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The Need for Progressive Discipline in Today’s Delicate Educational Ecosystem

Children raised by the Baby Boomer generation grew up with emotionally reserved, hands-off parenting. This "every child for themselves" mentality influenced later Gen X parents to adopt a more involved yet permissive style with their millennial children centered around boosting their self-esteem.

Parenting styles have dramatically shifted over the last three generations.

Children raised by the Baby Boomer generation grew up with emotionally reserved, hands-off parenting. This “every child for themselves” mentality influenced later Gen X parents to adopt a more involved yet permissive style with their millennial children centered around boosting their self-esteem.

This contrasting pendulum swing resulted in the “every child gets a trophy” approach that is now under scrutiny. 

While the modern-day parent’s goal was to ensure no child felt left out, this well-meaning style is now under scrutiny for its impact on building resilience in adults.

The Risk of Overprotection

This protective, reward-focused parenting has recently raised concerns among educators and psychologists. They believe it may block the development of fundamental life skills.

These skills include:

  • Resilience
  • Adaptability
  • Managing failure 

The main problem is environments that shield young people from life’s real challenges. This approach can prevent them from learning to navigate setbacks and difficulties.

But it doesn’t stop there.

When a child performs exceptionally well, and they, along with their lesser-performing peers, receive the same reward, it devalues their success. Their hard work and well-earned praise are lost in a sea of mediocrity.

The intrinsic desire to do well may be curtailed because the outcome is the same for everyone.

Seeking Balance

At STARS Academy, this conversation is pivotal. The school’s educational philosophy and approaches, particularly regarding progressive discipline, are deeply intertwined with these societal shifts in parenting.

The focus is on striking a delicate balance that acknowledges and appreciates effort yet recognizes the importance of learning from failure and adversity. 

As we dive deeper into this topic, it becomes clear that preparing students for real-world challenges requires nurturing resilience and developing skills to navigate life’s inevitable ups and downs.

Understanding Progressive Discipline

On the topic of adversity and resilience, Justin Baeder, Ph.D., Director of the Principal Center and expert in educational leadership underscores the importance of progressive discipline in school settings.

Progressive discipline is a framework that addresses unacceptable students’ behaviors in a way that is not punitive but protective.

Benefits of Progressive Discipline for Students:

  • Institutes measured consequences aligned to the severity of behaviors
  • Shields against reactive, arbitrary, or excessive punishment
  • Allows opportunities to learn from failures and poor choices
  • Fosters personal accountability and responsibility

Benefits of Progressive Discipline for Schools/Organizations:

  • Safeguards continuity of learning
  • Upholds equitable treatment of misconduct
  • Provides a roadmap for responding to recurring issues
  • Mitigates severe behaviors that divert from mission
  • Cultivates a just, consistent, and productive environment

In practice, progressive discipline involves responding appropriately to isolated as well as repeated behavioral incidents based on their severity.

While consequences may not always permanently change behavior, the key advantage is balancing compassion and protection for the individual with structure and continuity for the organization.

Rethinking the Coddling Culture

The principles outlined in The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt resonate with the concept of progressive discipline.

They tackle the three big myths observed in today’s students’ beliefs:

  • What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker
  • Always trust your feelings
  • Life is a battle between good people and evil people

The book critiques the culture of overprotection and emotional coddling, advocating for resilience through facing challenges and open discussion – principles mirrored in STARS Academy’s approach.

Progressive Discipline Takes A Community Effort

Truly embracing the progressive discipline requires engagement and cooperation from all parties— faculty and staff commitment to modeling expectations, parent support in reinforcing expectations at home, and student willingness to take accountability for behavioral choices.

Consistency, communication, and collective responsibility are vital to implementing a progressive discipline model.

Cultivating Well-Rounded, Resilient Individuals Beyond the Classroom

At STARS Academy, we believe progressive discipline is one piece of the puzzle in shaping students’ readiness for life’s complexities.

This modern approach to discipline is multifaceted, ensuring order and safety in schools while fostering resilience among students.

By implementing progressive discipline, educators are not just maintaining an orderly and safe learning environment but also preparing students for the real world.

This balanced approach equips them with the skills to navigate various life challenges effectively. The ultimate goal is to cultivate well-rounded individuals who can handle life’s complexities with resilience and adaptability while preparing them for a future outside the classroom.