It has often struck me when I’ve seen parents reprimanding their children in public that it is often the parents who seem more out of control than their children.
The recourse to smacking children tends to represent the loss of control of the parent rather than the nature of the behaviour of the child. This is why I oppose the smacking of children, because those who advocate it work on an implicit assumption that the parent is emotionally stable at the time of administering the punishment. That is not my experience.
In schools I’ve seen teachers trying to shout a child into compliance. That can work. But only if the teacher doing the shouting uses it so sparingly that it is shocking to witness it. Otherwise, you are engaging in a particularly pointless game of ‘who blinks first’. Escalating the emotions might work in a pleasant leafy suburb school, but certainly not in an inner city school where anything short of intense physical violence forms part of the child’s normal daily diet. This means he, or she, is prepared to escalate well beyond anything a teacher can match without finding themselves subject to disciplinary procedures.
Being in, or fawning, a temper which threatens physical violence is a behaviour with rapidly diminishing returns. It undermines relationships, and paints the teacher as a bully. Hardly a model of interaction that a school should be promoting. The day of the school enforcer, uses as the back up to the inadequacies of other teachers in effectively managing behaviour is long gone. I remember receiving a particularly warm welcome from the Deputy Head who saw the arrival of a tall rugby player as a remedy to his arthritis, and an apprentice in the administration of the cane. I quickly disabused him of that notion.
I suppose it all goes back to transactional analysis, my old behaviour management friend from the classroom. Model the behaviour you want, invest in personal relationships and fair play and there is a basis of trust where the child can de-escalate their behaviour without loss of faith.