The Learning Renaissance

Behaviour Management: Some Thoughts

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.

About educationalist04

I'm convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans. The solution is learning - creating independent and autonomous learners who can problem solve, innovate and create a better more equitable and sustainable world. My books, Future Proof Your School and Re-Examining Success together with this blog, explore how better learning outcomes for all can be achieved.

2 comments on “Behaviour Management: Some Thoughts

  1. AcEd
    February 10, 2020

    A great reminder David about modelling the behaviours we want to see in our pupils.

    A sage colleague of mine once said to me as we listened to another teacher ‘tear a strip of a pupil’, “It’s no good doing that. These kids are shouted at and abused on a daily basis by people who are professionals at it and who are will to go far further than we are. It’s water off a duck’s back and just sets up further resentment.”

    I also think it’s a shame that any “Bahviour” policies in schools nearly always focus on compliance and not learning behaviors.

    A short article that asks “Behaviour. What behavior?”

  2. Barry Whelan
    February 10, 2020

    Totally agree. Getting angry at someone who is angry is a little bit paradoxical.

    I wrote a small piece about what teachers can do instead of shouting, would love to know what you think:

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