One effective behaviour management technique that I use with the children I teach part-time in a Pupil Referral Unit (children with emotional, behavioural and social difficulties) is about correcting misdemeanours while employing good shame management. The children I teach are very ‘delicate’ and often have very low self-worth and are therefore are unable to cope with any kind of negative feedback. This, of course, includes the traditional ‘telling off’.
So how do I correct their behaviour without whipping up the uncomfortable levels of shame that will nearly always result in triggering more extreme behaviour? Simple. I swoop in on the negative behaviour, I correct it firmly but kindly and then I disengage. Absolutely no ‘locking of horns’ involved. I often disengage by walking away and no longer looking at the pupil, giving an air of, ‘I trust you to sort it out without you needing me to check that you have.’ I then return a minute later and gush some praise for having made the ‘right choice’ or for ‘insert the desired behaviour’ (e.g. ‘thank you for sitting sensibly and playing the game fairly.’)
Please note: I will add though that with resilient children who have a secure attachment to their parents/carers, shame does not need to be managed quite so carefully. In a healthy parent/carer and child relationship, shame is the emotion that is used to correct behaviour. When a child experiences mild shame because of their parents’/carers’ response, they know they have done something wrong – albeit that ‘wrong’ will vary from parent to parent. Shame is a learning emotion.