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Effective discipline techniques

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Effective Discipline Techniques Effective discipline techniques to change negative attitudes, whether in the academic or workplace setting, involve changing how an individual views a situation. Hellriegel & Slocum (p. 106)
discuss one of the most familiar methods of discipline, which is a combination of positive
reinforcement for desired behaviors or attitudes and private reprimand for undesired behaviors.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also approaches discipline by encouraging parents to change
undesirable behaviors. During the early years of development, infants learn to sleep at more
appropriate times and to avoid less helpful activities, through the guidance of parents, who often
redirect infants toward more purposeful actions.
When redirecting is used as a form of discipline, it works similarly to positive reinforcement,
in that an expected behavior is rewarded with praise or positive comments. Often it is through
praise and redirecting negative actions, that positive attitudes develop. It is not enough to tell an
adult or older youth that he or she simply needs to change the attitude. The individual may have a
very real or perceived reason for the negative attitude. By offering positive reinforcement and
redirection, the person in the disciplinary role is simply providing a situation in which the individual
will be in a more pleasant frame of mind. The assumption is that praise and positive comments
help to alleviate a negative attitude toward the desired behavior, while other means of discipline can
lead to an even more hostile or negative attitude.
The debate about which must change first, attitude or behavior, is an ongoing one. Ruth
Peters points out, as a behavioral psychologist, that taking time to change a person’s beliefs or
attitude first may take weeks or even months. In the workplace or even at home, this is not the
most desirable approach. She believes that changes in behavior will usually bring about changes
in attitude. For example, if a student studies and prepares before an exam, the reward of a higher
grade is the result that will lead to a change in attitude toward studying. In fact, Peters suggests
that the fast the connection between praise and desired behavior is made, the quicker the attitude
will change. An employee who is docked on the pay check due to coming into work late should
learn faster to get to work on time, then an employee who is simply given a verbal warning. The
idea of changing behavior first and rewarding it has implications in how managers can help motivate
staff to do the right thing or to perform at the desired level. Offer positive praise or consequences
when staff members perform well not only increases the likelihood that the performance will be
repeated, but also shows employees that are can be done and sets the stage for others to follow suit.
Works Cited
American Academy of Pediatrics, “ Guidance for effective discipline.” Pediatrics 1998: 101. 4, 723-
728.
Hellriegel, D. & Slocum, J., Organizational Behavior, 11th Ed. Mason: Thompson South-Western,
2007.
Peters, A., “ Kid got a bad attitude? Here’s how to change it.” Today Parenting 2004. 10 Apr. 2011.

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