Real Talk for Real Teachers with Dr. Becky Bailey and special guest Christiaan Baarsma

Episode Summary

Punishment is defined as the infliction of pain or loss upon a person for a misdeed. Research shows that when children are physically or verbally punished, effects include increased child aggression, increased antisocial behavior, reduced academic achievement, decreased quality of relationships, and mental health problems. Punishment also fails to teach internal control of one’s own behavior (also known as self-regulation). A child who is punished may learn to control or hide a behavior when they are being watched, but they will not learn to regulate their own behavior when no one is watching (and the threat of punishment is removed).

For nearly 25 years, Conscious Discipline has offered alternatives to punishing children for misbehavior. Conscious Discipline is rooted in the belief that connection is the key to cooperation and that children need discipline, not punishment. Effective discipline requires us to recognize behavior as communication and to see misbehavior as a skill deficit rather than a sign of disrespect. In response, we teach the skills and strategies children need to regulate their own behavior for a lifetime—not just when someone is watching.

In this podcast, you’ll hear from Christiaan Baarsma, who has facilitated the implementation of Conscious Discipline at a high school for children with special needs in the Netherlands. When Christiaan arrived, the school lacked safety and had a culture of fear and violence. Christiaan transformed the school’s “punishment room” into a “connection room.” He replaced the system of punishment and rewards with a Conscious Discipline-inspired system based on connection, safety and empathy. Listen in to learn more about how Christiaan led this shift—and how school culture was transformed.

Essential Takeaways

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to use discipline strategies (to teach skills) instead of punishment. Research shows that punishment has a negative impact on mental health, academic achievement, and relationships.
  • Punishment does not teach internal control of one’s own behavior (self-regulation), and our most vulnerable children are punished at disproportionately high rates.
  • In the connection room at Christiaan’s school, students choose which area of the room to sit in based on their brain state. These areas are color-coded: red for the survival state, blue for the emotional state, and green for the executive state.
  • Students may decide to go to the connection room themselves, or a teacher may suggest it.
  • The goal is to help children be successful as opposed to punishing them for the skills they lack.
  • When Christiaan first implemented Conscious Discipline, most children arrived in the survival state. Today, after making connections and learning self-regulatory strategies, most come to the room in the emotional state. The school feels safer, and children are more willing to ask for help.

Important Links

Product Mentions

Show Outline

  • :21 What is Conscious Discipline?
  • :56 Introduction of topic
  • 1:18 Definition of punishment and downsides to punishment
  • 3:32 Introduction of guest Christiaan Baarsma
  • 4:15 Christiaan’s role at the school and introduction to Conscious Discipline
  • 5:56 How Christiaan began the process of shifting from punishment to discipline
  • 7:19 From “punishment room” to “connection room”
  • 10:05 Responding to initial resistance from colleagues
  • 12:00 How Christiaan’s school has changed
  • 16:42 What’s Becky up to?
  • 16:56 What’s Becky celebrating?

Thank You for Listening

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On behalf of our Conscious Discipline family, we wish you well.