The top question we get at Live Expert Help at our web
site ( is "How do I get kids to
behave?" Often, that teacher or counselor is looking for
new discipline methods that will better engender appropriate
behavior in their setting. Often, that teacher or counselor
does not like our answer.

Our answer is that discipline and consequences are often
ineffective. Yes, every school or agency needs both, but
alone, they don't work. Alone? Yes, if you have a discipline
and consequence structure set up, but have not first taught
your students the skills, motivation and attitudes that they
need to perform the desired behaviors, you will almost
certainly find your discipline is ineffective.

Children and youth often can not do specific
behaviors that they were never taught. Further,
those youngsters who have bad attitudes and no
motivation may have no interest in performing to
your satisfaction. Yet, teaching students to have
the desired skills, motivation and attitude is almost
universally over-looked at most sites. If you want
to remedy that oversight, here are the essential
elements that must preface or accompany your
discipline and consequences:

Got Skills?
Years ago, families taught their offspring the
basic skills required in school and other
settings. Now, many students have never been
taught the necessary nuts-and-bolts behaviors
that are essential to functioning. They may see bad
behavior at home and bring it with them to your site.
That's why many youth seem to have no sense of
acceptable anger control, verbiage, or personal space
and distance. Set up any discipline and consequences
you want, but if the child lacks the key skills to comply,
discipline can't make much difference.

Got Motivation?
If a child believes that your service is unimportant,
their behavior is likely to reflect that belief. Children
once learned at home about the value of school or your
service. If contemporary students don't learn that at
home, and you don't teach it at your site, the child's
behavior may reflect their contempt despite any
disciplinary efforts.

Got Attitude?
If a child has a negative attitude about your site, that's
likely to be reflected in problematic conduct. Discipline usually
can't compel a child to change, but adjusting the child's
attitude to be more positive, can create results that by
comparison, seem almost magical.

Want Discipline? Teach Skills-- and Attitudes and Motivation

Stop looking for the right consequence or discipline structure,
and focus on building skills, motivation and attitude. All the
consequences in the world can't compel a child to do behavior
they lack the skills, attitude and motivation to do. But skills may
be the most important of the three. There are so many skills to
teach, here's a few to start with:

Show Up
You work no magic on an absent student. Attendance may be
the single most important skill that most schools and agencies
never teach. Worse, if a student doesn't show up, and is suspended,
does that assist the child to improve their attendance? What works
infinitely better: Teach the child the attendance skills they need,
then perhaps they'll have the skills to improve. Without skills,
suspension or other discipline can't overcome the fact that the
child hasn't set their alarm, or doesn't know where their bus pass is.

Listen Up
If you can't communicate with the child, how can you provide
your service? Teaching children to have "ears on teacher" (or
counselor, foster parent, etc.) is a basic concept that many
sites have forgotten to teach children. Discipline can't turn
back the clock and compensate for the reality that the child
never heard you in the first place.

Look Up
If the eyes are elsewhere, you may find it hard to communicate.
"Eyes on teacher" should be universally taught, but is not. If the
eyes aren't tracking, sanctions won't remedy that on-going gap in
skills, but skill-building can.

Other Key Initial Skills to Teach First
Anger control, and properly managing fists, legs, arms, mouth, actions.

Don't Forget Motivation and Attitude
Would you like some great motivation-makers? There are some
examples at our site (
Our Education: Don't Start the Millennium Without It,
Turn On The Turned-Off Student, and Last Chance School
Success Guide (
deliver dozens of maximum-strength motivation-makers.

Get free sample materials, 100s of free interventions,
and our free Problem Student Problem-Solver magazine at
our site, Plus, you can find your
solution to your worst student problems. We also have
surprisingly different, must-see posters, books, instant
ebooks, audio books, workshops and free Live Expert
Help. For further information on this article or Youth
Change's top-rated resources, call 1-800-545-5736.

Author's Bio: 

Youth Change Workshops provides teacher and counselor professional development inservice training plus books, posters, distance learning, ebooks, and a huge website full of free lesson plans, thousands of strategies and classroom management solutions