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A Simple Approach to Knowing the WAC’s:  Behavior Management Policies

Inappropriate Forms of Discipline

You should distinguish discipline or guidance from punishment.

  • Guidance has as its goal educating and redirecting children. It emphasizes cooperation.

  • Punishment has as its goal hurting, shaming, or intimidating children.

Punishment is an inappropriate form of discipline, and has no place in a child care center. You must not:

  • Shame a child

  • Call a child names

  • Shout at a child

  • Ridicule a child in front of a group

  • Allow the group to make fun of a child

  • Put an older child in a playpen, crib, or high chair

  • Make a child wear a dunce cap

  • Make a child put his face against the wall

  • Spank a child or slap a child’s hand

All forms of corporal punishment is against licensing regulations.

Inappropriate forms of discipline are a source of stress and anxiety for children. It makes them feel badly about themselves, angry at the caregiver and afraid of being punished again. There are times when you will be genuinely angry at a child. Whenever you express your anger at what a child does, it is important that you make it clear you are angry at the child’s behavior, not the child as a person. Do not let your anger be an excuse to be out of control, abusing the child either physically or verbally.

Note: It is never appropriate for adults to lose their temper or control. Caregivers are human and may need to separate themselves from the offending child if they cannot control their own emotions. Understanding children means understanding child development. The more knowledge you have, the easier it is to provide the appropriate behavioral guidance to meet children’s social and emotional needs.


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