Rules and Consequences in the Classroom
A classroom full of children can sometimes mean that one or two children may display unacceptable behavior during the day. The behaviors displayed may be different in each case. How can you work with the children to set a stage for what is acceptable behavior?
As a class, work together to set the rules and determine the consequences for breaking them. This helps children learn behaviors that are acceptable and those that are not. Also, it prepares them to understand what will happen if they exhibit unacceptable behaviors.
The purpose of this exercise is to help students understand the rules and consequences and learn positive, healthy behaviors both in and out of the classroom.
- "Not Allowed" Student Handout, one copy per student.
For Younger Students (Optional)
- Know Kit cards "My Friends" ("How do you make up with a friend?") and "My Feelings" ("What do you do when a friend hurts your feelings?")
- Children's literature that illustrates acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. For example:
"Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle," by Betty Macdonald
"David Gets in Trouble," by David Shannon
Make one copy of the Handout for each child.
Optional Activity for Younger Students:
- Group children in a circle and ask them to name behaviors that get them into trouble at home. (Answers will vary, but may include: hitting a sibling, not putting their toys away when asked, being untruthful, helping themselves to cookies without permission, and/or ignoring a parent.) What should their parents do when children misbehave? (Answers will vary, but may include: taking away toys or TV time, being sent to their room, or time out in a corner or special chair.)
- Have them name the behaviors that get them into trouble at school and what the consequences are for them.
- Ask the students how the consequences make them feel. What would they do differently if they had a choice? Would a different consequence change their unacceptable behavior to good behavior? What would those consequences look like? If not, why not?
- Select 2–3 types of behavior mentioned in class. Ask volunteers to role-play what they think would be acceptable responses to the behavior. After each role-play, have the class give their suggestions.
- Create a list of class rules to be posted on a wall. Discuss with students what they think ought to be the consequences for breaking those rules. Hold up a copy of the “Not Allowed” student handout and ask them what they think the symbol means. (Answers will vary, but may include: STOP, DON’T, NO.)
- Then, distribute a copy of the handout to each student, with marker and/or crayons. Ask each child to draw a picture of a behavior that is a NO behavior. Add their drawings to the wall where the class rules are posted. Finally, have a class discussion about the consequences that would follow a NO behavior.
- Read a book to the class that illustrates unacceptable behavior. Some suggestions:
- "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle," by Betty Macdonald. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle knows how to deal positively with all sorts of unacceptable behavior.
- "David Gets in Trouble," by David Shannon. Little David always makes excuses for his behavior but he only feels better when he learns to say, "I'm sorry."
- Use the story and the Know Kit cards to talk about behaviors that hurt others’ feelings. What kinds of responses or consequences could make up for and/or change the behavior?
- "Good Discipline Is Guiding and Teaching the Children," from CDC and NASD, offers quick tips on disciplining children.
- "Consequences," from the Raising Children Network, discusses three types of consequences and when to use each one.
- "How To Set the Rules of Parenting Discipline To Make Your Child Respect and Follow Them?" from The Parents Zone gives quick tips for setting rules for kids
- "The 7 Biggest Discipline Mistakes" from Parent's Talk: Expert Advice discusses seven common errors parents make in dealing with children's negative behavior and offers alternative actions.
- "Discipline Guide," from Keep Kids Healthy, has solid tips on what to do and what not to do when disciplining a child.
- "The Surprising Secret to Raising a Well-Behaved Child," from Parents.com, sets out four strategies for getting kids to discipline themselves.
- "6 Little Behavior Problems You Shouldn't Ignore," from "Parents' Magazine," discusses common behavior problems parents ought to nip in the bud.
Student Handout: Not Allowed
Draw a picture of a behavior that is against the rules at school.