5 Tips for Preventing and Managing Challenging Behavior
5 Tips for Preventing and Managing Challenging Behavior
PUBLISHED: Friday, November 16, 2018 by Andilynn Feddeler

When kids act out, it can be hard to determine how to best deescalate the situation without provoking further challenging behavior. Every kid has different needs, and more often than not, those who are defiant or off-task have a deeper cause to their behavior that can be alleviated with some empathy and trust-building. Here are some strategies for preventing and managing erratic or anxious behavior in the classroom:

  • If a student finishes an assignment early, he or she may begin distracting other students who are still working. To keep the restlessness to a minimum, allow students the opportunity to quietly color, draw, read, or do a word puzzle at their desk when they have completed the task at hand.

  • Make transitions less painful by easing into tough activities. If students get surprised with a pop quiz the second they walk in the door, they might be more disheartened and annoyed than if there is some buildup to the quiz, like a refresher activity or emotional check-in. Transitions can be really hard for anxious and easily overwhelmed kids to handle, so adapting to their needs can go a long way.

  • Some students with behavioral issues don’t like extra attention, so calling them out in front of the class for tapping their foot or whispering to friends can actually make things worse. Pass them a note or check in with them personally during an activity so that they get the message without the embarrassment.

  • Set goals and boundaries with students who consistently act out, and help them recognize and self-regulate their behavior. Talk them through how to identify their anxious thoughts, and rehearse how to calm down when everything gets too overwhelming or scary. This will prevent them from becoming dependent on you to signal when they are causing distractions.

  • Try to maintain a calm, respectful tone when talking to kids with problem behaviors to prevent anger or violent retaliation. Remember that there are other students in the classroom who learn from your actions, and losing your cool might lead to more provocation.