, a child who will not listen to instructions about a project may ruin the project.
  1. Take action! Don't lecture or just threaten to take action. For example, remove privileges. Isolate the child who is misbehaving. Have a child who destroys property make restitution by fixing it, paying for the damages, or replacing a broken toy with a toy from home.
  1. Analyze causes for misbehavior. Where is there a need in the child's life? Is the child seeking attention? Is the misbehavior a power struggle or a reaction to pressure? Talking with the child or visiting the family in the home may bring clarity.
  1. Pray!
While it is a worthy goal to desire attentive, well-behaved children in our classrooms, it’s not the ultimate goal, which is training hearts toward the Savior. God is the highest authority, and He has a created order to the universe. God has set parents and leaders over children to teach the fear the LORD. Children are to joyfully submit to God by submitting to their leaders. As leaders, we are to joyfully submit to God and lead our children with kindness and strength. May we say with the psalmist…

Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no lack!...those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.—Psalm 34:9-11

(This blog post was compiled by Lori Myers, based on notes by Connie Oman from a seminar Connie delivered during the 2009 CDG National Conference.)