Key Elements to Follow when Disciplining and Setting Boundaries

How do I set the boundary in a way that helps children learn and grow? A few key elements that need to be in place for discipline and accountability to make long-term behavioral changes (i.e., children internalize or take responsibility for their behavior).

Adults remain emotionally calm when disciplining. When adults use anger, hostility, or lectures when setting boundaries, they take responsibility for the child’s behavior—robbing the child of the opportunity to learn and grow from their mistakes. Kids will often become defensive and start to rationalize or make it others’ fault versus thinking about and internalizing how to change their behavior. By remaining non-emotional with the consequence, the child is more likely to internalize and not displace blame.

Adults consistently follow through with consequences when a child breaks a rule. Our non-emotional consistency and follow-through lay the groundwork for behavioral and emotional change.

As much as possible, whoever the behavior occurs with, is the person who needs to follow through with discipline. This helps the child learn to trust the adult and follow the adult’s directions. The child may sometimes need to spend time away from the classroom so the teacher can continue teaching. Then the teacher can address the concerns when they are free, and everyone is calm.

To learn more, watch our podcast Key Elements when Disciplining and Setting Boundaries or go to  and watch our online training on  or You can also find more information in our book “Healing Discipline: Bringing Hope to Shattered Lives, A Guide for Educators”. “Healing Discipline: Bringing Hope to Shattered Lives, A Guide for Educators”.


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