The New Generation

In the 21st century, modern teachers are more successful when they motivate their students and foster self-control. In the past, students were motivated by society’s idea that you should do what you are told because, “I said so.” Baby Boomers and Millennials are now the parents and grandparents of the Y Generation and the newest Silent Generation. These generations live according to a different set of rules than the students of the past.  Modern students require different types of motivation than their parents’ teachers used. The best types of motivation for this generation is geared toward the child’s sense of control.

Modern Motivation highlighted an article that discussed the fact that happier people have parents who are less psychologically controlling, but they also explained that, “Psychological control differs from behavioral control.” Changes in discipline over these generations have an affect on motivation that is hard to get a grasp on in a classroom without fostering self-control. These students grew up on the internet, playing video games that have better graphics than some of the movies their teachers grew up watching, and participation trophies were the norm. Daily, these children spend hours in front of a screen of some kind that is providing them with instant feedback, instant reward, and they have control over every movement and click.

There are new ways to motivate these children to improve their behavior by allowing them a sense of control without them taking control of the classroom. The goal of the techniques I will share are to build the child’s self-awareness and therefore enhance their self-control.

Clip Charts Foster Self-control

Clip charts display a continuum of discipline expectations. The chart usually consists of five levels and the students begin their day on the middle level. According to their behavior throughout the day, the child’s clip is moved up or down. Moving up would make the child eligible for positive recognition or awards. Moving down would mean that the child would have a consequence. For instance, when the child is misbehaving, the teacher would address the child.  She would explain what the expectation for their behavior is and then have the child move their clip to a lower level. Not only is the child addressed for the behavior, they have to physically move that clip down. On the other hand, when the teacher has fostered self-control in the child, they can see that they have the opportunity to move that clip up with positive behavior.

The old-school method of putting a child’s name on the board was more of a way to shame the child into good behavior.  Once the child crossed the line of getting that check next to their name, they knew their day was ruined. Children would beg the teacher to erase their name or the check next to it. At that time the teacher stood her ground and the child had to suffer the consequences. Some children would react so negatively to that correction that the rest of the day was ruined.

Personal Clip Chart

Children who are in less control of their behavior sometimes need more personal attention. These children may react negatively when addressed in front of others. They may be the type of child who refuses to get up from their desk to move a clip on the class chart. They may even cause more problems with other children on their way to the class chart. Personal Clip Charts use the same concept of the continuum of expectations, but are kept at the child’s desk to foster self-control. This personal chart, because of its location, is a more continuous reminder of their level.

The teacher can give the child the individualized attention necessary to address their behavior. When the child’s clip needs to be moved, the teacher can speak to the child one-on-one and give him/her a reminder of the expectations. Again, the child feels a sense of control because of the personal attention they receive and the knowledge that if they do what the teacher suggests during that conversation, they can move that clip in a positive direction.

Teacher’s Role

The teacher’s role in this method is crucial. She must be aware of negative behavior and positive behavior. This method sets a climate in the classroom that lets the children know that their behavior is important to the person in charge and that they will receive positive rewards when they behave positively.  They will also receive consequences for negative behavior. With the Clip Chart method the child has the opportunity to turn things around for themselves. The key in this method is that they are in control of their behavior. The teacher is acknowledging all behaviors and therefore the negatives are not the focus. By having a physical representation of their level and their understanding that they have the opportunity to improve their day, the children are motivated to control themselves. The children learn better self-awareness which leads to self-control.

Schedule Breakdown Chart

Several students cannot use a discipline plan that encompasses an entire day. These students benefit from the use of a chart that breaks their day down into segments. The use of these charts allow for the child to have a consequence and then start over after a given period of time. Younger children or children with more behavior issues need more segments to their day to foster self-control. As children mature or their behavior improves, their chart can be adjusted to fewer segments.

Before the behavior plan is implemented, the child should be part of the process. They should be consulted about rewards and consequences. The child needs to understand the process, they need to be familiar with the chart that is being used to document their behavior, and the child needs to work with the teacher to set their goals. This not only gives them an amount of control, it gives them ownership of the chart and the process as a whole. Children who are included in the process and have ownership of the chart have a better sense of control.

As the day progresses, a child will earn points during each time segment. With misbehavior, the child will lose points.  But the important thing with this chart is that when that time segment is over, they start anew. They can leave that time period behind and move forward with more self-control and better behavior. Although each time period is unto itself, all of the time segments are used to determine if their goal is reached for the day.


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends positive discipline strategies that effectively foster self-control and “teach children to manage their behavior and keep them from harm while promoting healthy development”. These include:

  1. Show and tell.
  2. Set limits.
  3. Give consequences.
  4. Hear them out.
  5. Give them your attention.
  6. Catch them being good.
  7. Know when not to respond.
  8. Be prepared for trouble.
  9. Redirect bad behavior.
  10. Call a time-out.

The classroom discipline plans described above include the opportunities for all 10 of these recommendations.  They can be used in conjunction with the opportunity to foster the self-control that children crave in their daily lives. Each plan can be adjusted to fit any classroom and the needs of each student. When students are motivated to improve their self-control and self-awareness, the classroom is a place for learning and exploration of thoughts and ideas rather than a battle ground.  A student’s progress can be shared with parents using a mobile messaging platform.  For more on that topic click here.