From the Desk of the Counselor
Posted by Roger Bridges on 10/24/2017
I hope this note finds you and your family well. I wanted to take a moment to reintroduce myself to you all through the lens of my role as school counselor and to share with you some of my philosophy and experience related to children and their psycho-social/emotional and developmental needs. I’d also like to highlight some of my key takeaways from Dr. Tina Payne Bryson’s talk a few weeks, particularly her view on discipline. I hope this information will be helpful to you short term and long term. If nothing else, I hope it can serve as a conversation starter.
I am an educator, school administrator and inclusivity practitioner but at my core I am a good old-fashioned social worker. In my undergraduate social work program and later reinforced in my master’s program, I was taught to provide support and counseling based on a “strengths-based” model, meaning I was encouraged to look at my client/charge/student as the best asset and resource of information for my action plan in providing them service. In other words, I recognize Echo Horizon students and families are the experts on their own lives and my key resource in addressing the issues that come up in their lives. Long story short… this social worker and educator believes in your children and you!
DISCIPLINE = TEACHING (SKILL BUILDING)
The way many of us grew up with discipline is through the lens of an extinction model as in STOP… this needs to go away. The focus was on consequence and punishment. Dr. Tina Payne Bryson points out to us that the Latin root of the word discipline means “to teach”. Dr. Bryson reminds us that we, the parents, guardians, and adults in our young people’s lives are by nature all teachers first and foremost! According to Dr. Bryson, when young people act out or behave in inappropriate ways, they are communicating to us that they do not have a certain tool or skill that they need. It is our job to help them develop that tool or skill. TEACHING = SKILL BUILDING. The more skills we teach and give to our young people, the less discipline will be necessary!
Giving consequences (and setting limits) certainly can be one part of addressing these needs, but it is one tool in a whole set of tools at our disposal. There are also other tools such as listening and “chasing the why” as Dr. Bryson would say. Taking the time to ask, “…why is my child acting this way” versus always immediately banishing them to their room or dishing out a consequence to, in our minds “extinguish” the unwanted behavior.
Since the beginning of the school year, we have been observing and listening to our students. Mixed in with a lot of behaviors that we enjoy and appreciate, we have observed some inappropriate and undesirable behaviors exhibited by some of our young people. While these behaviors are not what we would like, they are developmentally normal and on some level not unexpected. We see clearly that there are some skills that our students do not possess that we need to develop and cultivate in them… things like showing sportsmanship, showing empathy in difficult moments, and resolving conflict with appropriate words versus reacting with physical action.
Next week, I will lay out our plan to address these needs and how we plan to help our young people develop these necessary skills. Stay tuned!
Assistant Head and Director of Counseling
- Echo Horizon School
- Head of School Blog