Instructors - Discipline
Help and advice from the Child Protection in Sport Unit
Here are some practical ways for your organisation to help safeguard the children and young people who take part in your activities:
When discipline is used it should be with the clear intention of teaching or reinforcing appropriate behaviour. It must not be used impulsively, to gain power, or to embarrass or humiliate a child/young person.
Discipline should be used only to:
- develop a sense of responsibility for behaviour
- develop respect for others and their property
- reinforce the rules or values of the sport
- reinforce positive behaviour or attitudes
- reinforce awareness of health and safety aspects of the activity.
The use of sanctions is an important element in the maintenance of discipline. The age and developmental stage of the child should be taken into consideration when using sanctions. Sanctions should be fair and consistent and in the case of persistent offence, should be progressively applied. They should never be used to retaliate or to make a coach feel better. The following steps are suggested and should always be used in conjunction with the code of conduct for young people:
- rules should be stated clearly and agreed
- a warning should be given if a rule is broken
- a sanction (for example, use of time out) should be applied if a rule is broken for a second time. The use of green, yellow and red cards are encouraged, irrespective of the sport
- if a rule is broken for the third time the child should be spoken to, and if necessary, the parents/guardians may be involved
sanctions should not be applied if a coach is not comfortable with them. If an appropriate action cannot be devised right away, the child should be told that the matter will be dealt with later, at a specified time and as soon as possible
- a child should not be sanctioned for making errors when s/he is playing
- physical activity (e.g. running laps or doing push-ups) should not be used as a sanction. To do so only causes a child to resent physical activity, something that s/he should learn to enjoy throughout his/her life
- sanctions should be used sparingly. Constant sanctioning and criticism can cause a child to turn away from sport
- once sanctions have been imposed, it is important to make the young person feel s/he is a valued member of the group again
where relevant, some sanctions may need to be recorded and parents informed.