As described on Dr. Bailey's website, Conscious Discipline® is a research-based, social-emotional program that facilitates early childhood and elementary teachers in creating “school families” where children and teachers can reclaim joy, helpfulness and caring as a foundation for the educational process. Conscious Discipline® assists teachers in developing their inner life, empowering them to transform conflict into teaching moments for themselves, their colleagues as well as the children and families they serve. Research conducted in schools and centers using Conscious Discipline® shows that it decreases aggression, increases academic scores on state tests, decreases impulsivity/hyperactivity in “difficult” children, increases collegiality of staff, and creates a positive school climate. It was named a national model for character education by the Character Education Partnership in 2005.
My journey with Conscious Discipline® began in 2000, the day before school started. At our in-service day, our principal held up the Conscious Discipline® book and stated “ T his is the discipline we are going to use this year”. I think everyone in the room went straight to their brain stems!
Jill Molli, our school counselor, had attended Dr. Bailey’s weeklong workshop and was very excited about the possibilities. Out of my friendship and respect for Jill, I thought I would at least go through the motions. Then it happened. One day in class I used the “You did it” phrase and described what I had seen. The look on that child’s face is one I will always remember. It was different tha n any I had seen. It was that moment that made me think there was something to Conscious Discipline®. I was hooked. Jill continued to offer in-services, and I read and reread the book. I listened to the CD and talked with Jill about Conscious Discipline®. As Jill grew, her journey needed to go on a different path and she left our school.
Despite Jill's absence, I continued to use Conscious Discipline® in my classroom. Through my experiences big and small, my students taught me that children can help and heal. A simple sing-song is powerful. I knew then that I needed to learn more about Conscience Discipline®.
Continuing my journey, I decided to take my 2006 summer school pay and attend the SummerInstitute training in Florida. It was great, all that Jill had said it would be. I knew I would have to be patient when I returned to school that fall as not everyone would be ready for Conscious Discipline®. Dr. Bailey's visit to my school that March helped to motivate the entire school. My first year following training, I began offering an after school in-service and had 18 teachers attend regularly. With encouragement from Jill, I was able to attend Conscious Discipline® II. It was there I learned even more about Conscious Discipline® and myself. I developed a network of Conscious Discipline® friends. We celebrate and support each other and continue to grow.
Following my extended training, I was given the opportunity to do a monthly in-service at my school during the school day. I enjoyed this venue; it was friendly and open to questions. I have also provided monthly in-service programs at Hawthorne Elementary and Centralia Elementary. Conscious Discipline® was new to both schools, but many of the teachers were eager to learn. My presentations have expanded and I have been able to bring Conscious Discipline® to other school districts and their teachers including Paris, Missouri and Columbia, Missouri. I have also given presentations to daycare providers, parents within church communities, Parents as Teachers groups and school districts' support staffs.
My perception of Conscious Discipline® is that it is a method of making your life easier, professionally and personally. Conscious Discipline® is a researched and brain based discipline for handling life. When we feel inadequate, we have a tendency to blame others, the parents, the lower grade teacher, administration, the list goes on and on. The bottom line is how we treat and discipline ourselves, is how we will treat and discipline our children. We need to stop blaming otheres and become the person we want children to be!
"Conscious Discipline® believes in teaching children how to be successful, not giving rewards for doing what is expected." This discipline relies on love instead of fear. Fear threatens punishment; threatens failure, loss of love, or abandonment. Fear focuses on what you did not do. It is like someone is following you around with a yellow highlighter marking all your mistakes. “DON’T think of a pink elephant!” What did you think of? Love focuses on what you do want. Love paints the exact picture of what is needed. It puts what to do in the child’s mind.
Conscious Discipline® responds from the higher centers of the brain rather than react from the lower centers. The lower centers are where you may hear your mother’s voice, or later regret your actions. In the higher centers, there is a state of calm, “ I am safe I can handle this”. Traditional discipline believes you can make children behave. Conscious Discipline® guides children to change negative behavior. Traditional relies on rules and punishment. If you were to go in a prison and ask what rule the inmate broke, they could tell you. If rules worked our prisons would be empty. Disconnected kids break rules. They act as if they don’t care – they are saying they have not been cared for. Conscious Discipline® believes relationships govern behavior. Think of your relationships. When things are going great and your spouse asks you get him a drink from the frig, you do so willingly. When things are rocky and the relationship is in conflict and your spouse asks for a drink, your response may be @#$@!#$ yourself! Traditional views conflict as a negative. We want to avoid conflict because to many of us it means screaming and yelling. To avoid it we offer rewards. Mommy will buy you a candy bar if you will just stop -----. We may do the opposite and threaten punishment. “I’ m leaving by the time I count to three if you’re not ready---. If you don’t get this finished you won’t be going to lunch. Conscious Discipline® views conflict as an opportunity to grow, to connect. It is an opportunity to teach missing social skills. It allows time to reflect, Stop, Take a breath, And Reflect. What is my best choice?
Conscious Discipline® is NOT a lovey, dovey, happy the kids up! Often times the child is left feeling uneasy as he or she tries to fix the problem. It teaches the child (and adults) to set limits and how to say no. It is eye contact and touch. A human can live with out their sight or hearing, but they cannot live without touch. Love means we bring our best to a situation. “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but reveal to him his own.” Conscious Discipline® can turn a hurtful situation into helpful, conflict into cooperation, and can be the most effective way to deal with aggressive behavior.
Conscious Discipline® consists of seven basic skills of discipline that develop character, cooperation, respect, and responsibility: the skills of composure, encouragement, assertiveness, choices, positive intent, empathy, and consequences.