Every one, every day, is faced with choices and each of us has the free
will to decide what our choice will be. However, once the choice is made we cannot escape
the consequences of our choices. That is the basis for the Law of Cause and Effect,
sometimes referred to as "consequential behavior."
For example, a student who chooses to attend class, pay attention and
study will be successful as a student and will receive praise and awards for his/her
accomplishments. A student who is absent frequently, daydreams and fails to do his
assigned work will find school to be unpleasant and non-productive.
The principles of consequential behavior are universal, applying to
teachers, administrators and parents as well as students. Self-discipline is an acquired
behavior learned through the efforts of the important people in our lives. Helping
children to acquire self-discipline often requires great self-discipline by those
responsible for teaching it. Enforcing the consequences of undisciplined behavior is a
difficult and often unpleasant task which many teachers and parents find easier to ignore.
There are, of course, consequences to ignoring enforcement -- a person lacking in
self-discipline because he was able to evade the consequences of his behavior.
A few suggestions about helping students to become self-disciplined:
1. Be sure your students understand the Law of Cause and Effect.
2. Be sure your students understand the consequences of decisions.
3. Do not set sanctions that you cannot or will not enforce.
4. Enforce the sanctions each time, every time consistently and fairly. Avoid the
temptation not to enforce sanctions because enforcement creates an inconvenience for you
or because you feel sorry for the offender.
5. Remember you are helping someone to learn to live with the consequences of their
6. Be self-disciplined yourself.
students to learn self-discipline is a demanding task, especially in a permissive society.
It is well worth the effort. It helps to assure that your students will live happy,
successful lives long after they have established lives independent from parents and
teachers. As Lou Holtz said, "Discipline is something you do for someone."