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Montana educators learn about "Conscious Discipline"

A form of discipline that’s based on connection and not fear
Posted at 8:39 AM, Jan 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 11:35:27-05

GREAT FALLS - At the Civic Center in Great Falls on Thursday, educators learned about the art of Conscious Discipline, which teaches adults a form of discipline that’s based on connection and not fear. 

Bev Matsko, Headstart director for one of the event’s co-sponsors, Opportunities, Inc., says that cognitive discipline can help educators learn how to teach their students in a positive manner.

“Conscious discipline is really about connecting. It’s really about understanding your brain states so understanding that some of us at times we can go into survival state and be in a spot where we don’t feel safe. The goal of today’s session is to really provide our staff with the tools necessary to go into the classroom and support children in a very positive way,” Matsko said. 

Matsko said the foundation of conscious discipline is connection. “Understanding your brain states so understanding that some of us, at times, we can go into survival state and be in a spot where we don’t feel safe,” Matsko said. 

Conscious Discipline instructor Annette Chastain agreed, explaining that this form of discipline teaches not just rules, but skills for developing connection and resilience. 

“It’s how do we help create environments where people feel safe and connected and can learn skills to cope and be resilient,” Chastain said. 

While children are typically on the receiving end of disciplinary action, conscious discipline involves everybody. 

“Really it’s for anybody - any kind of program or place where people come together and there’s stress involved,” Chastain said. 

Nine years after putting conscious discipline into practice, she’s learned that to teach children well, the adults must master the lessons themselves.

“It really impacts the adult first and so that's where it's unique, is understanding how much of an impact the adult has on what happens in your classrooms and in your homes and in communities,” Chastain said. 

Those lessons include: “How to notice your own triggers. How to go from feeling upset to calm. How to understand that when we’re triggered we say things and we do things that aren’t as helpful and that those are patterns and how do we help ourselves learn a different pattern,” Chastain said. 

Chastain added that adults also need to work on developing connections of their own. 

Once adults have learned how to identify their triggers, learn new patterns, and connect with others, children can begin to do the same. 

To learn more or access resources about Conscious Discipline, click here to visit the website .