I recently received the following question:
How do I respond to an administration that sees the rules that are stated with "No" at the start as too negative?
Thank you for your question. This is an interesting one, and a tricky answer.
My first response is to tell them to read this:
The trend these days seems to be to try to avoid anything negative whatsoever when it comes to classroom management and child raising. Shoot, even the phrase "classroom management" is attacked for sounding too harsh. I think we are getting a little carried away.
The key, I think, is to remember why teachers and parents have rules in the first place. Hopefuly the reason is not just to be negative or wield some kind of power over their kids. The reason we have rules (and thus consequences) should be to protect and sometimes teach children. That's it.
Rules by nature are going to have some element of negativity to them. There is no getting around that. They are preventing people from doing something that they would like to do. The key to their validity is in the motives. If the teacher or parent's motives are to do what is best for the child, then a little negativity won't kill them. Negativity is, in fact, necessary. So, let's not try to sterilize our children's worlds so much that even a hint of anything negative must be removed. That is a good way to raise a generation of soft, unprepared for reality, spoiled brats (or Willy Wonka kids as I call them).
Now, if your administration reads those words and still wants to forbid any negatively phrased rules in your district, don't forget that they are your boss. What they say goes. Reword your rules to try to send the same message without the "nos" in there. And you might want to start looking for a place to work where the people in charge have a little more wisdom and common sense.
Question of the week: What do you think about negatively phrased rules? Does it really make that much of a difference to sugar coat the wording? Share your answers in the comment section. I want to hear from you!
Doug (The Discipline Dr)
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