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Have you ever had that one student who just could not behave in class? Dreikurs’ model of social discipline may give you the information and skills you need to eliminate behavior issues in the classroom for good.

Classroom Discipline

Take a moment to consider behavior in the classroom. Inevitably, it seems that there are always one or two students who push the limits. This presents issues for students and teachers alike, and if not resolved properly, may lead to disruptions in learning and future behavior issues in the classroom.How can teachers effectively discipline students and set the tone for appropriate behavior in the classroom? What can you do to eliminate behavior issues in your classroom? Dreikurs’ model of social discipline may be just the answer for resolving problem behaviors in the classroom and preventing them from occurring altogether.

What Is Dreikurs’ Model?

Think about the ways you have been disciplined in the past. Were you physically punished? Did you lose privileges such as being grounded or placed in time out? Which did you think was the most effective? Dreikurs’ model of social discipline is a method for addressing behavior issues that takes a strong stance on this issue.Rudolf Dreikurs’ theory is based on the notion that everyone wants to fit in.

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This principle is strongly related to the field of social psychology which focuses on the influence of society on human behavior. In short, Dreikurs blamed inappropriate or problem behavior in the classroom on the student’s inability to fit in. According to this model, punishment is largely ineffective. Instead, Dreikurs’ model of social discipline in the classroom focuses on consequences and encouragement as the keys to effective discipline.Dreikurs’ theory classifies misbehavior in the classroom into four areas. Let’s take a closer look at these with the use of fictional students.

We’ll also include ways to resolve these behaviors in the classroom according to Dreikurs’ model.


1. Attention Getting Behaviors

First, let’s look at attention-getting behaviors.

Jamie is a second-grade student. Jamie frequently defaces school property. For example, he writes on his desk and the walls of the classroom.

Jamie’s teacher feels very annoyed by his behavior and has been punishing him by removing him from the classroom, but it doesn’t seem to be working.Dreikurs’ model of discipline explains Jamie’s behavior as a cry for attention. The behavior is working because the teacher feels annoyed and responds to the behavior with punishment. Dreikurs’ model of social discipline might require that Jamie cleans his desk and the walls to remove his writing. This qualifies as a natural or logical consequence, a hallmark of Dreikurs’ model.In addition, the teacher might use encouragement at times when Jamie is demonstrating appropriate classroom behavior.

Dreikurs’ model focuses on encouragement as an effective tool for preventing behavior problems in the classroom.

2. Behaviors Aimed at Gaining Power and Control

Another classification of misbehavior revolves around behaviors aimed at gaining power and control. Terence is in first-grade. He loves to build towers with blocks. However, Terence sometimes knocks down the block towers built by his classmates.

Despite the fact that Terence’s teacher places him in time out when he does this, he continues the behavior.According to Dreikurs’ model of social discipline, Terence is seeking power and control. By placing him in time out, he is losing the social connection that he is seeking, which might explain why it isn’t working.According to Dreikurs’ model, the teacher should require Terence to rebuild the block towers that he knocks down.

He might also be prevented from playing with the blocks each time he knocks down the tower of another student. Finally, encouragement can be used to reinforce Terence’s positive behaviors when using the blocks. These methods of consequences and encouragement are representative of Dreikurs’ model for social discipline.

3. Revenge-based Behaviors

Next we have revenge-based behaviors. Anna is in the fifth-grade.

She recently received a low score on the weekly spelling test. Since then, she’s been very disrespectful and demeaning to her teacher in class. This is hurtful and disruptive in class.Dreikurs’ model of social discipline explains Anna’s behavior as revenge-based because she is blaming her teacher for the low score on the spelling test.

Anna might be asked to apologize to her teacher as a natural consequence for the behavior. Encouragement should also be used to help motivate Anna to prepare more effectively for the next spelling test.

4. Behaviors Resulting From Feelings of Helplessness or Inadequacy

Finally, there are behaviors resulting from feelings of helplessness or inadequacy. Jordan is in fifth-grade as well. She refuses to speak when called upon in math class.

Therefore, her teacher no longer calls on her.Dreikurs’ model relates Jordan’s lack of participation in class to feelings of inadequacy. For example, Jordan may believe that she is bad at math thus does not want to speak up in class for fear that she will respond incorrectly. Instead of giving Jordan the chance to remain quiet in math class, the teacher should continue to call on her and should encourage her for making an effort. This pattern of consequence and encouragement may help to alleviate Jordan’s feelings of helplessness when it comes to math.

Dreikurs’ model focuses on the need for students to belong. These examples not only present common classroom behavior issues related to this concept, but demonstrate how Dreikurs’ model of social discipline can help to curtail them.

Lesson Summary

Behavior management and discipline are pressing issues for teachers. Dreikurs’ model of social discipline, which is based on the principles of social psychology, acknowledges students’ need to fit in and blames negative behavior on the inability to do so.

This model classifies misbehavior as seeking: attention, power and control, revenge, or as the result of feelings of inadequacy. Dreikurs’ model of social discipline does not utilize punishment for the elimination of problem behavior in the classroom, but focuses on natural or logical consequences and encouragement.

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